Peter Harrison: 'Round Britain and Iceland with the Shetland and Faroe Islands
At first, the British Isles may seem a tame destination for travelers who have journeyed to Antarctica and Spitsbergen. The perception of Britain is often one of cultivated landscapes. After all, William Blake wrote of a “green and pleasant land.” Given this image, passengers might think that the ’Round Britain expedition is more tour than expedition.
Quite the contrary! Much of Britain remains wild, and this itinerary is among the most adventurous offered, with numerous landings and no days solely at sea. The ship will negotiate the coastline, traversing narrow channels and skirting wave-sculpted cliffs and islands, homes to Europe’s largest seabird colonies. As a boy growing up on England’s coast, I would see 10,000 or more seabirds pass in a day as they migrated between the continent and those islands. As an adult, I revel in sharing these remote citadels with passengers. On Little Skellig, passengers shall encounter the second-largest colony of gannets in the world. Razorbills, murres, and oystercatchers crowd the shores of the Calf of Man, and Eilean Mor in the Outer Hebrides is home to a large population of Leach’s storm-petrels.
’Round Britain is more than a parade of seabirds. Travelers shall meet the inhabitants of small fishing villages and the craftspeople of Waterford; explore castles, cathedrals, and abbeys; and marvel at geological formations, such as the Giant’s Causeway, and prehistoric monuments including Stonehenge and the Standing Stones of the Orkneys. And not to contradict Mr. Blake, but green is only one hue in a botanical tapestry; the countryside will be a riot of wildflowers.
At the conclusion of ’Round Britain, passengers may stay aboard as they journey from Scottish Isles to Iceland. Departing Lerwick, capital of the Shetland Islands, they travel north and west, passing the soaring bird cliffs of the Isle of Noss. The itinerary features two days in the Faroes, a rugged archipelago settled centuries ago by Vikings. By Zodiac and local boat, they will explore the sea stacks, cliffs, and grottoes for views of the shags, Arctic terns, and other seabirds that nest here.
Iceland, a land of intense geological activity, is the ultimate destination; steamy geysers erupt from fissures, and volcanoes smolder under icecaps. Travelers will venture onto the Vatnajökull Glacier, cruise the Horstrandir Peninsula for views of waterfalls and soaring basalt columns, and hike among labyrinthine lava formations. Seabirds crowd spectacular cliffs, and the waters provide a rich habitat for whales and seals.
As a Briton, I look forward to sharing the varied splendor of my native land, as well as those of Iceland, with travelers who love the wild and historic places of our world.
For more information about these exciting voyages, contact the experts at ExpeditionTrips.
Article provided by Zegrahm Expeditions
Photos: Zegrahm Expeditions