A Cruise & Walk holiday combines the freedom of a walking holiday with the pleasures of a cruise, and of course there are some views of our coast that can only be appreciated from deck level. Tour leader Amanda Williams explains why roaming around Britain and Ireland by cruise ship and on foot offers the best of both worlds.
One of the best ways to explore the amazing diversity of our British coastline is on a Cruise & Walk holiday. You step aboard the very comfortable Fred. Olsen ship at your departure port and you'll be able to easily reach some remote places in the British Isles. During the summer there will be long hours of daylight and much can be enjoyed on board ship, even if you don’t go ashore. All Ramblers Cruise & Walk clients are part of our group, however they choose to enjoy their time.
In order to experience the best of both worlds you should go ashore, if you can. In many ports we have the use of a coach which can take clients direct to the end of the walk. There is much to see and do, even if you don't do the walk.
From Belfast, Northern Ireland, we head by coach to the north Antrim coast and begin walking from Dunseverick Castle along the stunning coastline towards the Giant’s Causeway, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
We can descend over 160 steps down the Shepherds Path to this fascinating feature or continue to the National Trust visitors’ centre. This is free to members with a valid membership card and there is a reduced entrance price for those who “go green" and have walked there. The Causeway below can also be reached by a shuttle bus from the visitors’ centre and there are audio guides. The Giant's Causeway – science or myth? There are different stories about how the 40,000 hexagonal basalt pillars came into being. The locals will tell you that the Irish giant, Finn McCool, is responsible for this coastal oddity. According to science, it is the result of an ancient volcanic eruption.
Cruising on to Lewis, the largest and most northern island in the Outer Hebrides, we dock at the capital Stornoway. A coach takes us inland to begin our walk with a local guide to Bosta, where there is a wonderful sandy beach and an Iron Age village.
One of the houses has been superbly rebuilt and entry is available during the summer. Look out for sea eagles on the way and enjoy the wonderful wild flowers.
Kirkwall, in the Orkney Islands is another stop where there is an interesting linear walk from the Kitchener War Memorial.
This tower on Marwick Head was built to honour the memory of Lord Kitchener who perished in June 1916 when the ship HMS Hampshire sank nearby. At the outbreak of the First World War, his face and pointing finger appeared on a poster saying 'Your Country Needs You', and this incited thousands of eager young men to join up and fight the Germans. We continue on our walk past disused fishermen's cottages to reach Skara Brae, a Neolithic settlement which lies near a dramatic white beach.
Skara Brae is the best preserved group of prehistoric houses in Western Europe. It was uncovered by a storm in 1850, and the attraction presents a remarkable picture of life around 5,000 years ago. If there is time, we make a visit to the Ring of Brodgar, the third largest stone circle in the British Isles. Twenty-seven of the original 60 stones remain standing.
Then, as always, we return to our cruise boat for perhaps a sail-away party, cocktails with the captain, a lovely dinner, and other activities such as the evening shows with colourful costumes, singing and dancing. On one cruise, our clients participated in over 20 different interests! We enjoy a farewell tea party and the midnight buffet at the end of the cruise and then say goodbye until next time.
If you are happy at sea, this is a holiday to be recommended.