#774. Splendour in the Hebrides

By Dallas Thomas | Travel Photography

Oct 02

Our home for 13 days

Like many of us over the years I’ve seen numerous television programs exploring the ancient Hebridean Islands. Our exploration took place upon this old converted mackerel trawler. Having said this Splendour lives up to her name. The food served aboard is some of the best the 8 of us have every had the pleasure of being served, The chef Mike has worked in Michelin * establishments in the past and it showed, as does our waist lines!! The bridge was always open and Iain our skipper/owner was welcoming and a fount of knowledge on the areas being visited and the abundant wildlife that we were seeing.

Oban was our starting point, Anne left with a bottle of the local product in our bag after her obligatory tour of the local Scotch distillery before our departure.

The night before departure



Muck was the first destination, the scenery was magical, the bird life abundant, as you can imagine capturing flying birds on a moving vessel is not the easiest task but I did manage to get a Garnet diving.




One of the many lighthouses on the way to the Isle of Muck bathed in soft afternoon light.

The mid afternoon light is so special and soft, something we rarely get in Australia except around golden hour, the stroll over rough tracks makes you appreciate how harsh life would have been in this region before motor vehicles.

Scene from our stroll around isle of Muck


Scene from our stroll around isle of Muck


Our itinerary was subject of course to weather and the sea conditions, we were all looking forward to seeing the far isle of St Kilda. We later found out St Kilda only has about 7,000 visitors per year. The journey was interesting the skipper Iain told us later the seas were around Force 8, I’m not exactly sure what that means other than we rocked and rolled for about 7 hours. Our breakfast and lunch was served in a cup, porridge in a cup was certainly not the standard fare on Splendour. No photos as it was impossible.

The rugged outcrops of St Kilda

The plan once ashore was to walk up to a ridge where you could get a better view, but the weather was unkind and soon the peaks were shrouded in mist, we had to be contented to explore the old ruins and original houses.

Numerous sighting of whales, sharks and dolphins were made almost on a daily basis, we were also blessed to see Golden Eagles, no shots unfortunately. We dearly wanted to see Puffins on land but were too late in the season. However the boat was surrounded by puffins dancing through the swells as we approached St Kilda.

Basking Shark


Fin Whales


Skye Bridge

Skye Bridge

Capturing colourful sunsets hand-held on a boat even at anchor is a challenge, normally I use a tripod and either 3 or 4 stop ND grad filter. But I had to be content with handheld during this trip.

Sunset at Portree

Shore leave was also good, this happened most days, walking around these quaint villages was a great way to stretch the legs, talking of legs mine kept making we sway while on land. The bright vibrant colours of Portree.



Colour in Portree


Rassay and Splendour








Sunset Loch Nevis

Loch Nevis was a place that both Anne and I fell in love with, the rugged landscape and the majestic isle with late night/early morning light and stillness was something to behold. Walking on shore it was plain to see that the locals have always led a hard life.

Early morning reflections Loch Nevis this shoot is hand held


Early morning reflections Loch Nevis hand held shot


Loch Nevis take note of the fence lines, not a job I’d start or want to finish


Early morning reflections Eigg







This two-week cruise has inspired Anne and I to return to Scotland and the Isles for another boat trip and a road trip in the future. From a photography point of view a road trip will make it easier I hope to capture images of this extremely picturesque part of the world and home of some of my forefathers.

For the gear people shots were taken with a combination of Nikon D4s, D850 and Zeiss Milvus 21, 35, 50, 135 and Nikon 80 – 400.


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  • philberphoto says:

    Gorgeous, Dallas! I am green with envy! Only the relatively small size of the Splendour offers me some small measure of Schadenfreude at your expense…:-) Whew, what a trip!! There are too many delightful pictures for me to designate favorites, but, if I had to pick just 2, they’d be Skye bridge and Canna. Great stuff!

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Fabulous photography, Dallas! Your comments on Force 8 seas, and 7 hours of rock’n’roll, reminded me of my great-great-great-grandfather’s voyage from England to Australia – they were in the “first fleet”, to settle the new colony of South Australia – the six ships left South Africa together, but his veered too far south and got caught up in the “roaring forties” – so it sped across the Indian Ocean and arrived off the South Australian coast 2 months ahead of the rest of the fleet. And for the entire crossing, the ship pitched 9″yawed”? – whatever!) from one side to the other. The entire crew (including the captain), except for the first mate – and all the passengers, except for my g-g-g-grandfather’s 19 year old son – spent practically the whole time either throwing up or staying down in the lower decks. The 19 year old had a whale of a time – spent most days up in the crow’s nest – a bit like being on one of those insane roller coasters, before they were invented – and loved every minute of it.
    Sorry about the puffins – they are utterly adorable, I’ve loved them ever since I was a kid and Britain’s “Penguin Books” introduced me to them, by bringing out a new series called “Puffins”.

    • Thanks Pete, the rocking and rolling was far worse than crossing the Drake Passage last December. Luckily none of us were sick, but a few were a little green.

  • NMc says:

    Dallas that looks like an amazing cruise, small boats obviously get you places that comfortable cruises never can.
    One thing that stands out was that there are no visible livestock in any of the mid or background scenery, something you drew attention to with the fencing comment.
    One question what month where you there?

  • Scott Edwards says:

    Stunning! Stunning! Stunning!

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    “talking of legs mine kept making we sway while on land. The bright vibrant colours of Portree.”

    This really made me smile = Portree in Motion?

  • Per Kylberg says:

    I really like your photos Dallas: They are not “screaming”, instead beautiful compositions. Images to rest in.

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