Look beyond the typical South coast boating bases and there are plenty of welcoming harbours that offer some delightful experiences
The West Coast of Scotland has many cruising treats, but my favourite base is Ardfern Yacht Centre at the head of Loch Craignish.
Six miles north of Crinan, Ardfern (pictured below) is well placed for reaching the finest parts of the Hebrides. To the south lie Jura and Scarba Islands, to the north Oban, Mull and onwards to the Small Isles and the channels around Skye.
For a short jaunt you can slip over to Crinan Basin, a leafy oasis at the seaward end of the Crinan Canal, next to a seafood bar and the Crinan Hotel.
Just across the Craignish Peninsula, Craobh Marina (pronounced ‘croove’) has views out to Shuna Island, Luing and the Mull Mountains.
It’s not far north to Loch Melfort, where you can anchor off Melfort Pier and eat superb fish at the Shower of Herring restaurant.
From here Cuan Sound leads to the Firth of Lorn (pictured above) and an unforgettable anchorage called Puilladobhrain (pronounced pool-a-dorran) between the north tip of Seil Island and some off-lying skerries.
Six miles beyond Puilladobhrain through Kerrera Sound, Oban Marina is a handy staging post for cruising further north.
Getting there: Drive 470 miles from Bristol M4/M5 interchange, 490 miles from M25/M1 oe 385 miles from M5/M6. By rail it is 8 -9 hrs daytime from Euston. Ardfern is 45 minutes by taxi from Oban station.
Pilot book: CCC Sailing Directions – Kintyre to Ardnamurchan