From metropolitan marinas and busy ports to the open seas and peaceful archipelagos, sailing is the definition of both freedom and excitement.
There’s no denying it’s possible to experience the beauty of Britain from the land, yet there’s something remarkable about accessing it via the water. Even more so whilst aboard a traditional sailing boat or Tall Ship. Heading towards the horizon, rigging overhead, powered by nothing but the wind adds a sense of excitement to any adventure. Fortunately, Britain’s diverse coastline offers a rich selection of places to explore. From rough seas and Celtic crossings to the serene waters of tidal creeks, here are some of our favourite Tall Ships and traditional sailing adventures to take part in this summer.
Recharge on nature
For those wishing to “recharge on nature”, The Coastal Exploration Company, Norfolk have a small fleet of traditional fishing boats from which they explore the waters in and around Norfolk. Their three boats – a whelk boat, a crab boat and a mussel flat – berth between four and eight people and are available for a variety of excursion types. An appreciation for the environment and positive social change underpins each of the explorations on offer, whilst also engaging with the history and wildlife of the local area. Whether you decide to opt for a Salt Marsh sail through protected tidal creeks, embark upon a wild swimming and foraging expedition, book a wellness adventure, or enjoy an overnight sail sleeping in hammocks underneath the stars, you’re guaranteed to connect with nature and encounter the wilderness of the north Norfolk coast.
A slice of British Paradise
Explore the UK’s largest archipelago as part of the guest crew of a replica Scillonian Pilot Cutter. Working Sail’s hands-on, week-long sailing holidays to the Isles of Scilly are perfect for those looking to sail solo, or with friends, and to gain some sailing miles. After taking the 60-mile trip from Falmouth to Scilly, prepare to meander amongst the five inhabited islands and numerous uninhabited islands, whilst soaking up views of pristine white sandy beaches and azure waters. There’s a sense of remoteness here and a wide range of wildlife to be enjoyed from a selection of stunning anchorages. You can choose to participate as much or as little as you like in the crewing side of things, striking the balance between both sailing and relaxing.
For the adventurer
Sail your way from Wales to Ireland on an impressive Tall Ship with Kraken Travel (Cardiff to Dublin). Perfect for those looking to spend a bit more time under sail and to head out to the open seas, this Cardiff to Dublin route includes six nights aboard the STS Tenacious.
Regardless of whether you’re an experienced sailor or a complete novice, this trip provides you with the opportunity to get your sea legs.
Participants can expect to join as part of the crew, getting full, hands-on tall ship sailing experience and taking part in activities such as watch keeping and going aloft. Expect to feel a sense of escapism as you hit the open water and soak up the Irish coastline, whilst getting to know what it’s like to enter into two of Britain’s vibrant capital cities by boat.
For the beginner
Based in Portland Marina, Moonfleet Adventure Sailing (Dorset) operates a 1930s tall ship originally built in Holland. The ideal opportunity for families and people of all ages to ‘dip their toe in the water’, there are a range of daytime experiences on offer, ranging from two to six hours in length. All excursions offer a chance to soak up the views of Weymouth Bay and beyond. The longer excursions make their way towards the iconic Durdle Door for a picnic and a more in depth exploration of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For the wildlife enthusiast
Bessie Ellen (Scotland) is a vessel with a colourful past. One of the last remaining sailing cargo ketches, this historic sailing ship traded during a time when Tall Ships and rigged vessels were an everyday sight in Britain’s ports and harbours. Now 116 years old, Bessie Ellen is on the National Historic Ships Register as an important vessel to conserve. On offer are a series of voyages of between three and seven days around the British coast, with a fantastic selection in both Scotland and Cornwall. Our favourites are the Scottish wildlife tours, where there’s a good chance of spotting red deer, otters, golden eagles and red squirrels. Plus, whales, seals and dolphins in the water. Bessie Ellen adventures are known to be great for the independent traveller as much as for groups and couples.
Falmouth tall ships regatta
Cornwall, 17 – 19th August 2021
The pinnacle of Tall Ship sailing, this year’s annual Tall Ships Race starts in Falmouth, Cornwall. Over 30 Tall Ships from around the world are expected to be anchored in Falmouth for three days of festivities before racing to A Coruna in Spain. The main attraction is the Parade of Sail (19th August) before the race start, which involves the Tall Ships, along with hundreds of supporting local boats and marine craft sailing in company out of the harbour. Visitors will be able to take tripper boats into the Carrick Roads to view the ships up close whilst they are anchored and there will be a range of shoreside activities including markets and music during the course of their stay.