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Isle of May

I'm wrestling with our May '24 tour itinerary, and looking for feedback on an Isle of May visit. We were just on Rathlin in N.I. and my wife loved it. We also planned a Blasket visit but the swell was too large We're avid bird watchers and suckers for puffins and like wildflowers and countryside walks.

The downside is that it requires a full day (and two nights), which is a diversion from other possibilities. Specifically, I plan to spend one night each in Anstruther and Culross, or possibly both nights in Anstruther, depending on which day the visit falls (the landing is tidal). Having a weather driven Plan B is always good, and St. Andrews in already on the route - Perth?

Posted by
358 posts

I don't understand why it's going to take a full day and two nights - the Isle of May is just off the coast and most of the day trips to it are about five hours in length. You could just go as a day trip or at most stay one night in the area of Anstruther. I would suggest the Ship at Elie

Posted by
446 posts

According to the boat tour website, it's a 5-5 1/2 trip. It leaves at a sliding time with the tide, and they won't promise the exact time more than a season away. I can guess what the departure time is by matching the dates and tides to the 2023 season, but it's got a +-one hour error range. By the time the departure time is firm, lodging will be booked and probably not easy to change.

Posted by
3209 posts

I would email the Boat Company and ask them what sort of date in early 2024 they expect to release timings (and more pertinently tickets) for May.
It may be worth asking the company what the mean cancellation or non landing rates are, just for guidance.

Clearly you understand that this could be like Blasket and you go to all that effort and then find the trip is either cancelled outright or becomes non landing, but that is the risk of island visits anywhere.
I think it's worth taking a punt on it, booking on a cancellable basis a hotel in Anstruther for the two nights, then trying your luck.
In May I wouldn't have thought you need to book a hotel a massive time ahead (again try to get a feeling from local hotels where they see the booking situation- please don't take my word on that).
I think it's worth a good go with juggling hotel availability and boat release dates, and then hoping that the weather plays it's part.

If it all went 'belly up' maybe a trip on one of the Forth boat trips from South Queensferry to Inchcolm would be a good substitute. Perth is always a good standby, maybe also the various museums at Dundee, maybe a trip up the coast to Inchcolm. There is also a lot of good coastal walking in the area.

I say good luck with trying to make this plan work.

Posted by
6855 posts

I think Anstruther is worth spending the night. But I suppose, depending on where you're coming from and where you will go afterward would determine if two nights are needed so you have enough time for the trip to Isle of May - which, by the way, is well worth visiting. I loved our time on May and for birdwatchers it's a dream. We saw plenty of gulls, arctic terns (both adults and chicks) and puffins. It's also quite scenic with an old stone bridge and three lighthouses. I'm not sure about wildfowers, I don't remember them when we were there in early August, but maybe in May they will be blooming. If you need a weather driven plan B, I can't speak to Perth, but Dundee has plenty to see and do for a day and if you want to go a bit further Arbroath is a nice coastal town for a visit.