I am a natural history radio and television presenter with a passion for the marine environment. I learnt to scuba dive in the shadow of Skomer Island and always feel at home when I’m in or on the water. I’ve been lucky enough to incorporate this into my presenting work through television projects such as diving shipwrecks on “Wreck Detectives” for Channel 4 and exploring magnificent coastal wildlife on the BAFTA award winning series “COAST” for BBC2.

I love travel and adventure and nowhere better than on our very own coastline, without the need to fly abroad. Here in the UK, we have some of the best coastal and marine wildlife anywhere in the world with over 20 species of cetacean and places where you can snorkel and dive with grey seals and blue sharks. For those who prefer to keep their feet dry, the seabird colonies around our shores are stunning with offshore islands offering exciting opportunities to get close to some of the world’s largest colonies of puffins, Manx shearwaters and gannets.

I have always wanted to embark on a trip that encompasses all of my favourites parts of the UK coastline and this cruise does just that. Visits to my favourites islands of Lundy, Skomer and the Scillies are all included along with Islay of the Hebrides. The wildlife we’ll see en route will be just stunning - I can’t wait!

Miranda Krestovnikoff

Learn the legends and lore of UK's coastline with Special Guest

We are offering an incredible opportunity for expeditioners to explore England’s most historically significant and wildlife-rich locations with special guest Miranda Krestovnikoff.

On this unique 14-day voyage, Miranda will provide lectures on some of her special interest topics; as an accomplished scuba diver she will join the voyage’s diving program, and as President of the Royal Society of the Protection of Birds, she will provide observations and further insights about the extraordinary bird life passengers will see on this voyage, including within RSPB sanctuaries.  

Journey on the Greg Mortimer, which features the revolutionary Ulstein X-BOW®, which allows the ship to cross oceans more comfortably and efficiently, and with expansive observation decks to bring you closer to the environment, offering the perfect base camp for adventurers.

From Cornwall to the Pembrokeshire Islands in Wales, and the lesser-known Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel, explore closer to home whilst you soak up knowledge from an inspirational destination expert.

Balcony Stateroom Category C from £8,156pp twin share*!

Miranda Krestovnikoff
© Adam Fradgley

Miranda Krestovnikoff

Wildlife TV presenter, Zoologist, Author, Conservationist and Public Speaker.

Miranda’s interest and passion for conservation began whilst studying Zoology at Bristol University.

After securing work at the BBC Natural History Unit as a Runner and then a Researcher, Miranda went on to a career in presenting, starting with a wildlife conservation series for Fox Television in 1998. Since then, she has presented television and radio stories around the world on subjects as diverse as wreck diving, fine food and wine, classical music, local history, and marine conservation, but her real passion is exploring the wildlife on her doorstep, in the UK. 

Miranda was one of the original five presenters on the BAFTA award winning BBC2 series “COAST” and is a resident wildlife expert on BBC1’s “The One Show”.  She is the current president of the RSPB.

 

Jewels of Coastal UK

Departing 4 May 23 | 14 Days

Discover some of the United Kingdom’s most historically significant and wildlife-rich destinations on this voyage from Portsmouth to Aberdeen. With numerous islands located in the Atlantic Ocean, a vast amount of the UK coastline is ideal for exploration by ship. In England, Wales and Scotland, there are designated Heritage Coasts, some which fall within national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and some standalone coastal strips that are protected simply because they are part of a particular location’s heritage. Stroll through charming fishing villages, visit majestic castles, cathedrals, historical homes and gardens, encounter magnificent archaeological sites, witness a dazzling array of birds, and soak up the remarkable history of a land that has been continuously inhabited for over 5,000 years. 

Highlights

  • Discover Portsmouth Historic Dockyardhome to two of the most iconic ships in British maritime history 
  • Be charmed by Cornwall’s dazzling coastline, castles, legends and iconic harbours 
  • Experience some of the UK’s most remarkable birdlife at Pembrokeshire Islands 
  • Visit Britain’s highest sea cliffs at UNESCO World Heritage-listed St Kilda 
Miranda Krestovnikoff
© Adam Fradgley

Go diving with Miranda!

Here in the UK, we have some of the best coastal and marine wildlife anywhere in the world, with over 20 species of cetacean and places where you can snorkel and dive with grey seals and blue sharks.” Miranda Krestovnikoff

Uncover an underwater world that few have seen.  Buddy up and be part of a small group of up to 6 divers to get ready for some unforgettable moments.

Itinerary

Having made your way to London, you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to our group hotel. Upon arrival, kindly remind hotel check-in staff to provide you with Aurora Expeditions cabin tags for your luggage. Please clearly label the tags with your name and ship cabin number. 

This evening, enjoy a light refreshment as you meet your fellow expeditioners at a Welcome Reception and Pre-Embarkation Briefing. Afterwards, dine at your leisure (dinner not included). 

Accommodation: Sheraton Grand London Park Lane (or similar)

This morning, your luggage will be collected from the hotel and transferred directly to the port for sanitisation, clearance and delivered to your cabin ahead of your arrival on board. Please ensure that your luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labelled with your name and cabin number. Any valuables or personal items should be kept with you throughout the day. 

Final, mandatory pre-embarkation health screening and COVID (rapid antigen) testing will be completed before transferring to the Portsmouth for embarkation. 

Depart London as you travel to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. This ancient dockyard is home to two of the most iconic ships in British maritime history: Mary Rose and HMS Victory. The Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s flagship, which capsized while fighting the French in 1545, was recovered from the seabed in 1982. In dry dock alongside the Mary Rose, is HMS Victory. Constructed in the 18th century and famed for her part in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, Victory was the flagship of Admiral Lord Nelson, who was infamously fatally shot by a sniper while on deck. 

On arrival at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, your guide will escort you to your lunch venue inside the grounds for a two-course meal. Enjoy some free time after lunch to explore at your leisure. 

Rejoin your guide as you depart on a panoramic tour of the city. Portsmouth is rightly famed for its naval heritage and harbour but there is so much more to discover. We head out to Portsdown Hill, from where you will have (weather permitting) one of the best views in England, overlooking the whole of Portsmouth. On a clear day, you will be able to see as far as Southampton, Chichester and the Isle of Wight. 

Learn about the events and people that have shaped Portsmouth across the centuries, including Charles Dickens, who was born in Portsmouth, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who started writing his Sherlock Holmes stories while practising as a doctor in Southsea. Driving through the 19th-century seaside resort of Southsea with its naval memorials, we glimpse Southsea Castle, built by Henry VIII in the 16th century. 

The panoramic tour continues to Old Portsmouth, including Spice Island, where Portsmouth first started. Here you will discover some of the city’s historical buildings and defences as well as the headquarters of Britain’s America’s Cup team, before arriving at Portsmouth Port and your awaiting ship. 

Settle into your cabin before attending important safety briefings and enjoy the thrill of departure as we ‘throw the lines’ and set sail. 

This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners and our friendly Expedition Team and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure. 

Located on the south coast of Cornwall, Fowey has a strong Celtic connection and is steeped in maritime history. The buildings of Fowey tell the tales of its past. The ancient castles at the deep-water entrance once guarded the harbour from Spanish fleets and, in the heart of the town, the towers of the 14th-century St Fimbarrus Church and the 15th-century Place House still stand proud. Our ship will take centre stage on its mooring right in the heart of Fowey. While you immerse yourself in the Cornish lifestyle, the ship will be the talk of the town. 

Choose two of the following shore excursion options below to create your experience for the day. 

 

Coastal Hike 

Depart Fowey Harbour by coach for the scenic drive to the fishing village of Gorran Haven. Set off on foot through the narrow medieval streets towards the beach, before continuing uphill to the cliffs from where the hike along the southwest coast path begins. The route takes you through wild meadows and along clifftop paths, offering magnificent panoramas. 

The coastal path descends towards Turbot Point, where the sheer cliffs are known as Bodrugan’s Leap, after Sir Henry Bodrugan, who made his escape from his pursuing enemy, Sir Richard Edgcumbe of Cotehele, by leaping from the cliff into a boat that took him to safety in France. Taking in Chapel Point en route, continue to Port Mellon, a delightful cove with a long history of boat building. 

As the route nears closer to the end of the walk, glimpse a first view of Mevagissey and the lovely sweep of Mevagissey Bay. As the lane descends, see splendid views of the picturesque harbour, before arriving for free time to enjoy Mevagissey at leisure. Perhaps explore the village, relax and soak up the scenery, or visit one its many charming cafes for a Cornish cream tea (not included). 

 

Lost Gardens of Heligan 

Depart Fowey this morning for the one-hour journey to the magical Lost Gardens of Heligan. Your route crosses a peaceful countryside of small villages and granite farmhouses, giving you glimpses of life here in days gone by and the hedged fields that give way to rolling downs as you approach Heligan, which is the Cornish name for the willow tree. 

The Lost Gardens, situated near the fishing village of Mevagissey, are set on 80 hectares (200 acres) and include a complex of walled gardens, greenhouses and a huge vegetable garden. The gardens are claimed as the site of the largest garden restoration in Europe. 

As if from a fairytale, the 57-acre gardens were lost for 70 years beneath a mass of ivy, brambles and fallen timber. In 1991, they were ‘rediscovered’ and have been beautifully restored to incorporate rockeries, summerhouses and a crystal grotto. Explore the gardens on your own and marvel at this once-forgotten world. Stroll, or stop and perch on a bench, of which there are many dotted throughout the gardens, to enjoy the tranquil environment offered by the plants and birdlife. 

As well as being named ‘Large Attraction of the Year 2018/19’ at the Cornwall Tourism Awards, the Lost Gardens of Heligan also won the prestigious British Travel Award for Best UK Leisure Attraction in both 2016 and 2017. 

 

Fowey by Foot 

Join your guide for a walking tour of Fowey, a picturesque port town dominated by its links to fishing, shipbuilding, trading and privateering. Stroll along the narrow streets, dating back as far as the 15th century, to Fowey Town Quay, from where you can enjoy fantastic views of Polruan on the opposite shore. See the ‘Rook with a Book’ sculpture created to celebrate the famous writer Daphne du Maurier, who lived in Fowey – the local area being the inspiration and setting for her well-known novels RebeccaMy Cousin Rachel and her short story, The Birds, famously adapted for film by Alfred Hitchcock. 

Continue to Readymoney Cove onto the southwest coast path, walking through woodland to the ruins of St Catherine’s Castle. Hear tales of pirates, and privateers – individuals commissioned by governments to carry out quasi-military activities. They would sail in privately owned armed ships, robbing merchant vessels and pillaging settlements belonging to a rival country. 

On returning to Fowey town, enjoy some free time to explore independently before rejoining your guide and returning to Albert Quay.  

 

Pit to Port: Wheal Martyn & Charlestown 

Explore Cornwall’s unique mining history, see vintage trucks and working waterwheels, discover modern machines in action in the working clay pit and visit the pristine working Georgian port of Charlestown. 

Wheal Martyn tells the story of Cornwall’s largest mining industry – china clay. Found in very few places around the world, the deposits of china clay in Cornwall and Devon are the largest globally. The mining of china clay in Cornwall continues today and was the largest driver of the local economy for 100 years. Cornish china clay has been exported worldwide and is used in a wide array of everyday products, ranging from ceramics to paper and paint, to the more unusual such as spacecraft components. 

Based around two former Victorian-era china clay works, much of which have been designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Wheal Martyn takes you through the story of china clay production from 1800 to the present day. 

Set off on the historic trail for a tour of the preserved Victorian China Clay works that reveals Wheal Martyn’s past life at the heart of this global industry. Follow in the footsteps of the clay workers and learn about the lives of the men, women and children who lived, worked and played in the shadows of the Cornish ‘white pyramids’ in Cornwall’s dramatic clay country. Explore ancient buildings such as the crib hut and flat rod tunnel, see industry tools, vintage commercial vehicles, and walk around the fascinating settling pools. This unique site includes Cornwall’s largest remaining working waterwheel. 

You can enjoy some free time following the trail to the top of the site for an impressive view of a modern, working clay pit. From the observation deck, watch giant machinery in action and see how the historical china clay mining methods have evolved over the years. There’s also a gift shop and cafe. 

Continue the discovery of Cornwall’s rich industrial past with a visit to nearby Charlestown. Originally called Polmear, and consisting of just a few tiny cottages, it was developed in the late 18th century by entrepreneur Charles Rashleigh, who built a harbour and increased the size of the settlement. Charlestown, as it was then known, was designed to meet the growing transport needs of the region’s mining boom. The beautifully preserved Georgian port is the oldest china clay port in the world. China clay was transported from the ‘dries’ in and around St Austell to Charlestown in horse-drawn wagons and exported throughout the world. The approach to the port, known as Great Charlestown Road, was designed to take six horse-drawn carts abreast: three going uphill and three going downhill. The road was, and still is, the widest approach road of any port in Cornwall. 

Enjoy free time to delve deeper into the history of Charlestown’s links to Cornish mining, or simply relax by the picturesque harbour, the unspoiled charm of which has made it very popular as a setting for historical period TV programs and films. 

At the end of your visit, enjoy a scenic coach trip through the Cornish countryside, arriving back at the pier to board your ship.

Nestled in a corner of glorious Mount’s Bay, Penzance has long been one of Cornwall’s gems. Soak up the olde-worlde pirate atmosphere as you discover the cobbled alleyways, winding streets, subtropical gardens and dockside taverns for which the town is famous. And do not forget to try an authentic Cornish pastie while in town. 

Choose two of the half-day shore excursion options below to create your experience for the day. 

 

Penzance Walking Tour 

Penzance is the principal town on the Land’s End peninsula and is only 16 kilometres (10 miles) from the Land’s End landmark itself. With a population of approximately 20,000, it is both a market town and a popular tourist destination, and features an attractive promenade on the sea front. On this walking tour today, enjoy a leisurely stroll through the town and some free time in Penzance. 

One of the remarkable things about the town is the abundance of palm trees, and gardens filled with subtropical plants, sure signs you have arrived somewhere unique. This is made even more special by the sight of St Michael’s Mount out to sea. The town has the most westerly major harbour on the English Channel. A ferry service to the Isles of Scilly is available here. 

Penzance prospered from the 16th century onwards, when markets were established and the town and harbour drew business away from nearby Marazion, the main port and market town on Mount’s Bay at the time. Penzance became a tin-trading town in later centuries. 

Walk through Penzance and experience the interest and charm of this famous Cornish town, as your guide takes you down the winding streets to see both historical and contemporary buildings. Listen and marvel as your guide makes the town come alive through tales of a time when pirates and smugglers where aplenty, and how its long tradition of music and song inspired Gilbert and Sullivan to name their famous comic opera The Pirates of Penzance

After your walking tour, enjoy some free time before taking the short walk back to the pier. 

 

Pendeen to Botallack Coastal Walk 

After a short transfer by coach from Penzance port, arrive at Pendeen, where the Pendeen Watch Lighthouse has been guiding passing vessels and warning of the dangerous waters around Pendeen for nearly 100 years. Head off on a guided exploration hike of Cornwall’s fascinating mining heritage, stopping at the dramatic clifftop setting of Levant. Levant was known as ‘the queen of Cornwall’s submarine mines’ because of its undersea levels at a depth of over 600 metres (1,968 feet), which stretched over a kilometre (one mile) out to sea. Today, the surviving buildings and ruins offer a window to another world, where men and women toiled to extract the riches of the earth from beneath the crashing waves. 

Enjoy the delightful walk along the coastal path dotted with iconic mine chimneys and engine houses, to Botallack Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Botallack’s World Heritage status testifies not only to the importance of its historical features, but also to the importance of the mining landscape and the technological developments and scientific research that took place here. The Cornish had a huge influence on the development of mining throughout the world, with over 250,000 people having left Cornwall between 1815 and 1915 to work in other mining areas. It is estimated that there are six million people of Cornish descent globally. The Botallack Mine Count House and the world-famous Levant Beam Engine have both been restored by the National Trust and are key monuments at the Cornish and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site. 

After a fascinating exploration of the Cornish coast, board your coach at Botallack for the short return journey to Penzance. 

 

Land’s End and St Ives 

Transfer by coach from Penzance to arrive at iconic Land’s End, where England’s westernmost point on the mainland plunges into the sea at the end of the cornish peninsula. Stroll around the rocky plateau where, if the day is clear, fine views of the steep granite cliffs and rugged coastal scenery can be enjoyed. For generations of English mariners, sighting Land’s End meant the end of a long, often arduous journey, while watching it fade from view over the stern meant the beginning of unknown adventures to come. 

Next, set off on a scenic drive to the north coast and the picturesque artists’ haven of St Ives. The dazzling jewel in Cornwall’s crown, St Ives is a charming seaside town and fishing harbour. Generations of artists have been inspired by the area’s undeniable natural beauty, and seduced by the clarity of light unique to St Ives and its romantic coastal scenery. A group of artists, informally known as the St Ives School, made the town the centre of abstract and modern art development in British art from the 1940s to the 1960s. Since then, the tiny fishing village has been transformed into a thriving artists’ colony, becoming a magnet for the world’s greatest painters, sculptors and ceramicists. 

Upon arrival at St Ives, join your guide on a brief orientation walk where they will point out places of interest before you set off to explore independently. There are plenty of galleries and creative hubs to discover. Perhaps visit the renowned Tate St Ives, or call in at its next-door neighbour, the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Museum. Stroll the narrow streets, with their tiny fishers’ cottages, browse for souvenirs in the boutique shops, or sample a delicious Cornish ice cream while overlooking one of the award-winning white-sand beaches. 

It will then be time to board the coach to travel back to Penzance. 

 

Scenic Drive of Cornwall’s Highlights 

Your scenic exploration of Cornwall’s highlights begins with a drive to St Ives Bay on the north coast. Passing near to author Rosamunde Pilcher’s birthplace of Lelant, the journey heads east towards Camborne and Redruth. Threading through narrow country lanes, past small granite cottages and stern Methodist chapels, with old, abandoned engine houses dotting the undulating landscape, we get a sense of a time when this area was the beating heart of Cornwall’s mining industry. 

Rising high over Camborne and Redruth is the spectacular tor, Carn Brea, a 27-metre (90-foot) granite column built in 1836 as a tribute to Francis Bassett, a philanthropist and member of the most important mining family in the area. 

Arrive in the maritime port of Falmouth, which sits on the county’s south coast at the end of the Carrick Roads Estuary. Falmouth is the traditional gateway to the Atlantic and one of the world’s greatest sailing harbours. After a comfort break, your journey continues towards historical Pendennis Headland, where the route ascends, offering a view over the dockyard below and a spectacular vista out across Falmouth Harbour. The headland is dominated by Pendennis Castle, one of the finest of the mighty fortresses built by Henry VIII to defend the Cornwall against invasion. 

The route ventures past the golden sand of Gyllyngvase Beach as you set off west to the quaint market town of Marazion. From here, pause to enjoy spectacular views of the world-renowned St Michael’s Mount. Separated from the mainland by a tidal causeway, this is no dusty museum or dormant relic of a past life. Home to a bustling island community, life on this craggy island is ruled by the tides and weather, with crystal-clear waters lapping the shores during the summer months and waves lashing the steep cliffs during winter storms. 

It will then be time to board the coach for the short journey back to Penzance. 

 

Trebah Garden and Cornish Cream Tea 

After crossing the Cornish countryside by coach from Penzance, with views out to sea of the renowned St Michael’s Mount, arrive at Trebah, a beautiful subtropical Cornish ravine garden. Rated as one of the 80 finest gardens in the world, Trebah’s 10 hectares (26 acres) are home to a stunning collection of rare and exotic plants, trees and shrubs, which cascade into a private and secluded beach on the tranquil Helford River. 

Upon arrival at Trebah, set off on a guided tour of the stunning garden, which begins with a spectacular view across the valley. En route to the water gardens with their waterfalls and koi carp, pass under canopies bursting with blooms. See glades of 100-year-old tree ferns, and giant gunneva (rhubarb) that is five metres (18 feet) high, as your memorable walk through this fascinating space continues to Rhododendron Valley and Hydrangea Valley. The journey down through the sheltered garden leads to the private beach, a lovely spot to take in the views of one of the world’s most beautiful sailing spots. 

The gardens at Trebah boast almost 200 years of history. During World War II, the beach was concreted to allow tanks access, while the garden was used as an ammunition store. On 1 June 1944, a regiment of US infantry sailed from Trebah Beach through raging seas to the D-Day landing in Normandy, but suffered huge casualties. There is a memorial at the bottom of the garden commemorating their bravery. 

After your tour of the garden, pause to indulge in a delicious Cornish tradition, a scrumptious cream tea consisting of a freshly baked scone, strawberry jam, thick Cornish clotted cream and a cup of tea or coffee. Free time follows, so explore the garden at your leisure or perhaps shop for souvenirs in the charming gift shop before boarding the coach for the journey back to Penzance. 

Discover a few of the gems of the Faroe Islands including Tórshavn, Kirkjubour, Mykines and Vestmanner. In Torshavn, possibly the smallest capital in the world, wander the narrow streets of this windswept town, built on a hillside with colourful contemporary houses and old traditional timber dwellings all painted red and with characteric grass roofs, white-framed windows and black wood. You may see the oddest array of sheep lining the steep hillsides – black, brown and even piebald ones! Perhaps catch a glimpse of Faroese ponies with their spectacular flaxen manes and coats varying from a palomino colour to rich chestnut. The town’s history can be traced back to around 900 AD when the first Viking settlers arrived here by longboat from Norway.  

Landing at Mykines can be tricky. The cliffs are sheer and there are steps to climb once you are out of the Zodiac, but the views are impressive. Geographically, Mykines is the Faroe’s most westerly outpost, and the island dubbed the “paradise of birds” featuring gannets, kittiwakes, fulmars, guillemots and puffins. We are able to get quite close to the birds by sailing under the majestic bird cliffs or on a hike.  In addition to the seabirds, the Faroe Islands’ remote location functions virtually as a magnet for birds that migrate over the North Atlantic Ocean. Around 300 bird species have been recorded in the Faroe Islands, but only around 100 species are regular migrants or breeding birds. This means that about 200 species are rare migrants and new birds are added to the national list every year. 

One of the highlights in the Faroe Islands is Vestmanna Birdcliffs, where in kayaks and Zodiacs you can explore the discover caves, arches, waterfalls and sea stacks below majestic cliffs towering hundreds of metres above. You may see kittiwakes and fulmars overhead, with razorbills and guillemots sitting on nests high above us and puffins bobbing in the sea. 

The Isles of Scilly are an archipelago of five inhabited islands and numerous uninhabited rocky islets situated 45 kilometres (28 miles) from Land’s End, the most south-westerly point of the English mainland. With a population of just over 2,000, an exceptionally mild climate, beautiful flowers and powder-soft, white sandy beaches, the isles are renowned for their outstanding natural beauty, ancient historical sites and high-quality, fresh seafood. We spend the day exploring the second largest of the islands, Tresco, which is privately owned and a subtropical gem. 

Tresco offers dramatic rocky outcrops, Bronze Age burial sites, romantic castle ruins, and the world-famous Tresco Abbey Garden, which was established in the 1830s by Augustus Smith. The garden also includes the Valhalla Museum, which features a collection of ships’ figureheads salvaged from the islands’ many shipwrecks. 

Choose two of the half-day shore excursion options below to create your experience for the day. 

 

Tresco Abbey Gardens 

This incredible, subtropical botanical paradise was established by Augustus Smith in the 19th century, around the ruins of a Benedictine abbey. A wealthy merchant banker, Smith purchased the island from the Duchy of Cornwall in the mid-1830s and began working on the gardens in 1834. Today, this horticultural paradise hosts a spectacular collection of over 20,000 exotic plants from more than 80 countries across the world’s Mediterranean climate zones. The temperate, wet, almost subtropical climate in Scilly has allowed the plants to flourish when they would not have survived in other parts of the UK. A walled enclosure around the abbey ruins acts as a windbreak, providing shelter during the winter months, when more than 300 plants are in flower. 

After an hour’s guided tour, stroll the gardens at leisure to uncover the many treasures, including the magnificent Valhalla Museum, before returning to the pier. 

 

St Mary’s Coastal Walk 

St Mary’s is the largest island in the archipelago and it is from the quayside in St Mary’s harbour that this stunning walking tour commences. Starting out through the tiny ‘capital’ of Hugh Town, with its small cluster of shops, restaurants and cafes set mere moments from the soft, powdery sands and sparkling turquoise waters of Porthcressa Bay, the route continues up to Buzza Hill, home to a Bronze Age burial cairn, and a defensive gun tower built in 1803. Pause here to soak up the magnificent sweeping views over Hugh Town and across to Samson, Bryher and Tresco, before continuing to Peninnis Head, passing the 18th-century ruins of Peninnis Mill. Venture to the end of the headland and be rewarded with the glorious vista over to the Western Rocks and Bishop Rock Lighthouse, standing tall and proud at the very westerly edge of the British Isles. 

Peninnis Head is the southernmost point of St Mary’s and is characterised by rugged granite outcrops that have eroded over time into rather spectacular and unusual shapes. It also provides fantastic views of Peninnis Lighthouse, perched on the very tip of the headland, as well as the islands of St Agnes, Gugh and Annet, the latter of which is uninhabited and serves as a sanctuary for many species of seabirds. 

The entire Isles of Scilly is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and while it is one of the UK’s smallest designated areas, it is also one of the richest and most diverse. Marvel in the peace and wonder offered by these isles, before retracing steps back to Hugh Town and enjoying views of Old Quay, a scheduled monument built in 1601. The walk concludes back at the quayside in the bustling working harbour. 

 

St Mary’s Garrison Walk 

From the bustling quay in Hugh Town, you will meet your local guide who will provide an introductory talk about the rich history of the isles. Traces of human life here stretch back over 8,000 years to when the islands were a single large landmass and home to nomadic hunter-gatherers, whose flint tools are still occasionally uncovered while beachcombing or walking through the fields. 

With a perimeter of only 14 kilometres (nine miles), the island is best appreciated on foot. Perched high on a hill just above Hugh Town, the impressive 17th-century coastal fort, St Mary’s Garrison, offers spectacular vistas across the water. Walk the thick stone walls, exploring the storehouses and gun batteries before heading to Star Castle. 

Part of an impressive coastal defence system, Star Castle is surrounded by a dry moat and was constructed in 1593 under strict instruction from Queen Elizabeth I to protect the islands. Take a well-earned break in this historical castle, with a tea or coffee, before returning down the cobbled walkway to the quay for the Zodiac ride back to the ship. If there is time, you can explore Hugh Town at leisure. For those keen to feel some sand between their toes, head to the soft white sands of Porthcressa, a mere three-minute stroll from the centre of Hugh Town. 

 

Wildlife Cruise 

The clear waters surrounding the Isles of Scilly support myriad marine life and migrant birds, drawn by the temperate climate, winds and oceanic current. Discover what Scilly has to offer, with a cruise around the eastern isles, a group of 12 uninhabited islets forming part of the Scilly Heritage Coast. With their raw, rugged edges, these islets are a haven for wildlife and keen eyes may spot gannets, cormorants, shearwaters and the friendly Atlantic grey seals, which are among the rarest seals in the world. From mid-April, the puffin returns to breed and the Isles of Scilly is one of only a handful of sites in the UK where puffin spotting is possible. Learn more about this popular seabird as well as discovering why this fantastic natural habit is so hugely important. 

Lundy Island is owned by the National Trust and managed by the Landmark Trust. The island enjoys a milder climate than the mainland, with more hours of sunshine and less rain. The diversity of the island’s flora and fauna attracts walkers, climbers and divers from near and far. 

Despite its small size, Lundy Island offers a diverse range of activities to visitors. Its 4,000 years of human history comes to life through the 42 scheduled monuments and its clutch of listed buildings. Lundy’s position, with the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Bristol Channel to the east, creates a unique combination of environmental conditions, which have created habitats that support a variety of rare and spectacular wildlife. The rugged cliffs of the west coast are carpeted with sea grass species and are home to important seabird colonies, including puffins and Manx shearwaters. In comparison, the relatively sheltered and calm east coast boasts spectacular displays of wildflowers and provides sanctuary to migrating birds in the spring and autumn. 

The diversity of marine life is as equally impressive as the life on land, with many rare and remarkable species protected in both reef and sandbank habitats. Lundy has a population of approximately 200 Atlantic grey seals that are often seen hauled out on the rocks enjoying the sun or frolicking in the water. During summer, basking sharks, the world’s second largest fish, often come to Lundy to feed in the island’s plankton-rich waters. The clifftops on the south-east coast of Lundy are said to be the best place on the island to see dolphins, whales and porpoises. Large numbers of feeding gannets can indicate the presence of a shoal of fish, which can entice a passing whale, dolphin or porpoise.

Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm are a trio of neighbouring islands named by ancient Viking visitors. They are located off the coast of southern Pembrokeshire and are celebrated for their exceptional wildlife. The islands are a Site of Special Scientific Interest and are included within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in West Wales. 

Skomer, the larger island, has a thriving puffin colony and these quirky birds with their iconic black and orange beaks are a big draw for visitors. Manx shearwaters are also found on the island, and at night, listen out for the cacophony of eerie sounds they make as they return from hunting. 

Nearby Skokholm is more rugged. Its cliffs slant into the Irish Sea, which crashes around its edges, creating a wild and dramatic landscape for photographers. 

Tiny, isolated Grassholm is the westernmost point of Wales and is situated 18 kilometres (11 miles) from the Pembrokeshire mainland. It is known for its famous gannet colony and the dolphins, porpoise and grey seals that visit the area. 

To protect the wildlife on the Pembrokeshire Islands, daily visitor numbers are heavily restricted. We are very fortunate to be able to explore the splendid coastline of the islands from our ship, or in Zodiacs or kayaks. 

Expect a warm Welsh welcome in North Wales. Holyhead is the largest town on the island of Anglesey and has a reputation for being a busy ferry port. It is also the gateway to Snowdonia and the North Wales coast. 

Choose two of the half-day shore excursion options below to create your experience for the day. 

 

Caernarfon Castle 

Take the scenic journey across Anglesey and the Menai Strait to Caernarfon, with its famous castle dating from 1283. Standing at the mouth of the Seiont River, the fortress with its unique polygonal towers, intimidating battlements and colour-banded masonry, dominates the walled town. 

Of the four castles in northern Wales built by the order of Edward I, Caernarfon Castle is the most magnificent. The grandeur of Caernarfon Castle signifies King Edward I’s intent that it should serve as the powerful seat of English government in Wales. It is said to have been designed to echo the walls of Constantinople, the imperial power of Rome, and the ‘fairest that ever man saw’ dream-castle of Welsh myth and legend. 

Caernarfon’s symbolic status was emphasised when Edward I made sure that his son, the first Prince of Wales, was born here in 1284. A statue of King Edward II can be seen above the entrance at the King’s Gate. In more recent times the heir to the UK throne, Prince Charles, was crowned Prince of Wales here in 1969. 

Enter this once-impregnable castle and explore its magnificent ruins with your guide. Afterwards, enjoy free time to explore further, or visit the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum, housed in two of the castle’s towers. 

Caernarfon town is adjacent to the castle and a good option to spend free time before returning to Holyhead. 

 

Discover Anglesey 

Discover the Isle of Anglesey with its unparalleled beauty, and vivid history bestowed by its Celtic, Roman, Viking and medieval settler ancestry. 

Drive to Llangefni, located at the centre of the island, to visit the Gallery of Anglesey. Here you will learn about Anglesey’s cultural history, the industries that thrived here, the rich archaeological finds and the tragic shipwrecks off the island’s rugged coast. See exhibitions displaying work from local artists and collections on loan from renowned organisations. 

Travelling south, arrive in the Welsh village famous for having the longest place name in Britain: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which means ‘the Church of St Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio near a red cave’. The name is usually shortened to Llanfair PG by the locals. Enjoy a short stop and take the opportunity to photograph the world’s longest railway station sign. 

Head to the Menai Strait, where you can see Thomas Telford’s suspension bridge (Menai Bridge). Opened in 1826, it was the world’s first iron suspension bridge. 

Enjoy a scenic return journey to Holyhead via the west coast of Anglesey, which is renowned for its beautiful beaches. 

 

Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path 

The Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path is a 200-kilometre (130-mile) route that follows most of the island’s coastline and goes through 20 of Anglesey’s coastal villages. The path is within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and includes stunning landscapes of farmland, coastal heath, golden sandy beaches, saltmarshes, cliffs and woodlands. It takes about 12 days to walk the entire path, which comprises 12 defined sections. 

Starting at Breakwater Country Park situated on the site of an old quarry, join the coastal path and head to North Stack. Passing an old foghorn station, take the track to the summit of Holyhead Mountain, where you can enjoy superb views from the highest point on the coastal route. On a clear day, you can see Ireland to the west and Isle of Man to the north. 

Further along the coast, enjoy spectacular views of the famous South Stack Lighthouse, built in 1809 to warn ships of the treacherous rocks on Holyhead’s coast and still in operation today. 

At the Ellen’s Tower lookout, enjoy more spectacular views of the coastline and observe numerous species of seabirds. Walking inland, we follow the ancient medieval field boundaries to return to Breakwater Country Park. 

 

South Stack RSPB Reserve 

Anglesey is a wonderful place to see seabirds! On Holy Island, you will discover the wonderful South Stack Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Reserve. The area is covered in heathland on a stretch of beautiful, dramatic sea cliffs. 

South Stack RSPB Reserve is an important nesting site for seabirds. The number of seabirds that nest on the cliffs here is impressive. Here you will find puffins, guillemots, razorbills, shags, kittiwakes and fulmars. 

South Stack is one of the best places to see the chough (pronounced ‘chuff’). The chough is the rarest member of the crow family in the British Isles and can be seen swooping along the cliffs year-round. An important conservation project is currently underway at the reserve to encourage choughs to breed. 

Other wildlife that you may see include the rare silver-studded blue butterfly and basking adder. If you look out to the sea, you may spot porpoises and dolphins. 

In summer, the heathland, which is part of the largest maritime heathland in North Wales, has an abundance of plant species, including the spotted rock rose, the county flower of Anglesey, and spathulate fleawort, which is endemic to Anglesey but only found at South Stack. 

After the guided walk, enjoy some time to explore independently. 

Phenomenal fjords, magnificent mountains ranges and a polar desert rich in fossils set the stage for heroic tales of early exploration. See walrus hauled-out on sea ice or on beaches. On land, stretch our legs on walks across tundra coming out in brightly-coloured wildflowers. We visit towering cliffs noisy with nesting guillemots and puffins, and scree slopes that hold Svalbard’s largest little auk colonies. Most memorable are encounters with the majestic polar bear on pack ice. Your expedition team is just as keen as you to find them— they will be on constant watch to spot these inspiring creatures.  

If you have chosen an optional activity such as kayaking, you’ll have the option to enjoy the activity when conditions allow. For those who are enthusiastic to participate in a polar plunge, as soon as conditions are suitable, you’ll hear the announcement to prepare for an exhilarating plunge, a memory you’ll savour for years to come.  

The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland. Its coastline features cliffs, stacks, islets and long beaches, while the hills hold important peat reserves and are deeply cut by wooded glens in the east. In recognition of its rich marine biodiversity, the Isle of Man has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. 

Choose two of the half-day shore excursion options below to create your experience for the day. 

 

Volcanoes & Vikings Walking Tour 

This is one of the most beautiful walks on the island, renowned for its stunning coastal scenery, birdlife and archaeological remains. Leaving the port at Douglas, travel via the famous Fairy Bridge to Castletown, the former capital of the Isle of Man. 

Follow part of the Way of the Gull, the Isle of Man’s long-distance coastal footpath around Scarlett Head, where there is an opportunity to see seabirds and various plants against a stunning backdrop of limestone outcrops and volcanic rocks. This part of the exposed southern coast has an abundance of historical sites. There are traces of ancient forts, chapels, old farms, a WWII radar station and a now disused flooded quarry, which once supplied stone for the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. 

The historical highlights of the walk are at Chapel Hill, Balladoole. Here you can see a Bronze Age burial site, an Iron Age hillfort, a Viking ship burial site, and Keeill Vael, the remains of St Michael’s Chapel, which dates back to the 12th century. Chapel Hill has panoramic views over the south of the Island and the Iron Age Norse fort at The Enclosure of the Stallion. 

 

Cregneash and The Sound 

Depart Douglas and travel via the scenic Plains of Heaven and the Southern Hills, from where the magnificent panorama of the southern coast can be seen on the descent to Port St Mary village and the heritage hamlet of Cregneash. 

Cregneash is one of the last strongholds of the Manx language, and this small village of white-washed, stone-walled thatched cottages (crofts) is one of the most picturesque villages in the Isle of Man. The residents of Cregneash play an important role in preserving the Manx heritage by using traditional methods of farming such as horse-drawn ploughs and allowing livestock to roam free. Expect to see sheep, shorthorn cows and Manx cats. Stroll around the village, venture inside the crofts to get a glimpse of traditional life and speak with the friendly folk that keep this wonderful heritage alive. 

Afterwards, travel to The Sound, the most southerly point on the island and one of the most scenic places in the British Isles. Seals are often spotted lying on the rocky islet of Kitterland, and dolphins and basking sharks are also spotted in the water here. Look across to the Calf of Man, a renowned bird sanctuary where many migrating birds stop for a rest on their long journey to or from warmer climates. 

 

Scenic Isle of Man 

On a scenic drive south-east out of Douglas, we head to Castletown, the original Manx capital until 1869, where we can admire the magnificent Castle Rushen (from the outside), one of the finest examples of a medieval castle in the British Isles. Enjoy a short stroll along the picturesque harbour. 

Departing Castletown, continue to the southern tip of the island, to the pretty bay at Port Erin, before travelling along the western coast of the island to Peel, affectionately known as Sunset City. The striking ruins of Peel Castle overlook the small fishing port with its quaint narrow streets and delightful harbour. 

We then continue to Tynwald Hill. Located in the village of St Johns, this grass-topped, tiered hill was established by Norse Viking settlers over a thousand years ago, with the hill thought to have been built in the 13th century, making it the oldest continuous parliament in the world. Each year, on 5 July, all the laws enacted in the previous year are publicised to the gathered government officials and the public at large, both in Manx (Gaelic) and English languages. 

On our drive back to Douglas, we pass through the Plains of Heaven, the beautiful central valley of the Island. 

 

Birdwatching Expedition 

Note: This is a full-day excursion and is limited to 24 people. Bookings are confirmed on a first-to-book basis. 

The Isle of Man is home to spectacular wildlife and birdlife. Bird species such as hen harrier, red-billed chough, peregrine, black guillemot, Manx shearwater, puffin, arctic tern and many more can be spotted on the island in remarkable habitats of exceptional beauty. Join your guide, a specialist ornithologist, to explore some of the wonderful wildlife areas and nature reserves on the island and discover the Isle of Man’s rich, diverse birdlife. Lunch at a local pub or restaurant is included. 

Islay is the southernmost of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland and is known as the ‘Queen of the Hebrides’. The island has a population of approximately 3,200 inhabitants and an impressive coastline that stretches for 210 kilometres (130 miles). 

Islay is probably best known for its malt whiskies and has eight working distilleries. Whisky is one of the most important sources of income for the island. On the south coast of Islay we visit Ardbeg Distillery, which was established by local farmers, and distiller John MacDougall began commercial production in 1815. Today, it is one of the island’s fastest-growing distilleries and prides itself for using entirely traditional methods of production. Using malted barley sourced from the maltings at Port Ellen, Ardbeg claims to produce the peatiest whisky in Islay. 

Besides whisky, Islay has an abundance of wildlife and is an important location for migrating birds. You will visit the RSPB reserve at Loch Gruinart, where you join the ranger for a guided walk through a variety of wetland habitats. With over 200 species of birds visiting Islay, you may see oystercatchers, gannets, terns, cormorants, buzzards, barnacle geese, white-fronted geese, hen harriers and even white-tailed eagles. From the beaches, seals, dolphins and basking sharks are sometimes spotted, and if you are patient, you might even see otters. 

History abounds on Islay. Standing stones, and a stone circle, show that the island was inhabited during Neolithic times. Islay was once known as the Lordship of the Isles, and you can explore the 14th-century settlement at Finlaggan, which remains the most important archaeological site on the island. A number of Celtic crosses can also be found. 

You will also visit the Islay Woollen Mill, which was established in 1883 and is Isla’s only mill. The mill is a traditional family-run business and uses two looms dating from Victorian times. The mill has made designs that were featured in Hollywood blockbuster films such as Braveheart and Forrest Gump

We aim for the tiny island of Iona. Barely five kilometres (three miles) long, Iona is renowned as the birthplace of Christianity in Britain. It is also the burial ground of early Scottish Kings. The Irish abbot Saint Columba and 12 disciples landed here and founded a monastery in 563. From this base, Saint Columba set about converting Scotland and much of Northern England to Christianity. 

On Staffa, we hope to have the chance to explore Fingal’s Cave, where the melodious sound of waves crashing against towering basalt pillars inspired Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebridean Overture. We may enter the cave in Zodiacs, or clamber ashore to walk into the mouth of the cave. On shore we will also find puffin in abundance. 

Weather permitting, we plan to land at the isolated archipelago (and World Heritage Site) of St Kilda, where derelict crofts bear testament to the fortitude of islanders who once tended the unique Soay sheep and harvested seabirds for food – paying their rent in the form of wool, meat and feathers. The isles hold Europe’s most important seabird colony and is home to Britain’s highest sea stacks (rock columns). Island hopping north-east, we aim to visit tiny specks of land that bear the brunt of violent Atlantic storms and rarely see visitors. 

On Staffa, we hope to have the chance to explore Fingal’s Cave, where the melodious sound of waves crashing against towering basalt pillars inspired Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebridean Overture. We may enter the cave in Zodiacs, or clamber ashore to walk into the mouth of the cave. On shore we will also find puffin in abundance. 

Midway between Orkney and Shetland, Fair Isle houses a major European ornithological research station and is also famous for knitwear and historical shipwrecks. About five kilometres by three kilometres (three miles by two miles), Fair Isle is surrounded by impressive cliffs. The 70 or so islanders mainly live in traditional crofts on the more fertile low-lying southern part of the island. 

A birdwatcher’s paradise, Fair Isle lies on the intersection of major flight paths from Scandinavia, Iceland and Faroe. In summer, the cliffs teem with breeding fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots, gannets, shags and puffins. The isle is an excellent place to view seabirds, especially puffins, at close range. Fair Isle also has over 250 species of flowering plants, including wetland flowers, rare orchids, alpine species and common wildflowers. We will be welcomed by the hospitable villagers and may take a hike or visit the museum. Grey and common seals inhabit the waters around Fair Isle, and sharp eyes may spot harbour porpoises, white-beaked dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphins, orcas and minke whales. 

On Papa Westray, you can choose to visit the 5,500-year-old Knap of Howar, a Neolithic farm building that claims to be the oldest standing house in Europe and the 12th century St Boniface Kirk. Alternatively, enjoy a walk at North Hill reserve in the north of the island. The reserve is home to Arctic terns and skuas and the extremely rare Scottish primrose. In the early evening meet at the Papay Pub for a drink with the locals.

During the early morning, we cruise into Aberdeen, where you will be free to disembark at approximately 8.00 am. Farewell your Expedition Team and fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys. Transfer to Aberdeen airport or to your centrally located hotel. 

NOTE: We do not recommend booking flights departing prior to 12.00 pm on the day of disembarkation, as we may experience delays at the conclusion of the voyage. 

Important note: Aurora Expeditions operates in remote and challenging environments, and in the spirit of expedition travel, we encourage you to be flexible and to adopt an adventurous attitude when joining our voyages. This itinerary is a guide only and is subject to change due to weather, sea state and other conditions beyond our control.

Note: In the spirit of expedition travel, we encourage exploration and adventure offering flexibility in challenging environments. This itinerary is only a guide and is subject to change due to weather, sea, pack-ice and other conditions beyond our control.  

Inclusions

  • Transfer from airport to hotel on Day 1
  • Welcome Reception/pre-embarkation briefing on Day 1
  • One night’s hotel accommodation in London including breakfast on Day 1
  • Transfer from London to Portsmouth, including a tour of Portsmouth, prior to embarkation on Day 2
  • Mandatory pre-embarkation health screening and COVID test on Day 2
  • Group transfer from pier to airport or hotel on Day 14
  • On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service 
  • All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage 
  • Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner 
  • All shore excursions  
  • Educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team 
  • Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult)
  • A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket 
  • Complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage 
  • Comprehensive pre-departure information 
  • Port surcharges, permits and landing fees  
  • Gratuities for ship crew 

Exclusions

  • International or domestic flights, unless specified in the itinerary  
  • Transfers not mentioned in the itinerary 
  • Airport arrival or departure taxes 
  • Passport, visa, and vaccination charges 
  • Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges 
  • Hotels and meals not included in itinerary 
  • Optional excursions not included in the itinerary 
  • Optional activity surcharges 
  • All items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, Wi-Fi, email or phone charges

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Jewels of Costal UK with Miranda Krestovnikoff

We have arranged pricing based on 2 people sharing or solo guests that are willing to share. Please contact us for sole occupancy pricing. 

Balcony Stateroom C: £8,156 pp
Aurora Stateroom Triple: £8,185 pp
Aurora Stateroom Twin: £8,455 pp
Balcony Stateroom B: £8,556 pp 
Balcony Stateroom A: £9,196 pp
Balcony Stateroom Superior: £10,705 pp
Junior Suite: £13,425 pp
Captain Suite: £15,890 pp
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