Voyage of the Betsey Part 2....

Since last summer, I have been involved in supporting and creating materials relating to an RSGS project called 'The Voyage of the Betsey'.

This recreated an earlier voyage made by a Scottish clergyman and geologist called Hugh Miller.

Hugh Miller from Cromarty was a highly influential figure in the second quarter of the 19th century. He was a self-taught geologist, writer and editor of a key Edinburgh newspaper in the lead up to the tectonic changes in the Scottish church that culminated in the Disruption of 1843. Miller was one of Scotland’s outstanding geologists, one of the first of many Scottish ‘citizen scientists’ and stands beside the greats of Hutton, Lyell and Murchison.
The Cruise of the Betsey took place the year after the Disruption, when 450 ministers broke away from the Established Church. Miller joined his boyhood friend the Rev Swanson, a keen supporter of the Disruption, who had been removed from his Small Isles parish and his manse on Eigg. Swanson used the Betsey as his ‘floating manse’ so that he was still able to serve his parishioners. The cruise was to visit Tobermory, Eigg, Rum, Glenelg and Isle Ornsay on Skye. Miller’s accounts record much about the social circumstances they came across as well as detailed descriptions of the geology, palaeontology and landscapes encountered. During the Cruise of the Betsey, Miller made many ground-breaking scientific discoveries. He wrote about his journey on the Betsey, and other travels through Scotland.

The second phase of the voyage is taking place in June 2015, and details are below:

Testimony of the Rocks: Journeys through Time (20th-26th June 2015)

Inspired by the sea journeys of geologist Hugh Miller, the Scottish Geodiversity Forum ( ) and the Isle of Luing Community Trust ( have chartered the beautiful old sailing boat Leader again to follow the ancient sea routes taken by travellers over the ages around Scotland’s Atlantic islands. From the coracles of early Mesolithic people to Viking longboats and Cal Mac ferries, these journeys have been influenced by the rugged landscape & unpredictable weather. 

We are currently recruiting 14 people of all ages and backgrounds to join us on Leader from 20th -26th June 2015. At the heart of this journey will be the stories that reveal the relationship between people and place, but perhaps above all, the importance of the underlying geology of these remarkable islands in shaping people’s lives over the millennia. The cost for the week is £550 which covers full board including delicious home cooked food.  No sailing experience is required. Some sponsored places may be available, especially for younger people.

For further information contact

Here's a piece by Norrie Bissell, read out at one of the events to coincide with this year's voyage... I love the poem at the start...