Discover the sheltered waters in Firth of Clyde and explore the Southern Hebrides under sail with Bessie Ellen.
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.
- Leg 3
- Traditional Tall ship Sailing
- 120 years anniversary tour
- Fully Skippered
- Friendly Crew
- Great for solo travellers
- All-inclusive Board
- 100 nautical miles
Your Sailing Area
Troon to Oban
Join Bessie Ellen in the quaint Scottish port town of Troon in the Firth of Clyde. Sheltered from the Atlantic swell by the Kintyre peninsula with an archipelago of rugged islands, the Firth of Clyde is a fascinating area to start your sailing holiday. With ancient castles, meandering sea lochs and an abundance of wildlife, this part of Scotland is definitely best explored under sail. The Kyles of Bute are said to be one of the prettiest sailing passages in Britain and with fjord-like lochs and heather-clad hills, these waters make for perfect sheltered sailing on board a tall ship.
Over the next few days you’ll work your way North to the town of Oban, exploring the Firth of Clyde and the inner Hebrides along the way. Exactly where you’ll discover will be decided by the wind and weather as with all our sailing holidays but you’ll likely pass and explore the islands of Islay, Jura and Colonsay before departing the boat in Oban. The skipper and crew are familiar with the sailing area so know all the best spots to explore off the beaten track and spot the wondrous wildlife that the West Coast of Scotland has an abundance of.
Jura, Islay & Colonsay
The island of Jura was once the hideout for George Orwell to complete his famous 1984 and with only 200 inhabitants, its massively outnumbered by its wild deer population which has been counted at approximately 5000!
The Gulf of Corryvreckan joins Jura and Colonsay and is home to the worlds third-largest whirlpool, Scarba. Don’t worry though, Maybe will steer clear and if the weather permits, you can watch this natural wonder from the cliff on the coast of Jura.
The Isle of Colonsay is one of the smallest inhabited Hebridean islands and is known for its tranquillity and unspoilt natural beauty. Kiloran Bay is the most famous of many sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. From otters to seals to wild goats and a plethora of wild plants; Colonsay is rich in wild and unspoilt nature.
Islay is famous for its whisky distilleries dotted all over the island. There’s plenty to discover across the island with an ancient settlement, including a prehistoric fort and medieval tombstones near Loch Finlaggen.
Our final destination on the West coast of Scotland is Oban. As we sail towards the old port town, you’ll witness the dramatic coastal scenery that has earned Scotland its reputation as a land of unrivaled natural splendor. Oban, known as the “Gateway to the Isles,” welcomes you with its charming harbour and quaint Scottish atmosphere. Spend some time after the voyage discovering the town’s historic sites, indulging in delicious local cuisine, and take the opportunity to explore nearby islands and lochs.
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: Troon, Firth of Clyde
To: Oban, Hebrides
To see where the ports are, along with your likely sailing area, please view the sail area & highlights.
Troon train station is about a 15 minute walk, where a direct service to Glasgow takes 50 minutes.
National Express connections are available from Glasgow (Buchanan Bus Station). You can take a train from Troon into Glasgow and walk to the bus station (about 20 mins) or pick up a bus.
Glasgow Airport is about 50 minutes from Troon with daily flights to London, Ireland and Europe. To connect to the airport you can take a train from Troon to Paisley Gilmour Street and it is about a 20 minute walk or quick taxi from there.
Oban train station is about a 5-10 minute walk from North Pier. Trains run six times a day to Glasgow Queen Street Station where there are good travel links to the rest of the UK. Visit First ScotRail for times and fares.
Glasgow or Edinburgh Airports require taking a train from Oban (approximately 2-3 hours). Flights are direct to Stansted Airport.
There are direct links from the airport to the train and bus terminals for onward travel to Oban.
Visit the Citylink website for timetables for coaches to/from Oban.