With a staggering 10,250 miles of coastline, Scotland and its islands provide an unparalleled playground for every sailor – from complete novices to the most seasoned skippers. The wild west coast, in particular, boasts fjord-like sea lochs punctuated by mountainous promontories, providing both much-needed shelter and, at times, their very own weather systems.
A land of opportunity and unique experiences, with hosts as friendly as they are passionate about their sensational homeland, Scotland offers something for everyone – from music festivals, history and diverse wildlife to unrationed adrenaline, breath-taking vistas and the world’s finest whisky.
Arriving in Style
Stunning scenery is sure to dazzle visitors arriving by air, road, rail or sea – but catching one’s very first glimpses of Scotland’s enchanting landscapes from the water guarantees the most beautiful bypass to traffic, trains and tourist traps. Add to this an enormous sense of accomplishment for mastering some of the most challenging British waters and spine-tingling anticipation for the rich bounty awaiting you, and your arrival will be all the sweeter.
As the days grow longer, ‘A Sailor’s Voyage to Scotland’ on the Bessie Ellen offers a fantastic opportunity to arrive in Scotland under sail, taking in the country’s unrivalled beauty from a traditional ship. Departing from Fowey in Cornwall, sailors can soak up the gradual changes in landscape from the West Country all the way up to Scotland’s wonderful west coast while clocking up 11 days’ worth of nautical miles and an abundance of open water sailing experience, both by day and by night.
Beats a Bothy
Walkers in Scotland traditionally break for the night in a humble bothy – a simple shelter from the elements, often without any facilities whatsoever – but the crew of the Bessie Ellen can retreat to their cosy berths to recuperate after a day well spent. Those on night watch need not feel hard done by; navigating the wide-open sea by starlight provides the ultimate consolation prize. Better still, Bessie Ellen is fully catered at breakfast, lunch and dinner – and for snacks and drinks too.
Peel Harbour on the Isle of Man provides the first port of call (and an abundance of world famous smoked kippers) before Bessie Ellen sets sail once again through the North Channel, past the Isle of Islay and the narrow strait of Coryvrekkan and calling in on the islands of Colonsay or Jura (subject to the prevailing weather conditions, of course). Sailors can steady their sea legs once and for all at their destination, Oban, before soaking up all that mainland Scotland has to offer.
Oban itself makes for an unforgettable introduction to Scotland. Taking its name from the Gaelic for ‘little bay’, Oban is nestled within miles of dramatic coastline and scenic countryside, providing a gateway not only to the Hebrides but to castles, gardens, galleries, independent shops, a distillery and even a chocolate factory. Its coves and rich sea life provide the ultimate reward at the end of a lengthy voyage, with the most magical west-facing sunsets as the lengthening days draw to a close.
The First Visit of Many
Little wonder, then, that Scotland lies at every skipper’s heart. The weather might keep the masses at bay – but ensures that no sailor ever becomes a stranger to this instantly and reassuringly familiar nation.
Take a look inside this classic tall ship, and be inspired to take your first sailing holiday in Scotland.