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Sailing in Scotland

Scotland offers you some of the finest sailing waters in the UK and how better to explore the rarely reached remote areas of the Western Isles or the charms of the Inner Hebrides than on a traditional sailing vessel? Our skippers will be your wildlife and cultural guides, teach you to sail, and inspire you to make the most of your active holiday on board and ashore.  These are fantastic voyages if you love mountains and rugged coasts and want to see Scotland through the eyes of a sailor, get close to wildlife and reach some of the most inaccessible wilderness areas in Britain by boat.

Classic Sailing has a wonderful choice of skippered and fully catered sailing holidays that sail in the Scottish waters. Our traditionally rigged boats, schooners and tall ships roam from St Kilda to Shetland, Skye to Islay. Many voyages are themed and beginners will enjoy shorter breaks exploring the islands whilst more experienced sailors may enjoy the challenging expeditions to St Kilda or the Faroes.  


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Why we love this sailing ground

Mountains, Rich Seas and Abundant Wildlife

The Gulf Stream and its warm waters mixing with the cold waters off the mountains create a unique marine micro climate rich in plankton. This is the foundation of the food chain that attracts the whales and other wildlife from the end of spring to the end of summer.

Abundant fish and shellfish is good news for the saloon table too.  Several of our vessels are excellent at wild food foraging with crab creels and local fishing boats provide a boat to boat option for buying or bartering for fresh langoustines or scallops.

The high sea cliffs and remote rocky islands offer breeding grounds for ocean birds like puffins and guillemots and sea eagles and golden eagles soar around the mountain summits and ridges.


Puffins in the Shiant Islands, Scotland

Wind Conditions - Flat Water Blasts.

Scotland frequently offers warm sunny days and great sailing conditions. At times Scotland can be very windy and the gales can come in fast off the Atlantic at any time of year. The secret ace that sailing in Scotland has over sailing in other Atlantic facing shores like Cornwall or Ireland is the protecting influence of the island chains. The Inner and Outer Hebrides and the tall mountains give you options to find flat seas and sheltered anchorages from almost any wind direction. There are many miles where our tough sailing ships can escape the ocean swell and go for an awesome flat water blast. Not everywhere is protected, but at least there are safe havens where you can go to reef down and reduce sail so you can tackle the next exposed headland or firth. 

Sailing the wild west coast of Skye

Long Mid Summer Days 

In June the sun sets very late in the evening so Scottish midsummer days are long. When a high pressure system sits over Scotland you can find yourself in a heatwave with waters so still the mountains and blue skies create a mirror image. The warm Gulf Stream means you can swim off the boat or beach-comb on white quartz sand beaches with no other sunbathers in sight. When a depression sweeps in - boy can it rain, but when the weather front clears the views are crystal clear.

Wild Swimming on a sailing holiday in Scotland. North Uist in the Outer Hebrides

A Boat as your Bothy - Sailing and Walking

 Sailing in the Western Isles of Scotland is one of the best ways of exploring these remote islands. You do not have to worry about accommodation, it’s close to nature but cosier than camping!

The choice of anchorages is endless on a sailing holiday in Scotland and your 'restaurant' and home comes with you. The energetic can climb to the highest point ashore and look down on your boat alone in perfect natural anchorages that south coast sailors can only dream of. If you prefer solitude to wander the edge of the loch looking for otters, or sketch the landscape then our skippers can generally suggest shorter walks or perfect beaches near to your landing spot. The best bit of the day if often swapping stories from each others forays ashore. Self sufficient aboard your floating home; you can relax snugly in the saloon and wait for supper with an appetite as large as the hills.

Read our blog - 'Better than a Bothy' to understand why walking and sailing in Scotland is a great combination.

Sailing and walking holidays in Scotland.
Explore more
'Ring of Bright Water' - Otters, Sea Eagles, Golden Eagles, Puffins, Minke Whales, phosphorescence.
Which ship for my adventure?

If your heart is already set on Scotland as a cruising ground, then your next choice might be 'Which vessel?'

Even our smallest vessels in Scotland are bigger than most yachts you could charter. 56ft gaff cutter Eda Frandsen is our main Scottish specialist, based in Mallaig. She carries a skipper James, who is also the owner, a mate and cook, so you can easily come as an individual, and quickly learn the ropes with a friendly group of 8 guests. 

Brixham Trawlers like Leader or Provident are self sufficient wooden ships that make the journey to the Hebrides regularly and spend part of the summer, enjoying the deep waters and numerous anchorages. Both sailing trawlers take up 11-12 guests and 4-5 crew.

Another sail training style ship that loves to explore Scotland is Maybe. This wooden gaff ketch is popular with young people but takes all ages, often sailing around the Firth of Clyde. 

Original 1907 West Country Trader Irene also looks perfectly at home amongst Hebrides. Whilst 115ft overall, she only takes 8 guests in en suite cabins. She often has themed voyages like Sea Kayaking, guided walking  or whisky tasting. Her season in Scotland is typically May to early July from Oban as a joining port.

Tecla and Oosterschelde are Dutch tall ships that have sailed the world, and often visit Scotland on the way to more far flung destinations. Tecla has made Ullapool her favourite Scottish home port, as it has easy access North of Skye to the Shiant Isles, Outer Hebrides and St Kilda.  She spends time in the Hebrides in the Spring, when there is still snow on the Highland summits on the way to Iceland and Greenland.  

Oosterschelde is a large three masted topsail schooner with elegant below decks accommodation including a piano.


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World Heritage Site -puffin traders
an idyllic chain of over 40 islands. Sandy dunes on the Atlantic side & a long history of sea trade

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Why book with Classic Sailing?

The call of the sea

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Over 300 voyages a year

11, 051 customers introduced to

traditional boats and tall ships.

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Office Team of Skippers

6 Times Around the World between Us

Selling Holidays for 22 Years

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