In July 2011 Cape Farewell embarked on a month-long expedition by boat across the Scottish Islands, bringing the notion and experience of expedition home to the UK, with an exploration of island ecologies and cultures, and of the strategies for sustainable and resilient futures being implemented across the Scottish Isles. More ›

The Crew

The expedition crew of 40 includes island artists, storytellers, film makers, playwrights, architects, designers, musicians, community leaders, social scientists, ecologists, marine biologists, oceanographers, poets, acclaimed Gaelic singers and a chef.
Meet the crew ›

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Video highlights

Watch video highlights from the expedition ›

First there was an island – then there was a boat

Shiants 2
“First there was an island – then there was a boat”, so begins a poem by Shetland writer Laureen Johnston.  Since owning my first boat at the age of eleven, I have been an obsessive explorer of islands, the smaller and more remote the better.  Once, in the grip of a sudden attack of aquatic... Read more ›


Photo by Sion Parkinson
(1) On the crossing from Ullapool to Stornaway on the Calmac, I wrote myself a list of rules, a set of behaviours that would concentrate my efforts, or assuage any guilt from any feelings of impotence, in my seven days aboard the ship. (1.1) Rules: (1.1.1) Take photographs, more than you need to, get in... Read more ›

Farewell and Ahoy: Log of a Voyage

Photo by Mary Smith
“Back in the kitchen.  A new group has joined Song of the Whale. There is an overlap of crew, Cape Farewell folk, and the artists and scientists who will sail together this coming week. They are planning to sail to North Rona, the Shiants and the coasts of Skye. But I’ve left the ship though... Read more ›

Out of the Mist

St Kilda
We reached St Kilda after an eight-hour sail from Lochmaddy in 28 knot winds, on a grey-black sea wrinkled, serrated, swollen and rolling. Some of us bowled over by seasickness; the rest holding to bits of heeling boat in our storm gear, searching for the lost horizontal. 100 miles from the mainland, on the western... Read more ›

The Galley Dance for breakfast

Its breakfast time aboard Song of the Whale and a number of activities are underway in the galley: the coffee machine is being loaded at the far end while in the middle someone is standing with the kettle pouring cups of tea.   I’m not a fan of the porridge, which sits on the galley table... Read more ›

Narrative as one member of a wee expedition

Taking off
I’ve put some kit in my rucksack. There’s a camera and a phone charged up but I don’t feel much  like  sorting the spaghetti of  leads in and out of video cameras and recording gear. There’s also no need to take the navigation box. Someone else is doing the driving this trip. i catch the... Read more ›

Mingulay, Barra, Vatersay

Mingulay Cliffs
Mingulay Walking with Skye artist Julie Brook up the high, spongy, wildflower-thick hills behind the bothy on Mingulay: sand drift filling ruined houses of the abandoned village by the bay. Mingulay was emptied of its inhabitants over 80 years ago, but never subject to the violence and grief of the Clearances. On a clear day... Read more ›

Time Travel

Between the glacial valleys and plateaux of the Yorkshire Dales and the purplegrey expanses of the North Yorkshire Moors, the Vale of York spreads out like a quilt: a flat, agricultural landscape where, as a child in the 1970s and 80s, I learned how to be and be in the world. I remember barley fields... Read more ›

Cabbage and Eggs Extravaganza

David Harradine with cabbage and eggs extravaganza
It’s the first overcast, cold and misty day we’ve had aboard Song of the Whale since the Week 2 crew set off from Mallaig last Friday. But as we sail out of Castlebay harbour, leaving Barra behind us shrouded in rain, there is warmth and cheer in the galley as David Harradine rescues us from... Read more ›

Journey’s End

And so back home to Eigg.  Behind me, memories galore and plenty to ponder upon. We’d left Tobermory, finally sailing (albeit slowly and into the wind) north-west to the Isle of Rum, the lurch of the boat being more of a challenge to some than others. Rum, its mountains looming large over Loch Scrizort where... Read more ›

Turn, return

Gravestone on Canna
Walking on Canna in clear sunshine with Winnie Mackinnon, whose family have lived here for over 260 years, and Stewart Connor of the National Trust of Scotland, listening to the play of information, memory, myth and weather on these glowing pastures and basalt cliffs, I begin to understand why it’s so difficult to write about... Read more ›


Song of the Whale
I made a pact with myself last night. After spending the day seriously regretting my morning decision to not wash my hair on my one day in two that I can use Song of the Whales shower facilities, I told myself to make the most of the biodegradable washing soap that I have brought with... Read more ›