Top ten alternative British boating bases

Look beyond the typical South coast boating bases and there are plenty of welcoming harbours that offer some delightful experiences

Solway Firth

At the top of England’s north-west coast, the Solway Firth cuts inland between Cumbria and Galloway.

While its inner reaches mostly dry, the approaches make a glorious boating area with stunning views all around. The Scottish hills have a peaceful grandeur and the English coast climbs to the great Lake District peaks.

04-Whitehaven-harbour-approachOn clear days the Isle of Man is etched sharply to the south-west. Friendly Whitehaven is an ideal base from which to explore these inspiring waters.

Once a coal-mining and shipbuilding town, Whitehaven is now a stylish resort with an excellent marina, chic shops and plenty of pubs and bistros in its elegant Georgian centre.

The harbour is set in an attractive bay enfolded by green slopes patched with former miners’ houses.

For summer cruising, Ramsey harbour is 30 miles away on the Isle of Man and with the tide well up you can lie at the town quay for lunch.

From here it’s 25 miles north to Wigtown Bay on the Scottish coast, a wonderful, usually deserted expanse lapped by the Gulf Stream.

04-Isle-of-Whithorn-01On its east side you can anchor off the Islands of Fleet and swim over golden sand. The Isle of Whithorn village (pictured above) is another Solway gem, where the Steam Packet Inn serves superb seafood.

Berthing: Whitehaven Marina

Getting there: Drive 300 miles from Bristol M4/M5 interchange, 320 miles from M25/M1, or 210 miles from M5/M6. Fastest trains take about 5 hours from London Euston or 4hrs from Birmingham.

Pilot book: The Cruising Almanac 2016

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