september 23 - 7. oktober 2023
Just across the North Sea, west of Vestlandet, lies an adventureland and sailor’s paradise, waiting to be explored. Since the Viking Age our Norse ancestors have had close ties to and at times ruled over these archipelagos in the west. Shetland, the Orkney Islands, and other parts of Scotland were once part of the Norwegian Empire, and we will keep an eye out for traces of the Norse on this trip through these exciting places on the way home from Scotland to Norway.
This expedition offers a sea of different experiences, literally and is a good mix between sailing, culture, nature and pub- and restaurant-visits. First we will explore some of the islands of Western Scotland, before we take the boat on a mountain trip. Through the Caledonian Canal we get to sail through the Scottish Highlands. At its highest point, we are 32 meters above sea level, still aboard our expedition sailboat. This may not sound like much, but here the tree line is low and we really get the feeling of sailing through the mountains!
Further from Inverness, the trip goes north towards the Orkney Islands, and we explore these 70+ islands with exciting rocky shores and chalk-white sandy beaches. Fair Isle and Shetland are also located along our route for this trip. The sailing legs between these stops are mostly day trips, so we have good possibilities to explore on land where we pass underway. In these more inaccessible islands, we will get insight into both the history and the important coastal traditions. The historical ties between Norway and all these archipelagos are strong, and as modern Vikings from Norway, we are used to being well received along the way.
On this trip we will anyways get the chance to test our sailing capabilities a little, with the 1-2 day crossing of the North Sea back to Norway being the highlight. Out here at this time of year we really get to feel the forces of nature. The feeling of master you will get when your team successfully sails the expedition ship across the sea is priceless. Nothing compares to surfing a real wave with the ship out on the ocean! And maybe we’ll even spot a fin whale or two along the way, as in this film clip from one of our previous trips from Shetland to Norway, which you can see here.
This trip is for you who wish for a sailing expedition that contains enough time for life on land, culture and nature underway. The trip offers a well-balanced mix between inland sailing, coastal sailing, and sea sailing, and a well-balanced mix between restaurant visits and hiking trips. This is the trip for those of you who want to experience the Caledonian Canal by sailboat, and for those of you who have dreamed of visiting the Orkney Islands, Fair Isle and Shetland the real way; for sails.
From SeilNorge we have a skipper, co-skipper and guide / crew. All are good sailors, and at least one of us will have solid sailing time and experience from similar expeditions. Along the way, whether sailing or on motor, we will include everyone on board in running the boat. We will mostly sail at all hours of the day, and distribute everyone into watch teams. We rotate between the shift teams and go 4 hours on and 8 hours off. In addition, we add a couple of shorter shifts in the rotation in the afternoon, so that we also rotate the night shifts between the shift teams.
It's not just any sailboat we use on this trip, but our 70-feet expedition boat Valiente. She is a very steady and comfortable boat built in steel, made for sailing in arctic waters. The boat is well equipped and has a large outdoor area, a wheelhouse and a 360-degree-view lounge. For pictures and more info about Valiente check out this link.
This expedition is like our other adventures: primarily a major exploration, but also a great opportunity to learn a lot about sailing and navigation, and the opportunity to use the boat as a starting point for explorations and experiences ashore. Are you ready for this autumn's long-distance trip from Scotland to Norway, via the Caledonian Canal, Orkney Islands and Shetland?
Our norhtern areas are vulnerable and under pressure from people and climate change. In SeilNorge we are committed to taking care of the environment as much as possible and we believe that small boats with few people and little pollution and waste are much less harmful to the environment, climate and local wildlife, than larger boats and cruise ships. We also try to gather garbage at the places we visit, instead of leaving something behind.
It was an amazing trip/experience. From an inexperienced sailor's perspective, I felt that the trip was the perfect format as things started off pretty smoothly during our sail through the Caledonian Canal before gradually ramping up in difficulty as we sailed through The Orkneys, Fair Isle, Shetland, and then finally our crossing to Norway. The boat and crew were all great and did an awesome job of organising excursions/activities as well as letting everyone be involved with the sailing and navigation on board. We were incredibly lucky that two of the guests/crew happened to be professional chefs so the food was way beyond expectations.
Day 1: Welcome onboard in Mallaig
We meet at 17.00 on the quay in Mallaig. We start by getting to know each other and the boat, before going through the plan for the expedition. We’ll then prepare the boat for departure, and pack provisions and equipment. Life on board a trip requires cooperation, and before departure we go through routines and procedures on board, both for sailing and for emergencies. We set sail as soon as possible, and on the first day we can hopefully already reach the cozy harbor town of Tobermory on Isle of Mull.
Dag 2: Seilas rundt de indre Hebridene
Første morgen på eventyr byr på seilas rundt Isle of Mull og de andre øyene som utgjør de indre Hebridene. Vi benytter sjansen nå i starten til å gå igjennom grunnleggende seil-teori og -praksis. Slag og jibb, skjøter og fall, det er mange ord som skal læres på de neste ukene. Underveis i vest-Skottlands skjærgård har vi og et utvalg av hvite strender, små laguner og sceniske bukter å velge mellom for et stopp på anker underveis. Vi spiser middag ombord underveis mens vi har kurs innover “fjorden” Loch Linnhe denne kvelden.
Day 3: Fort Williams - the gateway to the Caledonian Canal
We wake up in Fort Williams for an early breakfast this morning. Situated at the foot of what is both Scotland’s and the UK's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, this small town is the gateway to the Caledonian Canal. Here we will start our passage started at the first possible bridge opening. We will pass through a whole set of locks up to the first large lake the canal goes through; Loch Lochy. We sail as far as we can through the canal before the locks and bridges close in the afternoon. For the evening we moor at one of the cozy villages along the canal and see if we can find a typical Scottish pub nearby to enjoy a pint.
Day 4: Will we find the sea monster in Loch Ness?
During our days in the canal, sailing through locks and waiting for bridge openings, the lovely senery of the Scottish Highlands glides by us. We finally reach the highlight when we come to the biggest of the lakes in the channel, the mythical Loch Ness. This lake in of itself amounts to about half the length of the entire channel, and with a fair winds we have the opportunity for a really nice sailing day here. We must of course keep a lookout for Nessie, the sea monster which lurks in the depths below us. After a nice day of sailing we may even have time for a little hike from the evening’s harbor!
Day 5: Back to the saltwater at Inverness
The last day of the channel is the exam itself. Now we will navigate through a series of locks and bridge openings for both road and railroad bridges, before we finally will have saltwater under the keel again. This morning there will most likely be an opportunity for some sightseeing in Inverness for those who wish, before we set sail north in the afternoon along Scotland's northeast coast towards the Orkney Islands!
Day 6 - 8: To the Orkney Islands and exploration on land
It will take just under a day to sail from Inverness to the southernmost Orkney Islands. Once in this island archipelago, we spend a couple of days exploring both the historically interesting places, and the beautiful nature the archipelago offers. Among the “can’t miss” sights is Scapa Flow, the large, well-protected, and hidden natural harbor that the British used as a base for their invincible navy during both the First and Second World Wars. Of course we must also visit the capital of the archipelago; Kirkwall. Here we find Scotland's northernmost single malt whiskey distillery; Highland Park, which requires a thorough visit!
Day 9: Sail to Fair Isle
A long day trip North of Kirkwall lies Fair Isle, a lush gem midway between the Orkney Islands and Shetland. This lonely little island consists mainly of green rolling meadows and long white sandy beaches. It iis a perfect stopover on the way from the Orkney Islands to Shetland.
Day 10 - 12: Shetland
Once in the fjords of Shetland, we will try to stop by the capital, Lerwick. We are not quite home yet so we of course need to adjust our plans according to the weather forecast. Here we again see the influence of our Norse ancestors, and the Shetlanders are clearly more Norse than other Scots. If time and weather allow, we will make a stop at the archeological excavations at Jarlshof, just south of the island Mainland. This is supposedly where men first made landfall in Shetland between 5000 and 6000 years ago.
Day 13 - 14: Across the North Sea towards Norway
The last leg across the North Sea is 180 nautical miles. Wind and weather will affect where we cross from, and where in Western Norway we land, but the final destination for this trip is Bergen. If the sail over is on the easier side, we may have time to stop by a few more places along the Norwegian coast, which would be a welcome bonus!
Day 15: Trip end in Bergen
We plan to arrive in Bergen the night before the last day, so we can celebrate our arrival with a nice dinner and drink on land. The final morning we will have time to pack our things, clean up after ourselves and depart latest by 12.00. Thank you for an unforgettable trip in the wake of the Vikings!
The program should be seen as a rough itinerary that we can adapt to the weather and conditions. We also reserve the right to change and improve our itineraries. We will have a dinghy for beach trips and small expeditions, fishing gear for cod, and gear to hike or make bonfires on the beach on all our trips - we are ready for adventure! Are you?
Deposit and payment
You pay a 6000NOK deposit when you book the trip, and the rest of the payment is due 60 days before the trip begins.
Travel - in general
Sometimes we have to fly, but not always. If you have the luxury of time, we always encourage you to travel as environmentally friendly as possible. Traveling slowly also allows you to start your holiday in a special way. Cycling, taking the train, or driving a car together can be good options! Feel free to add some extra time before and after your trip, since up north the weather can be unpredictable and might affect your plans!
Travel Scotland /Oban
Oban on the northwest-coast of Scotland can be easily accessed from both the UK and from abroad. In the UK there are both trains and buses to Glasgow, Edinburgh, and London. From Glasgow, Edinburgh, or London there are flights in all directions.
To/from Bergen the obvious choice are the train across the mountain to Oslo, with several daily departures including a night-train. There are also busses and ferries up and down the Westcoast. Bergen Airport Flesland, also got several departures both inland and abroad daily.
Safety and risk - in general
We take safety seriously and on our trips we train on handling different situations that can occur at sea. On board a boat and on trips, everyone must know what to do in potentially dangerous situations. For us it is important that you as a guest and participant are trained quickly enough to be a participant - not a passenger. It contributes to learning, a sense of achievement, and increased safety for all. It's also why our trips are considered to be sailing courses: you are trained to be one of the crewmembers on board. Feel free to contact us to discuss risk.
Safety and risk - expeditions
On our expedition trips, we often spend multiple days on sea-crossings, and we sail into areas far from people and with extra risk factors, such as sea ice and unreliable navigations charts. This requires our crew to have extra focus and awareness of the potential situations that might arise. We sail in these areas only in the most optimal seasons, and use only our largest and most sturdy boats, which are both equipped and dimensioned to cope with this type of expedition sailing. We are fully aware that sailing is the safest and most accessible way to visit these very inaccessible places. However, sailing in general, and especially sailing in the Arctic and over the high seas, involves a certain risk that you must be willing to take. Feel free to contact us for a chat and guidance regarding risk.
Level of this trip
This is a sailing expedition where we will undertake multi-day sea crossings, which can be an incredibly wonderful and special experience! You do not need to have sailed before to be on board, and we are joined by both people who have never sailed before and experienced sailors. If you are a beginner, we want to make you a seaman / woman as soon as possible, and if you are experienced, you will quickly get more responsibility and greater challenges. The group and crew will be divided into watch teams so that we can learn from each other and help each other out.
The boats we sail on our expeditions are large, robust, and sail well in the open seas.. However, we do not control the weather, and we must be prepared for wind and potential heavy seas that we might encounter offshore. From light breezes to sailing in hard weather with several meters of swell, and the proximity to the forces of nature on such an expedition is something most people find very unique and rewarding!
As with all activities, there is plenty of specialized equipment and clothing for sailing. We do not expect you to buy lots of new equipment to join any of our trips, so, use what you have, borrow what you need from a friend, try to purchase used equipment, and if you have to invest in new equipment - buy quality items that will last. What you need is something waterproof and windproof on the outside, and layered clothing underneath. Some jackets may not be waterproof enough, or might not perform well in saltwater, so you might want to consider purchasing or renting a set of “oilskins” from us to use on the wettest days (included for borrowing onboard Alma). A pair of higher rubber boots for landings from the dinghy is very nice to have, in addition to slippers to wear below deck. Out on the high seas and in the Arctic, it is cold even in summer, so bring both swimwear and plenty of warm clothes. We will send you a detailed recommended packing list in good time before departure.
Food and cooking
On our trips you will be part of the crew onboard and get the chance to participate in all aspects of the running of the sailboat. This includes the cooking, where everyone is taking turns in the galley! Skippers and guides assist as much as they can along the way. Before the trip we set up a menu and purchase what is needed. We offer good menus with healthy “boat friendly” food. If you have allergies or preferences, let us know in the registration form and we will take that into account. During the trip, we often sail by a good restaurant or two where we stop and eat.
What we expect from you
We want you to take part in the routines onboard the sailboat, whether it is sailing, docking, navigating, looking for whales and icebergs, washing up, cooking, cleaning the boat, or contributing in other ways when required. You will be split into a watch team, with the teams working in rotations of 4 hours on and 8 hours off, with a rotating system to make sure that the night-shifts are divided equally among all watch teams. Our trips require a little work from the participants - and you must be open to contribute and open up a bit socially. We have many different people with us on our trips, and most people get along very well. Our experience is that doing things with others out in nature, and not least doing things with new people with different personalities than one might be used to, is what creates the best, most interesting and memorable stories :)
Life on board and accommodation
Life on board a sailboat is social and pleasant, but for some it can be perceived as quite intimate and crowded, which one should be prepared for. On our trips everyone participates in the operation of the sailboat and everyone is considered crew. We would like to get to know you well and hope that you will get to know everyone else on the boat as soon as possible. It requires some patience, generosity, and an open mind to thrive, but the new acquaintances and completely raw nature experiences will take your focus as soon as you become comfortable with life at sea.
Accommodation on the boat is part of the fun. The accommodation is generally in shared cabins, some of which have a double bed and some of which have bunk beds. Figuring out who sleeps where can be a bit of a puzzle, but we do believe we’ve gotten quite good at it. Let us know if you have any special needs or reservations.
We have plenty of heating and good food on the boat, but not always abundance of fresh water. This means it will not be possible to shower every day, but more or less every other day we are either in a harbor with fresh water or we sail through a place where we can borrow showers or enjoy a sauna. A morning swim in the sea is free and is available all year round!
What kind of people join this trip?
Many come alone, some travel as couples, and others travel as a group of friends. The common denominator for everyone is that these are fun and interesting people you will become friends with almost no matter what. Sharing grand experiences creates strong ties! Many people wonder about the age composition of our trips, but this isn’t so important to us. It doesn't matter if you are young or old as long as you want to go on a trip and intend to do your part in making this a great trip for everyone. Most of our participants are usually between 25-55 years old. The number of participants varies from trip to trip, but on these trips we are usually between 6 and 11 people.
Environment and sustainability
In general sailing is an environmentally friendly activity,, and we sail as much as we can and use the engine as little as possible. We encourage crew and participants to travel as environmentally-friendly as possible, and we use local ingredients and resources as much as we can. We also run trips where we collect litter and clean ocean trash from beaches.
Philosophically, we often say that sailing is an exercise in sustainability: we move with the wind and we have limitations on things like water, diesel, electricity and food. In order to run sustainably, knowledge, patience, flexibility, and hard work are required. The same can be said about many other things that one tries to do in a sustainable way.