#coastalnotes - Coastal excursions off the stunning scenery of north Wales began today and exclusively up to 19 September by one of the most travelled on UK inshore vessels the iconic Balmoral, writes Jehan Ashmore.
From various small ports on Anglesey, north-west Wales and also Liverpool, Balmoral will operate 21 coastal excursions cruises mostly departuring from Menai Bridge. This location in itself is a must see opportunity to experience onboard as the vessel navigates the narrow waters of the Menai Strait and head into the open waters by those taking in an all round Anglesey cruise.
Also on these excursions circumnavigating Anglesey, will be the sights of the South Stack Lighthouse near the Port of Holyhead with its ferry connections using Dublin Port.
In addition views of the mountains of Snowdonia which too form part of the coastal splendour on excursions notably eastward calling to Llandudno and reaching as far to Liverpool. The Merseyside port featured in last year's joint RTE/BBC documentary 'The Enemy Files' presented by Michael Portillo while onboard Balmoral. The vessel acted as the 'Munster' carrying troops to then Kingstown Harbour (Dun Laoghaire).
Also a port of call this month by Balmoral will be Caernarfon with its wonderful Norman Castle dating to 1330. For further information on Balmoral Excursions (a registered charity) operated by White Funnel click here.
This year Balmoral marks 68 years having entered service in 1949 as an Isle of Wight ferry (involving crane-handled cars) for Red Funnel service. Her career also provided coastal excursions on the Bristol Channel, the south coast along the England Channel and London/Thames estuary. These coastal cruising grounds along with west Scotland have been revived in 2015 after a gap of several years due to funding issues to restore the Bristol based ship back into a seaworthy state.
At only 693 gross tonnage, Balmoral is a small ship but has played a big part in UK coastal cruising down through the decades.
Among duties has been the Balmoral's participation in the Coronation Fleet Review of Queen Elizabeth II. The small ship also acted as consort to another queen that been in the form of the majestic trans-Atlantic liner RMS Queen Mary which she accompanied on the Cunarders final departure from UK waters 50 years ago in 1967.