‘Round Britain Tour with Bessie Ellen
- Vessel: Bessie Ellen
- Where: UK
- Duration: 6 days
- Embark: Gloucester Docks - 19 April 2024, 12:00
- Disembark: Milford Haven, Wales - 24 April 2024, 10:00
Journey the leafy waterways of the Gloucester Canal before setting sails to visit the puffins on the remote Lundy Island and the Welsh seaside town of Tenby before finishing in Milford Haven.
Join Bessie Ellen as she spends her 2024 season sailing around the British Isles to celebrate 120 years of heritage sailing. Built in 1904 and meticulously restored, Bessie Ellen stands as a testament to the golden age of maritime exploration, brimming with captivating tales from the past.
Split into fourteen legs, she will encompass the landscapes and seafaring heritage of the UK. From the enchanting coasts of Cornwall to the rugged shores of Wales and Scotland, including the mystical Orkney Islands and back down the East Coast. As part of this magnificent journey, she will also celebrate the esteemed French maritime festival of Brest before returning to Cornwall and the breathtaking Isles of Scilly.
This leg is from Gloucester Docks to Milford Haven where you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a hands-on sailing experience that will transport you back to a bygone era. Discover the rich history of this remarkable vessel, take the helm, and learn the art of hoisting the sails with traditional rope work. Engage in the fascinating practice of celestial navigation, allowing you to connect with the ancient methods of guiding a ship through the stars.
- Leg 1
- Traditional Tall ship Sailing
- 120 years anniversary tour
- Fully Skippered
- Friendly Crew
- Coastal Sailing
- Great for solo travellers
- All-inclusive Board
- 100 nautical miles
- Adventurous souls needed!
Your Sailing Area
Gloucester Docks to Milford Haven
Step aboard Bessie Ellen as she embarks on an exciting journey around Britain, delving into her storied past and embracing the spirit of seafaring heritage. This voyage begins in familiar waters, as Bessie once transported post-war surplus barbed wire from Gloucester Docks. These docks, which served as a vital trading port for cargo vessels during the Victorian era, continue to hold the distinction of being Britain’s most inland port. While cargo deliveries are no longer their main trade, you can explore the beautifully restored maritime buildings and museums that line the quay.
Gloucester Docks provide an excellent starting point for joining Bessie Ellen, with convenient transport and train links from across the UK. Once you step aboard, meet your fellow guests and crew, and select your berth for the voyage, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the ship on deck. Comprehensive safety briefings will be provided, and a professional and experienced crew will be readily available to guide you and teach you the ropes, both literally and figuratively.
These voyages are a celebration of the rich seafaring history embodied by heritage sailing vessels. They offer a chance to embrace life at sea as it once was, disconnect from the fast-paced modern world, and reconnect with the natural elements. The course of the voyage will be largely dictated by the wind, reminiscent of the journeys undertaken a century ago. We’ll navigate the Gloucester Canal, operating the locks just as previous crews did during Bessie’s voyage in 1918. Today, the canal offers a serene setting, adorned with leafy green trees and cycle paths.
Once the canal has been cleared, we’ll be into the mouth of the River Severn and it’ll be time to set the sails! The highlight of this voyage will be to make it over to Lundy Island situated in the Bristol Channel just off the coast of North Devon. This tiny, remote island is a designated Nature Reserve home to lovely walking trails, a quaint lighthouse and plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities. Seals and puffins laze around the coast, quite indifferent to human visits – it’s the perfect spot for relaxation after passing the bustling canal.
As we continue our journey, weather permitting, we’ll anchor near the enchanting Welsh seaside village of Tenby. With its pastel coloured cottages adorning the waterfront, Tenby has been a postcard favourite for decades. Immerse yourself in its history, explore castle ruins, visit art galleries, and marvel at the re-creation of a Tudor merchant house.
Our final port of call for this leg will be Milford Haven, a town in Pembrokeshire, Wales. This natural waterway turned harbor has served as a trading port since the Middle Ages, captivating visitors with its maritime legacy and scenic beauty.
Each of these destinations holds its own charm and provides a unique backdrop to your voyage aboard Bessie Ellen. From the rich history of Gloucester Docks to the remote tranquility of Lundy Island, the timeless allure of Tenby, and the maritime significance of Milford Haven, you’ll embark on an unforgettable journey filled with exploration, relaxation, and a deep connection to the captivating British Isles.
All voyages for Bessie Ellen
Guest berths: 12 Rig: Gaff Rigged Ketch
Step aboard Bessie Ellen, a classic tall ship with over 120 years of history, and embark on a sailing holiday that takes you back to a bygone era. As one of the last West Country trading ketches, Bessie Ellen has a remarkable past. She sailed through the turbulent times of both world wars, and has since been recognised for her historical significance, as she proudly graces the National Historic Ships Register, signifying her importance as a vessel in need of conservation.
Today, Bessie Ellen has transitioned into a vessel that sails the waters of the British Isles and Europe, offering unforgettable hands-on sailing holidays. With a warm and experienced crew, she provides guests with a comfortable and authentic tall ship experience.
Life on board Bessie Ellen
Sail alongside skipper Nikki and her crew as they navigate the stunning coastlines of Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, the Hebrides and St. Kilda. Discover unique landscapes, encounter abundant wildlife, and enjoy delicious food sourced locally and prepared on board. Joining on this maritime adventure is Bracken, the spirited and seaworthy ship dog, eager to accompany you on your voyage!
Choose from a range of sailing experiences on Bessie Ellen. Opt for a traditional sailing weekend break, delve deeper into the maritime experience with a weeklong trip, or embark on a 10-day exploration to remote destinations. Whichever journey you choose, you can be certain that you will be transported to a world where the wind fills the sails, the sea beckons, and the echoes of history resonate with every nautical mile.
Sailing on Bessie Ellen is more than just a holiday; it is an opportunity to embrace the authenticity of a bygone era. As you step aboard this historic vessel, you become part of her living legacy, connecting with the spirit of seafaring that has endured for over a century. Book your voyage with Bessie Ellen today and embark on an extraordinary journey through time.More about Bessie Ellen
Life on board Bessie Ellen
Sailing with traditional tall ship Bessie Ellen is certainly an experience you will never forget. From the moment you board, you can feel the 120 years of sailing history this magnificent classic has under her sails. Faithfully restored over many years by her owner and skipper Nikki, it’s clear to see how dedicated she is to the rich maritime history and authenticity of sailing such a tall ship.
Bessie Ellen is perfect for those looking for an immersive traditional sailing experience while enjoying Nikki’s famous hospitality, great food and team spirit. Whether you’re a solo traveler yearning for exploration or an adventurous couple seeking a unique journey, sailing aboard Bessie Ellen promises to create lifelong memories. It’s no wonder that guests return year after year, captivated by the ship’s allure.
The crew actively encourage guests to get involved with all aspects of sailing on a traditional vessel – it really is an all-hands-on-deck attitude. This all-hands-on-deck approach ensures an engaging and inclusive experience for everyone. Even if you have no prior sailing experience, the crew’s expertise and guidance will have you hoisting sails, taking the helm in open waters, mastering basic rope work, and even picking up some navigation skills. Bessie Ellen welcomes adventurers of all backgrounds, provided they have a love for adventure and the natural world!
The other important crew member is ships dog Bracken! A small border terrier who is well-versed in life on board, loves watching for dolphins, exploring ashore and sleeping while under sail.
Sleeping and relaxation
Below decks, guests are indulged in a spacious saloon with original wooden beams, comfy open bunks and two toilet/wet-rooms where you’d be forgiven for forgetting that you were even on a boat! Each bunk has its own light, full bedding and a privacy curtain. A tiny galley sits tucked mid-ships and you will be in awe and wonder of the meals that come out of this space.
Nikki is not only a competent skipper but also an incredible cook using locally sourced produce everywhere possible.
Become part of her maritime history…
In addition to the incredible experiences mentioned above, Bessie Ellen offers the unique opportunity to embark on her round Britain sailing tour marking her 120th birthday. These voyages take you on an enchanting journey around the breathtaking coastlines and historic ports of Britain. From the rugged beauty of Cornwall to the mystical allure of Scotland’s lochs and islands, each voyage unveils the diverse wonders of Britain’s coastal heritage. Prepare to embark on an extraordinary voyage through Britain’s sailing legacy on board Bessie Ellen, where every moment is infused with the spirit of seafaring tradition and warm camaraderie.
- All-inclusive (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Soft/hot drinks)
- All bedding (pillow, sheets & duvet)
- Full crew plus tuition
- Marina and fuel fees
- All tender trips to and fro the boat
- Offshore sailing jacket and trousers for emergencies (these are not permitted to be taken ashore)
What’s not included
- Wash and/or swim towel
- All flights
- Transit hotels
- Travel to and from the boat on the day of joining/leaving
- Travel insurance
- Sailing Insurance (Please read our Sailing Insurance page for more information)
- Crew tips
- Personal expenses
Travel insurance notes
As this is an active adventure holiday, we advise that everyone has the appropriate personal accident travel insurance whilst onboard in addition to standard travel insurance which would cover you in the time between making your booking and departing for your adventure. These policies can sometimes be combined so please check with your travel insurance provider.
This voyage will not be more than 12miles offshore.
Are meals included?
Yes - and we pride ourselves on the quality of food served!
Can you cater for dietary needs?
Yes, please let us know at the time of enquiry
Do I need to tip the crew?
Tips are not mandatory but are welcomed by the crew!
Do I need to bring bedding or towels?
All your bedding (duvet and pillow) is provided but please bring your own towels (washing and/or swimming)
What language is spoken on board?
English is the main language spoken, however on occasion we have crew onboard who are multilingual.
What are the sleeping arrangements?
There are 12 comfortable berths in the former cargo hold. This is an open plan area that is also used for meals and relaxing
How many toilets/showers does she have?
Bessie Ellen has two toilets/showers for guests.
Is there WIFI?
No, but you will be able to reach 3/4G when you are close to land.
Is there an age limit?
No, but we advise over 16's for scheduled voyages as there is an open saloon sleeping arrangement. There is no limit for private charter.
Can I charge my phone or camera?
Yes. We run generators every day in the morning and evening, which run the 240 volt system of normal 3 pin sockets.
Are there life jackets provided?
Are waterproofs available?
No. Please bring your own. There are a few spare for emergencies only.
Do I need to be a seasoned sailor?
Not at all. We give everyone who joins us on board the choice to do as much or as little as they like, whether the know how to or not.
Do I have to do watches?
During a passage crossings you may be asked to be part of our watch rota, this is not compulsory but is definitely part of boat life that guests enjoy when at sea for long periods.
Will there be time to get off the boat?
Yes on most of our trips we try and explore the areas we are sailing around each day, except for passage crossings where of course we are at sea for most of the voyage.
Will I be sea sick?
Everyone reacts differently but we recommend if you are worried to take some medication 24 hours before travelling.
From: Gloucester Docks
To: Milford Haven, Wales
To see where the ports are, along with your likely sailing area, please view the sail area & highlights.
Gloucester train station is about a 20 minute walk to Gloucester Quays.
Alternatively you can pick up a bus from Gloucester bus station (also known as Gloucester Transport Hub) only a few minutes’ walk away. There are regular buses stopping directly outside Gloucester Quays.
You can travel by coach to Gloucester bus station with National Express and either walk or pick up a local bus to Gloucester Quays.
It is possible to park at Gloucester Quays car park or Gloucester train station. If you park at the train station you can pick up a bus to Gloucester Quays from the bus station a few minutes’ walk away.
If you leave your car at Gloucester Quays, on your return you can travel from Milford Haven by train back to Gloucester (4-5 hours) where you can then pick up a bus to Gloucester Quays car park.
Milford Haven train station is about a seven minute walk from Milford Marina.