The days are getting longer, so it’s about time you started preparing for the sailing season. In addition to getting your vessel ship-shape, it’s time to start planning your destinations. Here is a list of our favourite UK ports to get you in the mood.
Top UK ports:
Yarmouth, Isle of Wight
With its small harbour crowded on summer weekends, Yarmouth is of the most popular UK ports for a reason: It’s a lovely village to visit, with plenty of pubs, eating places and a useful chandlery. Best of all, the beautiful scenery of the Needles and Alum Bay are just a few miles’ walk away.
Falmouth’s harbour has been used for centuries for trade, war and pleasure – and it’s a great place to spend a few days. The town centre is well worth a visit, with an excellent maritime museum, but should you fancy escaping from the melee, then there are many anchorages in the harbour where you can be all alone.
Walton Backwaters, Essex
Immortalised by Arthur Ransome in his children’s book Secret Water, The Walton Backwaters are a great place to enjoy your time afloat. Best explored in the tender, there are muddy creeks, secluded beaches and some great pubs to entertain you.
Travelling up the mighty Thames in a boat of your own is a unique way to approach the capital, with its layers of history there for all to see. If you’re lucky you can berth at St Katherine’s Dock, right next to Tower Bridge, or there are other options further downstream at Limehouse and South Dock. As a way to stay in London on a budget, it can't be beaten.
St Peter Port
Guernsey’s St Peter Port is a charming mix of English and French – as befits its location a few miles off the French coastline. You can moor on outer pontoons, or inside the locked marina – but either way, you can walk ashore and sample the delightful atmosphere.
While the entrance can be nerve-wracking, once inside it’s easy to fall in love with Wells-Next-the-Sea. If your boat can take the ground, it’s a pretty harbour with some wonderful small shops ashore and enough wildlife to keep you watching from your boat for hours.
A walled city with most of its ancient buildings still intact, Caenarfon lies off the tidal Menai Strait. The historic Victoria Dock is located near the walled town and there are many pubs and places to eat, but it’s a great place to soak up the atmosphere.
Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
Well-protected from the South West, Stornoway is a great place to stop, and you can find cruising sailors from all around the world there, as well as all the facilities you’ll ever need.
Tobermory, Isle of Mull
Tobermory is a picture-postcard port on the Isle of Mull which is rightly popular with boaters and has been since Queen Victoria visited in 1847. It’s sheltered from most wind directions and has some great shops, pubs and restaurant to pursue ashore.
Whitby, North Yorkshire
With its ruined Abbey visible on the approach, Whitby is a great place to visit. James Cook hailed from here, and the town has a good range of things to do for all ages. Don’t miss the fish and chips, which are to die for!