In his latest cruising feature, Peter Cumberlidge picks out the best remote island destinations you can easily reach from the UK by boat

Cape Clear IslandCape Clear Island, Ireland

Size: 2¾nm long
Population: 130
Watering holes: Cotter’s Bar is a great Irish pub near the harbour

Clear lies four miles off south-west Ireland and is easy to reach from Schull, Baltimore or Crookhaven.

The north side is quite stark, with crofts and houses dotted about the green slopes.

There are few trees, hardly surprising when you imagine the island in winter gales. Out to the west, there’s nothing on this latitude for over 2,000 miles until Newfoundland.

But approaching the north coast harbour you are soon enclosed by the cliffs of an almost land-locked cove.

The breakwater leaves a miserly gap for the sea to intrude and beyond it is the ferry pier. Visitors berth inside the breakwater, hard to starboard as you come in.

Wandering the quays and harbour hill, you feel the vibes of independence and contentment in this remote community.

What goes on in the rest of County Cork, let alone Ireland or Europe, is of no great concern here. Most islanders speak Gaelic, the softly lilting Irish language now enjoying a renaissance.

Cape ClearThe village shop is down at the harbour opposite a pottery, and up the hill are a couple of convivial bars.

The west of the island has sailor’s views across to the mainland, round to Mizen Head and out to the legendary Fastnet Rock.

The profile of this stark white tower on its jagged-tooth islet always adds a frisson to this corner of Ireland.

Don’t miss: An evening of traditional music at Club Cleire (summer weekends, €5 membership)

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Sark, Channel Islands
  3. 3. Yeu, The Vendée
  4. 4. St. Martin’s, Isles of Scilly
  5. 5. Skomer, Wales
  6. 6. Cape Clear Island, Ireland
  7. 7. Île De Sein, Brittany
  8. 8. Île de Groix, Brittany
  9. 9. Coll, Scotland
  10. 10. Houat, Brittany
  11. 11. Vlieland, Netherlands
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