Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn more

Tour Highlights

  • Discover Scotland's picturesque Inner Hebrides from a unique perspective

  • Enjoy a combination of coastal swims, circumnavigations and crossings, including a crossing of the famous Gulf of Corryvreckan

  • Take in the sights and sounds of the Scottish coast, both above and below the water

  • Stay on-board the beautiful Lady of Avenel tall ship, with your very own on-board Chef!

Join us on an unforgettable expedition through some of the most stunning scenery in the British Isles in Scotland’s breathtaking Inner Hebrides. Staying on the 102-foot tall ship, the ‘Lady of Avenel’, this swimming adventure offers a unique opportunity to explore the dramatic landscapes of this picturesque corner of the world.

From craggy mountain tops to spectacular volcanic features, this tour takes in the most beautiful parts of this remarkable collection of islands. Our expedition explores the lochs, sounds, islands, coves and skerries of the Inner Hebrides, while also providing an opportunity to experience an abundance of local wildlife throughout the week.

Our home for the week, the ‘Lady of Avenel’, includes our very own on-board chef, while taking in the sunset from the deck offers the perfect end to each day’s swimming.

Who is this for?

This trip is made up largely of coastal and loch swimming, along with some crossings, including the fabled crossing of the Gulf of Corryvreckan. A good experience of swimming in challenging sea conditions is a must for this trip.

What's included?

  • Fully guided swimming holiday in the Inner Hebrides
  • Swim guides and full safety escort on all swims
  • Six nights accommodation
  • On-board Chef
  • All breakfasts
  • All lunches
  • All evening meals

What's not included?

  • Travel to and from the start of the tour
  • Wetsuit hire

Related Links

Day 1

The ‘Lady of Avenel’, our ship and accommodation, awaits you at the North Pier in Oban. We enjoy on-board welcome drinks and are given a tour of our classic rigger. Following a safety briefing and a discussion of the plans for the week, we set sail to Loch Aline in the Sound of Mull.

The panoramic Loch Aline is the venue for our acclimatisation swim. This sheltered loch offers ideal conditions for our first swim. Back on board the ship, we enjoy a welcome dinner prepared by our very own on-board chef.

Day 2

Take in the sights and sounds of the Scottish coast this morning as we sail to Loch Sunart. Our first swim of the day is a coastal swim in the loch. Woodlands of birch and oak line our route as we shake out our swim muscles and make our way to Salen, a sheltered inlet.

After our swim, we continue to explore the loch; this time from above the water line as we follow the narrow coastal road which hugs the lapping waters of the loch as the road skewers its way out into the peninsula. Keep your eyes open for deer, which are often spotted in this area.

It’s back to the ship for lunch, before our afternoon swim across Loch Sunart. From the island of Oronsay we strike out for Glenborrodale Castle on the northern coast. We take in some of the deepest parts of the loch as we cross waters which are often visited by schools of dolphins.

Day 3

We have a longer swim of island hopping this morning. The Sound of Ulva is dotted with islets, skerries, rocks and beaches. We start with a crossing from Little Colonsay island before weaving our way between the islets of the Sound. Our zig-zag swim route explores the channels, coves and inlets of Ulva.

After lunch, we trek to Loch Ba for a short fresh water swim. This beautiful loch is nestled in a valley of oak woods and moorland slopes under the imposing Ben More mountain, the extinct volcano responsible for much of the topography of the area. Our walk is a great time to sight for the Golden Eagle, one of Scotland’s most admired birds. The eagles live in the high country and are sometimes spotted hunting hares on the mountain side.

We will spend the night in Ulva, where, following our group dinner, we will have the opportunity to visit the local pub ‘The Boathouse’.

Day 4

This morning we circumnavigate Staffa island. This pillar island with its great basalt columns, formed by The Mull volcanic eruption 60 million years ago, is a truly breathtaking swim location. The swim concludes in the awe-inspiring Fingal’s Cave. Within the cave, the intricately curved and distorted columns reflect the morning light.

From here, we raise the sails and make our way to Loch Scridain for our afternoon swim. From the Ross of Mull we cross the mouth of the loch to another stunning ancient volcanic feature, MacCulloch’s Fossil Tree. Take in your surroundings at the end of the swim and you will notice the vertical impression of the ancient tree trunk that managed to stay upright after it was engulfed by lava.

We have an evening walk after dinner. From the old observatory you can admire the Lady of Avenel, tucked in the sheltered anchorage of Tinker’s Hole. Vistas of the island of Iona, the Paps of Jura and the setting sun illuminating the pink granite make it well worth the hike.

Day 5

Our morning swim today takes us to the pilgrimage island of Iona. Setting out from Kintra on the Isle of Mull, we cross the sheltered channel heading towards St. Columba’s monastery and its Celtic High Crosses, which make an iconic sighting point.

Our lunchtime walk is like stepping back in time as we explore the home of the Columban monks and the birthplace of the Book of Kells. We wander past Iona Abbey, St. Oran’s Chapel and ruins of the Iona nunnery before walking to the west of Iona for our afternoon swim.

We leave the sandy beach of Camus Cuil an t-Saimh and head south past Iona’s Spouting Cave, a blowhole which sprays salt water across the coast in wintry westerly storms.

Day 6

Today is an action-packed day as we start with an early crossing of the famous Gulf of Corryvreckan, finishing under the imposing 400ft cliffs on Scarba. Before lunch we fit in a second crossing as we depart from Scarba and head towards Luing. Lunch today is well earned!

In the afternoon, we grab our shoes to hike across the island to the fishing village of Toberonochy. Here we hop back in the water and continue our journey with a short crossing of Shuna Sound, finishing up at Shuna island. We journey by boat north to Ardentallan Bay where we spend our last evening.

Day 7

After breakfast, we enjoy our final full swim of the week, a crossing from Lerags to Knipoch. Perhaps a local basking shark will join you on this last swim as this is a busy time for basking shark encounters in the Hebrides.

Sitting on deck for our to sail back to Oban is an excellent finale to our tour of the Scottish Inner Hebrides. The Lady of Avenel moors at the North Pier in Oban where our trip concludes.

Trip Schedule

Start Point: The Lady of Avenel, North Pier, Oban

Start Time: 13:00 on Day 1

Finish Point: The Lady of Avenel, North Pier, Oban

Finish Time: 10:00 on Day 7

Trip Information

Equipment Checklist

In addition to your daily non-swimming clothes, we also recommend that you bring the following items:

Item Item
Swimming Costume (x 3) Towel
Wetsuit Swimming Goggles (x 2)*
Sweater / Fleece / Thick Socks Sun Hat and Sunglasses
Waterproof Jacket Waterproof Sun Cream
Walking Shoes Woolly Hat and Gloves
Long Trousers Small Daypack
Aqua Shoes Thermal layers

*Try to bring one clear lens and one tinted lens for different light conditions.

Please note that SwimTrek will supply swim hats. We will have a limited supply/range of flippers, rashvests and wetsuits available on the trip, but we cannot guarantee sizes for all. If you have your own flippers, rashvest and wetsuit we would recommend you bring these with you in order to maximise your enjoyment of the trip. Please note that SwimTrek will provide water and electrolyte drinks in shared water bottles on your safety boat. If you prefer to use your own drink bottle, please feel free to bring one along.

Swimming Distances

During the tour we plan to undertake the following swims:

Swim Distance
Resipole – Salen 3km
Oronsay – Glenborrodale 2km
Sound of Ulva (Island Hopping) 3km
Staffa Island (Circumnavigation) 2½km
Ross of Mull – Fossil Tree 2km
Kintra - Iona 3km
West Iona (Coastal) 2km
Gulf of Corryvreckan (Crossing) 1½km
Scarba – Luing 2½km
Luing - Shuna 1km
Lerags – Knipoch 1½km

Swimming Conditions

Swimming in the sea is a fantastic experience, however you should be aware that certain marine life such as jellyfish may be present during the swims. In all cases we will work on reducing your contact with these creatures, however if you suffer from anaphylaxis, please consult the office prior to booking.

Walking Distances

Most walks take place on recognised paths and tracks, however there may be cases where we walk along trails or other unsealed surfaces and care should be taken in these areas.

Walk Distance
Salen - Laga 6km
Loch Ba 5km
Tinker’s Hole 1km
Across Iona Island 3km
Across Luing Island 2km

Temperatures

Month Water Temperature* Air Temperature*
August 12 - 14°C / 53 - 57°F 15 - 17°C / 59 - 62°F

*Please note that these temperatures are indicative and should be used as a guide only.

Weather Caveat

For safety reasons, we rely on decent weather conditions when carrying out our swims. As a consequence, open water swimming holidays require a certain degree of on-trip flexibility which can result in changes to the planned itinerary. These changes often add a touch of uniqueness to your trip and will be communicated to you by your SwimTrek guides as quickly as possible.

Group Size

This trip has a maximum group size of 12. The group will be split into two groups, based on speed, with each group being accompanied by their own safety vessel/escort. 

Boat support on this trip includes one main boat and two inflatable boats to be piloted by your SwimTrek guides and a local boat pilot. Please note that this boat support is subject to change without notice and cannot be guaranteed.

Getting There

The easiest way to get to Oban is by plane to Glasgow International Airport and then catching a train directly to Oban. The Lady of Avenel’s mooring place is in the centre of Oban so very is easy to find. The North Pier is just 400m along the beach from the train station.

While we have outlined various travel options below, they are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. We suggest that you use www.skyscanner.net to search for alternative flight options for this trip. Whichever route you choose to take, we recommend confirming your flights and other travel arrangements as early as possible in order to avoid price rises and availability issues.

Travel Via Glasgow

There are a number of scheduled services from various UK and European cities.

Airline Departure Airport
Easyjet Belfast, Berlin, Bristol, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted
Flybe berlin, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Munich, Southampton
Aer Lingus Cork, Dublin

Public Transport From Glasgow To Oban

If you're coming from the East coast, Edinburgh or the UK you will need to first travel through Glasgow. Once in here the best form of travel is via train, the easiest website to organise all of this is through The Train Line - booked in advance tickets can be very cheap. Regular trains travel to Oban that take just over 3 hours and costs approximately £40 for a return ticket. Information on train fares and timetables can be found at ScotRail.

Oban is also serviced by regular buses via City Link. The bus stops right outside Oban train station, when you exit the train station, follow the water’s edge with the sea on your left for 400m and you will see the ‘Lady of Avenel’ waiting in all her beauty at the quay.

Driving to Oban

Another option to get to Oban is by car, you can reach the city center from the A82 which skirts the west side of Loch Lomond. From here, you need to join the A85 at Tyndrum which takes you right to the centre of Oban. When the A85 reaches the coast, you will see the ‘Lady of Avenel’ moored on your right as you look to sea. Parking is available at Oban train station, but there is a daily fee of £3.

Practical Information

Accommodation

Our accommodation for the week is on board the ‘Lady of Avenel’ tall ship; a 102-foot Brigantine square rigger with 12 guest berths and staff quarters. Built originally in Poland in 1969 as a tug vessel, she was refitted in 1992. The Lady of Avenel appeared in ‘Through the Looking Glass’, the sequel to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

Meals

All meals are included on this trip, cooked by the Avenel’s very own on-board chef. With years of experience working on various vessels, our chef will prepare a high standard of food, giving you the required fuel for your challenging swims throughout the week.

Extra Expenses

You should bring extra money with you to cover such items as trips to the occasional island pub and shopping on the few islands that have towns. The local currency is British pound (£).

Passports And Visas

The Inner Hebrides is part of the United Kingdom. Non-residents of the U.K. require a full passport to enter the country, which should be valid for six months beyond the expected length of stay. Citizens of most countries, including all E.U. member states, U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand are given ‘leave to enter’ the UK. Citizens of the EU do not need a visa to enter. Please note that visa regulations are subject to change and we advise that you check your own visa requirements prior to travel.

Vaccinations

There are currently no essential vaccination requirements for U.K., however it is advisable to re-check this information eight weeks before you travel. You should also ensure that your immunity to tetanus and polio is up-to-date.

Enter guest details to see which departures can accommodate your party:

Dates Availability Price From
05 Aug -
11 Aug, 2017
Trip Full
On Request

Accommodation

Cw lady underway 02 small
Lady Of Avenel

A 102ft Brigantine square rigger. With 12 guest berths and epic cruising grounds to offer, the Lady of Avenel provides an exciting platform for adventure swimming and sailing.