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The Inner Hebrides

Sail the Inner Hebrides on a proper boat or tall ship. Our 3-9 day sailing holidays explore this dramatic seascape from Islay to Skye with voyages starting from Oban, Mallaig and Ullapool. All our voyages are on eye catching traditional craft from historic sailing ketches to three masted schooners or tough gaff cutters. This really is the best way to see the Inner Hebrides. No need to worry about where you going to eat, the next ferry crossing or overnight accommodation. It is all taken care of on board. Your home comes with you in a quiet ecological way. We stop where it is interesting and safe to anchor and you get plenty of opportunity to explore ashore.

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Why we love this sailing ground

The Inner Hebrides as a Sailing Destination

The Inner Hebrides stretches from Islay in the South to the high mountain ridges of the Cullins on Skye. If you include the mainland coast of Argyll you have a cruising ground with a coastline longer than France. Even if you had a month on a sailing boat it would not be possible to visit them all, which is why every trip is different.

The large number of islands with deep water sounds creates one of the best sailing grounds in Europe. High cliffs or mountains often offer flat water sailing on the leeward side of islands and with sea lochs on the mainland too there is an infinite number of wild anchorages. Tucked into the most sheltered places are the fishing ports and boat orientated communities that love to see a good looking wooden ship in the bay.

Eda Frandsen in the Inner Hebrides
Eda Frandsen in the Inner Hebrides

Sailing Around Skye

Skye has over 400 miles of coast - the longest of any island in the UK let alone Scotland. The skyline is unmistakable in the South as the Cullin ridge dominates, but the red cliffs on the West coast and the unusual Quiraing spikes to the east can be spotted as you sail around Skye. Portree is a busy harbour if you are craving people, but Loch Harport has a stronger pull.... You can anchor off the oldest working distillery on the Isle of Skye - Talisker Whisky.

A mountaineers delight, rugged and sinister Loch Scavaig is one of the most atmospheric places to step ashore. Surrounded by sheer mountainside that cascade with waterfalls at even the slightest hint of rain, this anchorages is a bit unnerving if you know anything about katabatic winds

"Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing - over the sea to Skye" - Skye Boat Song

Melissa from Classic Sailing, skippering Eda off Loch Scavaig
Melissa from Classic Sailing, skippering Eda off Loch Scavaig

Other Islands near Skye

Raasay, Scalpay, Longay, Rona, Soay and Eilen Mor all make for interesting sailing and secluded anchorages.

Traditional Sailing in the Small Isles

The Small Isles are a group of four small islands forming part of the Inner Hebrides.

Canna - Birdwatching & a Famous Cafe Canna

Starting with the Northern most Island in the Small Isles is Canna. This is a very special island with a well sheltered harbour some interesting Chapels and amazing beaches. The island shop sits on the Quay and though pretty small is good for unique souvenirs. Canna Cafe is in a great spot too.

West side of Canna by Melissa Williams
West side of Canna by Melissa Williams

Rum for Sea Eagles & Eccentric Castles

Rum also known as Rhum has the not so old but fascinating Kinloch Castle built in red sandstone by a textile baron in 1897 called George Bullough, If you get a chance you really do want to pay it a visit and its bouncing Ball Room with hidden orchestra pit. Asking why it is hidden might amuse you! Rum is also a good spot to look for Sea Eagles and its geology has adverse effects on ships compasses.

Sail to Eigg

Eigg's history is colourful but often turbulent. Its green pastures, fertile slopes and sheltered bays have always made it a desirable place to settle. Long fought over, and handed from one odd owner to another, it was only in 1997 that life and ownership on Eigg took a decided turn for the better when the island inhabitants took effective control of the island. They have introduced renewable sources of energy and have become quite an alternative place to live. Eigg is now growing in population and resources. There is a unmistakable mountain called the Storr which makes a great landmark for your navigation and three point fix practice. It is also rather fine to climb if you have the time ashore.

Next sailing destination - Sunset over Eigg in Scotland
Sunset over Eigg in Scotland

Muck for Wild Swimming & Great Views

Muck is the smallest of four main islands in the Small Isles. It measures roughly 2.5 miles east to west and has a population of around 30, mostly living near the harbour at Port Mòr.

Mountainous Mull, Coll and Windy Tiree

If the weather is fine then exploring the wild west side of Mull, instead of the more usual Sound of Mull route is like another world.  Flat and sandy Tiree is famous in the winter for windsurfing. Coll has a wooden jetty that can accomodate quite large tall ships. There are many lesser known anchorages on this Atlantic side of Mull. The 'fleshpots' on the east side include the colourful town of Tobermory. and famous Mishnish pub. Loch Sunart or Loch Drambuie are more remote hideaways on the mainland side of the Sound of Mull.

beach to yourself
beach to yourself in the inner hebrides

Lochs and Castles

The islands and mainland bordering the Inner Hebrides have many exquisite Lochs and Castles where you will see a lot of history. Tioram Castle in Moidart Loch is one of our favourites, as is Duart Castle. 

Marine Wildlife of the Inner Hebrides

The deep waters between the islands are rich in marine wildlife, including whales, basking sharks, and dolphins. Harder to spot along the shoreline are otters and seals. 

The Inner Hebrides has lots to offer for wildlife watching and the seas team with sea birds and keep a good lookout for whales, dolphins and basking sharks.

A lot of the sealife you can also eat - Langoustines, scallops, shrimps.....

seafood feast in scotland on Eda Frandsen
seafood feast in Scotland on Eda Frandsen

 

Explore more
'Ring of Bright Water' - Otters, Sea Eagles, Golden Eagles, Puffins, Minke Whales, phosphorescence.
Destination Vessels
The Hebrides is a familiar sailing ground for Leader. Adventure weeks & themed voyages with experts
Explore the South West Coast and Islands. Caledonian Canal to Moray Forth & Eastern Scotland
Regions
an idyllic chain of over 40 islands. Sandy dunes on the Atlantic side & a long history of sea trade
World Heritage Site -puffin traders

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