Tour: Knoydart and the Small Isles ·

Knoydart and the Small Isles

08.08.2020 - 15.08.2020 Western Ireland | Colin Prior adventure, animals, history, photography, travel 1750 GBP

The Knoydart peninsula is one of the remotest parts of the Scottish mainland and is not connected to the road network. The best way to travel is by boat and throughout the duration of the workshop, we have exclusive use of Mary Doune, which will take us on a new adventure each day. Travelling to and from each location takes on a new dimension with views to the surrounding islands and mountains and it’s not uncommon to see, myriad seabirds, including white-tailed eagles, dolphins and minke whales. We are based at Doune, a former crofting settlement which is located in a secluded bay on the peninsula and is perfectly situated for accessing the Small Isles and Skye. Accommodation is in a Scandinavian style wilderness lodge with views across the Sound of Sleat to the Skye Cuillin and is complemented by the adjacent, award-winning, restaurant. Our day begins with breakfast at 0800 with an informal briefing of the day’s activities. We set off aboard Mary Doune to our chosen destination – a journey that normally takes around one hour where we will photograph throughout the morning, breaking for freshly made packed lunches. The afternoon location normally involves another short boat trip from where we will return to Doune at around 1730. There will be time to review some of the day’s images and to enjoy a drink overlooking the bay before dinner. During the course of the workshop, there will be tutorials and a group critique session.


  • Spend a week developing your photography skills with Colin Prior
  • Enjoy access to some of the finest landscapes in Scotland aboard the Mary Doune
  • Capture the drama of the spectacular mountain scenery and encounter eagles, dolphins and whales
  • Enjoy fresh local cuisine in the award-winning restaurant at Doune on the Knoydart peninsula
  • Workshop restricted to nine clients

Trip Itinerary

Day 1 – Pickup from Mallaig – Doune

We meet in Mallaig which is easily reached by car or train via the spectacular West Highland Railway line. Mallaig has a long term car park where vehicles can be left for the duration of the workshop, however, this is now chargeable. A short 20-minute boat journey will take us to Doune on the tip of the Knoydart peninsula. After an informal introduction to the group and to the facilities at Doune, we meet for dinner in the restaurant.

Day 2 – Muck

After breakfast, we board Mary Doune and head south-west to the island of Muck. Our anchorage is a secluded bay where coral sands are backed by rocky terraces on which a large colony of common seals resides. The bird life is prolific with oystercatchers, ringed plover, dunlin and common gulls defending their territories. We head up and onto a higher headland which has spectacular views overlooking Rum, Eigg, and Skye and if tidal conditions permit, cross to Lamb Island. We return over Muck’s single-track road which takes us to the Tea Shop in Port Mòr where refreshments are available before our departure to Doune.

Day 3 – Loch Hourn

As we enter the fjord of Loch Hourn, the view north is dominated by Beinn Sgritheall – one of the steepest mountains in Scotland. We continue up past Ladhar Bheinn and Barrisdale Bay on the south side of the loch to arrive at a wild location where stands of the Scots pine punctuate the landscape. To the north, the lower slopes of Druim Fada are covered with forests of sessile oak, birch, and rowan.

Day 4 – Eigg – The Bay of Laig

Heading out in a south-westerly direction today, we travel down the east side of Eigg and arrive at the harbour, one hour later. Here we transfer into a mini-bus and take a 20-minute drive to the Bay of Laig on the eastern side of the island. The Rum Cuillin rise vertically from sea level to over 700m and create a superb backdrop for photography in the bay. Two distinct areas provide endless photographic opportunities: the coral sand beach and the rocky shoreline where cannonball concretions create bold spherical shapes.

Day 5 – Skye – Loch Eishort – Boreraig

Rounding the Point of Sleat – the most southerly point on Skye, we head across to Loch Eishort where the full Cuillin Ridge rises before us. Our destination today is to the pre-crofting township of Boreraig, an isolated spot on the shores of Loch Eishort. It was from here in 1853 that Lord MacDonald forcibly evicted 120 men, women and children. Ammonites can be seen in the limestones rocks.

Day 6 – Rum

Rum’s rugged coastline is a landscape of contrasts. From towering sandstone cliffs to secluded sandy beaches, its underlying geology has created some fantastic photographic locations. At Guirdil the sea has channelled a cave through a sandstone headland and south, in another bay, lies a Torridonian sandstone boulder field where a colony of the most brightly coloured lichens can be found.

Day 7 – Canna and Sanday

We head along the east side of Rum towards Canna’s north cliffs, which rise 150 metres from the sea. These are home to thousands of the breeding seabirds, which include, puffin, razorbills, shags, kittiwakes, and white-tailed eagles, which we have the opportunity to photograph from the boat. In the afternoon, we will head across to Sanday to photograph the basalt stacks on which a large colony of puffins’ nest.

Day 8 – Return to Mallaig

Following breakfast, we board Mary Doune for the final time and return to Mallaig to arrive at 0920, in time for those travelling by rail to catch their train back to Glasgow.


The accommodation is a Scandinavian style wilderness with a spacious interior and eight bedrooms. The rooms are located on the upper level while the ground floor consists of a large lounge and open plan kitchen, which is used only for tea and coffee –all meals, including breakfast, are served in the restaurant. Shared bathroom facilities are adjacent to the kitchen, with showers, basins, and toilets – there are no en-suite rooms.

Freshly prepared, locally sourced meals are enjoyed in the adjacent ‘Taste of Scotland’ accredited restaurant and are a real highlight of the trip, with freshly caught seafood a particular specialty. Special dietary requirements can be catered for. The restaurant is licensed and offers an excellent choice of wines, beers, and spirits.

Knoydart and the Small Isles
Colin Prior