Some of the most awe-inspiring television in the past few weeks has been a nature documentary series shown only on BBC Scotland, although it was available south of the Border on the iPlayer and on Sky Channel 951.
With a voice-over by Ewan McGregor and stirring shots of sea eagles and otters, rutting stags and basking sharks, HEBRIDES: Islands on the Edge has been an absolute feast.
Those sharks could get you a discount on a visit to the region – just mention them when booking a cruise with Majestic Line to get £250 cash-back.
The marine juggernauts – the second-biggest species of fish in the oceans – have become frequent visitors to the Western Isles and they can grow to about half the size of each of Majestic’s two boats. Glen Massan and Glen Tarsan are converted trawlers, 85-ft long and each carrying 11 passengers and four crew.
Says owner Andy Thoms: “The extraordinary light and natural beauty on offer during the summer months is incredible. During July and August, guests enjoy 18 hours of daylight and spectacular late-night sunsets when the weather is at its most benign, the wild seashore machair is in full bloom and some of the best local wildlife can be discovered.”
“Our vessels visit areas off the beaten track and far from the tourist trail, allowing guests to enjoy this glorious coastline at its wildest and most unspoiled. Minke whales, porpoises and dolphins can be seen at close quarters as they swim alongside our boats; colourful puffins, sea eagles, ospreys, and cormorants are regularly spotted as well as seals sunning themselves on rocky shorelines.
“Nothing beats anchoring at a sheltered bay, and the chance to explore a footprint-free white sandy beach while the onboard chef prepares another delicious meal.”
A popular summer cruise choice is to sail round the stunning Isle of Skye, via the mystical Isles of Eigg, Muck and Rum, and on to one of the last great North European wildernesses, the isolated Knoydart peninsula. Cut off from mainland Britain, this beautiful and remote area of Scotland with a population of under 100, can only be accessed by boat or 16-mile trek from the nearest road and boasts some of the wildest and most unspoiled scenery in Scotland.
Another option is the idyllic Southern Hebrides, following the coastline of Mull and Argyll to the exquisite and remote small inner Hebridean Isles of Colonsay and Gigha, where basking sharks are commonly seen each summer.