Norway, Shetland, Fair Isle, Orkney, Scotland.

3 weeks ago we left Norway, and we are now at anchor in Broad Bay, just around the corner from Stornoway before heading in tomorrow. The past 560 miles have sometimes felt like a dash from one sheltered harbour to another, but we have found some hidden gems on the way.

We’ve carefully watched the weather and first picked a gap to sail downwind all the way from Norway, around the top of Shetland and on to Scalloway. We arrived there 24 hours before the first gale and we spent 3 nights at anchor waiting for it to abate.

Strong wind is so often followed by calm and so we had a long but pleasant motor to Fair Isle. We have sailed past this tiny island for the last 10 years always with the thought of stopping if the weather worked, well this time it did. The harbour is tiny and shallow and whilst it was great in the south wind I really would not like to be there with any north in the wind.

What a beautiful spot, we walked all the way around the island, met some very friendly locals and saw lots of sheep.

We sailed from Fair Isle to Sanday and then from there to Inganess Bay around the corner from Kirkwall. A spectacular bay with a glorious sandy beach and we anchored not far from the wreck of the Juniata.

After another 2 nights sitting out the next gale we motored round into Kirkwall harbour and found a space in their small but pleasant marina.

The tourist office told us that with limited time in the Orkneys, Scara Brae would be the best place to visit so off we went on the bus.

Skara Brae is a stone-built Neolithic settlement, located on the Bay of Skaill on the west coast of Mainland. Consisting of eight clustered houses, it was occupied from roughly 3180 BC to about 2500 BC and is Europe’s most complete Neolithic village After our visit here, next stop was a more modern experience – shopping in Tescos for the rest of the trip!

You have to get the tide right in the Orkneys and we set off for our overnight sail to Scotland at just the right time – 11 knots over the ground had us clear of the islands in no time and on route to Loch Eriboll

Another gale was forecast and we were tucked up nicely in the Loch before it started. Good job too, the most wind we saw was 57 knots! It was no surprise when a 90 metre coaster joined us in the ‘shelter’ of the Loch.

After studying the weather again we left Loch Eriboll early evening for an overnight sail to Broad Bay to get there before the next gale. Yesterday there were 37 knots of wind in the bay and today it is flat calm an foggy – tomorrow we hope the sun comes out for our final leg into Stornoway harbour.

The gales we have been avoiding have all been from the south or the south west as we encountered low pressure after low pressure giving us wind always on the nose. We’ve 2 weeks left now before we are due in Plymouth, surely this time it will blow from the north. Watch this space

Homeward Bound

We’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable time in Norway this summer – our new route from Bergen to Floro and vice versa gave us plenty of opportunity to explore, visit new places and meet the locals as we tied up in ‘tiny’ little harbours

We were a bit disappointed when our group booking for the final trip fell through and those of you who follow us on AIS may be puzzled as to why we are in Scalloway. Richard and I had already decided to sail from Norway to Stornoway two handed for a change and with it being too short notice to fill the trip we set off from Norway early.

We have long wanted to visit Fair Isle and Orkney and so hope to do so this week on our way to Stornoway. We plan to arrive in Stornoway in time to get organised for our trip south on 2nd September.

There are still 2 spaces left to join us and at £995 for 12 nights it is a real bargain (only £83 a night)

Interested in joining us – for more information and to book see the Stornoway to Plymouth page on our schedule

Glaciers, Waterfalls and Wimbledon

We were really lucky with the wind – Fjord sailing has a notorious reputation for either too much wind (severe gusts) or none at all resulting in lots of motoring. We hardly had the motor on. A constant SW wind saw us doing countless gybes all the way into the fjord to Vik one day and then with the same steady wind we managed to tack out over the next 2 days – always in awe of the fabulous sights surrounding us!

From the snow glistening on the glacier to waterfalls thundering down the hillsides there is a new sight around every bend – with some spectacular anchorages

We were tucked up in a tiny anchorage for our penultimate night – and arrived in time to watch the final set of the Mens Singles Final at Wimbledon. What a nailbiter and how tricky watching it streaming on a tablet!!

Well we are now in Bergen – the tall ships are due tomorrow and so we are not allowed to be in the harbour in the centre of Bergen so we are in the next bay along with a grandstand view. We have watched the Norwegian boat that lives here ‘practicing’ today with Fire Canons and water jets getting ready for tomorrows parade of sail

Our guests arrive later today – We’ll watch the parade of sail tomorrow and then head north toward Sognefjord and another adventure.

What a difference a day makes.

Light house keepers cottage

We left our anchorage in Dores Bay and headed down Loch Dochfour. On the first bend was a lighthouse and this fabulous lighthouse keepers cottage. I could quite imagine living there!

This evening we are anchored in Cromarty with a couple of rigs for company!

Yet another great day in the canal – its been a great but intense rope handling course. Finally we have also found out why it is so green here – plenty of rain. Pete braved the elements as we left the Canal and headed out under the bridge into the Moray Firth – plenty of cups of tea to keep us going!

And on to Cromarty – I have heard Cromarty mentioned so often when listening to the shipping forecast – Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger always seem to be grouped together – but although I knew it was a shipping forecast area I had no idea it was place! Tonight we are anchored in the very flat Cromarty Firth – right opposite the town. A busy and interesting approach very much like being in the North Sea.

We always said this would be the trip of many parts. So far we have done Scottish Islands and the Caledonian Canal – tomorrow it is time for watches and the passage to Norway (2 to 3), Weather is looking good.

We’ll be back on line once we reach the other side.

Loch Ness

We were planning on first lock down this morning from Fort Augustus but Lord of the Glen beat us to it. Not much room for both of us. We both needed to negotiate a 5 lock staircase and by the time Lord of the Glen was in the third lock they opened the top lock for us. An hour later we were off into Loch Ness and on our search for Nessie

About half way along the Loch are the ruins of Urquhart Castle, dating back to 1200’s. We had planned to anchor here and go ashore but the wind direction changed our minds, so after a quick spin around the bay we were off to take a look around Dores Bay to see if it would be any better.

Urquhart Castle

Dores Bay turned out to be well sheltered and so we now have the hook down ready for a quiet night on Loch Ness – but we still have our eyes peeled for the monster.

Dores Bay – beautiful and calm this evening

Tomorrow we are off for the last stretch to Inverness and then hope to pop out into the Moray Firth just before the locks close for the day.

Its so Green

They call it the Great Glen but it should be called the Green Glen. Today we have gone from the top of Neptunes Staircase at Banavie to the top of the staircase at Fort Augustus. Up 4 locks, down 4 locks and 3 swing bridges in between. Every where we looked it was green.

The basin at Fort Augustus

It has been a fabulous day today – great weather, fantastic scenery, and to top that all we were treated to a flying display in Loch Lochy by 4 F15 fighter jets and 1 C17 transport aircraft which waggled its wings for us. There is never a camera handy when you want one.

Tomorrow – its down the staircase and into Loch Ness. The search is on!!