Embark on an exciting sailing adventure and discover the remote islands of Scotland, with breathtaking landscapes, rich culture, and abundant wildlife.
Discovering the Remote Islands of Scotland by Boat
Scotland is a land of breathtaking beauty, with its rugged coastline, majestic mountains, and enchanting lochs. But beyond the mainland lies a treasure trove of remote islands, each with its own unique charm and allure. For those who have chosen to leave the rat race behind and embark on a sailing adventure with their families, these islands offer the perfect off-the-beaten-path destination.
In this article, we will explore some of the most remote and captivating islands of Scotland, delving into their history, culture, and natural wonders. We will also provide practical advice on sailing routes, anchorages, and facilities, to help you plan your own unforgettable island-hopping adventure.
The Shetland Islands
Located over 100 miles north of mainland Scotland, the Shetland Islands are a group of over 100 islands, of which only 15 are inhabited. With their rich Viking heritage, dramatic landscapes, and abundant wildlife, the Shetlands are a must-visit destination for any sailing enthusiast.
Sailing to the Shetland Islands
The most common route to the Shetland Islands is from the Orkney Islands, which lie to the south. The passage between the two island groups is known as the Fair Isle Channel and can be challenging due to strong tidal currents and changeable weather conditions. It is essential to plan your passage carefully, taking into account the tides and weather forecasts.
Exploring the Shetland Islands
Once you have arrived in the Shetlands, there are numerous islands to explore, each with its own unique character. Some highlights include:
Lerwick: The capital of the Shetland Islands, Lerwick is a bustling harbor town with a rich maritime history. The town offers a range of facilities for visiting yachts, including a marina, chandlery, and fuel. Lerwick is also home to the Shetland Museum and Archives, which provides a fascinating insight into the islands’ history and culture.
Unst: The most northerly inhabited island in the UK, Unst is a haven for wildlife, with colonies of puffins, seals, and otters. The island also boasts the impressive Muckle Flugga lighthouse, built by Robert Louis Stevenson’s father and uncle.
Foula: One of the most remote inhabited islands in the UK, Foula is home to just 30 residents and is accessible only by a small ferry or private boat. The island’s dramatic cliffs and rugged landscape make it a haven for seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, and kittiwakes.
The Outer Hebrides
Stretching for over 130 miles along the northwest coast of Scotland, the Outer Hebrides is a chain of more than 100 islands and islets, with a population of around 26,000. Known for their stunning white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and rich Gaelic culture, the Outer Hebrides are a true sailing paradise.
Sailing to the Outer Hebrides
The most common route to the Outer Hebrides is from the mainland port of Mallaig, which offers regular ferry services to the islands. Alternatively, you can sail from the Isle of Skye, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge. The crossing to the Outer Hebrides can be challenging, with strong tidal currents and changeable weather conditions, so it is essential to plan your passage carefully.
Exploring the Outer Hebrides
The Outer Hebrides offer a wealth of sailing opportunities, with numerous islands to explore and a variety of anchorages and facilities. Some highlights include:
Stornoway: The largest town in the Outer Hebrides, Stornoway is located on the Isle of Lewis and offers a range of facilities for visiting yachts, including a marina, chandlery, and fuel. The town is also home to the impressive Lews Castle, which houses a museum and art gallery.
Harris: Known for its stunning beaches and rugged mountain landscape, Harris is a must-visit destination for any sailor. The island offers a range of anchorages, including the sheltered harbor of Tarbert, which has a small marina and basic facilities.
Barra: The southernmost inhabited island in the Outer Hebrides, Barra is known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant Gaelic culture. The island offers several anchorages, including Castlebay, which is overlooked by the impressive Kisimul Castle.
The Small Isles
Located in the Inner Hebrides, the Small Isles are a group of four islands – Canna, Rum, Eigg, and Muck – each with its own unique character and charm. With their stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife, and welcoming communities, the Small Isles are a perfect off-the-beaten-path destination for sailing families.
Sailing to the Small Isles
The Small Isles are easily accessible from the mainland port of Mallaig, which offers regular ferry services to the islands. Alternatively, you can sail from the Isle of Skye, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge. The crossing to the Small Isles is relatively straightforward, with sheltered waters and well-charted routes.
Exploring the Small Isles
The Small Isles offer a range of sailing opportunities, with numerous anchorages and facilities. Some highlights include:
Canna: The westernmost of the Small Isles, Canna is a haven for wildlife, with seabird colonies, seals, and dolphins. The island offers a sheltered anchorage in Canna Harbour, with mooring buoys and basic facilities.
Rum: The largest of the Small Isles, Rum is a National Nature Reserve and is home to a population of red deer, as well as golden and white-tailed eagles. The island offers a sheltered anchorage in Loch Scresort, with mooring buoys and basic facilities.
Eigg: Known for its distinctive profile, with the dramatic peak of An Sgurr, Eigg is a vibrant community-owned island with a strong focus on sustainability. The island offers a sheltered anchorage in Galmisdale Bay, with mooring buoys and basic facilities.
The remote islands of Scotland offer a wealth of sailing opportunities for those seeking off-the-beaten-path adventures. With their stunning landscapes, rich history and culture, and abundant wildlife, these islands are a must-visit destination for any sailing family.
As with any sailing adventure, it is essential to plan your trip carefully, taking into account the tides, weather conditions, and available facilities. By doing so, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable journey, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
So, hoist your sails, set your course, and discover the remote islands of Scotland by boat – a truly unforgettable adventure awaits!