Say what you want about British weather conditions (and chances are you’ll have a lot to say about that topic!), the fact remains that our Scepter’d Isle has more than a few fantastic spots for sailing, both inland and offshore.
We concede that conditions up and down the country can indeed be… variable. However, any sailor worth his salt should be resilient enough to handle a little rain and wind. Think of it this way: the skills you build in British weather should make the calm, crystal waters of the Med an absolute piece of cake.
So with that said, let’s take a look at to the top sailing locations in the country.
When it comes to inland sailing locations, the UK actually goes toe-to-toe with any country in Europe. Here are our recommendations.
Sailing in Scotland is, perhaps surprisingly, very good. There are several fantastic inland sailing locations, including the famous lochs. Loch Lomond is the most popular, and we can thoroughly recommend it for its breathtaking scenery, consistent conditions and the extremely friendly and welcoming sailing club.
It’s also the premier place in Scotland for yacht racing and race training, if a spot of competitive sailing takes your fancy.
With 1600 acres of inland sailing, Grafham Lake is one of the finest inland sailing locations in the UK. It’s the third largest reservoir in the country, located in central England. The waters are known for being calm, and the southerly location tends to lead to regular fair weather.
The sailing club is one of the UK’s most popular, and there are plenty of options for beginner and advanced sailors alike. Boats hire is available to non-members on day-visitor rates.
It’s the largest natural lake in England, and it’s one of the best sailing spots too. Windermere is located in the heart of the Lake District, and it’s a fantastic choice for inland sailing of all types. You’ll see the complete spectrum of boats here, from dinghies and stand-up paddle boarding to large catamarans and sail ships.
Of course, racing is definitely on the cards, and as with Grafham, daily boat hire is common and is a great option for the casual visitor who wants to get out on the water.
Because of its size, several clubs take boats out and offer sailing instruction and training courses on the Lake – don’t worry, there’s more than enough room for everybody.
Alright, so it’s not the Mediterranean. But the UK still has a lot to offer when it comes to offshore – here are a couple of our favourites spots:
As well as being an excellent holiday destination for those in search of the idyllic English island life, the Scilly Isles offer much for the offshore sailor.
The islands are surrounded by energetic waters and receive large amounts of sunshine in the spring and summer months – absolutely ideal for sailing.
Boating is in the bones of the local population. In fact, many take a boat to or from work every day – and you’ll find competent seamen everywhere you turn.
There are also several uninhabited islands, which can turn a self-directed day trip into an exploratory adventure.
As you’d expect, the sailing clubs are formidable, with plenty of instruction and hires available in sailing, windsurfing and powerboating.
Arguably the best stretch of coast for beginners learning to sail, the Solent off the coast of Hampshire has a number of advantages. Sometimes referred to as “The sailing playground of the south”, the Solent is a strait about 30 miles long that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland.
The island acts as one giant windbreak, which means that the waters of the Solent are consistently calm. Seas never get too challenging, even when the wind is up. There are multiple top-notch sailing clubs, and you’re never more than a few miles from top-notch instruction or assistance.
There’s also plenty to see along the coast, and there’s as much human history as there is natural beauty embedded in the rocky coastline – watch out for one of the many castles built by Henry VIII to ward off the French.
That should give you more than of the UK’s best sailing spots to explore. If you’re looking to up your sailing skills, be sure to check out our training courses, some of which are available at the locations mentioned in this post.