The bucket list for many sailors, the West Coast of Scotland truly is one of the finest sailing destinations in the world. As well as being one of the largest areas of sheltered deep water in the British Isles, the Firth of Clyde is rich in history with an abundance of safe havens, and surrounded by jaw dropping scenery.
Cruising the Firth of Clyde has become far easier and more attractive in recent years thanks to a wealth of investment. As well as its wild anchorages, remote villages, unique wildlife and hauntingly beautiful scenery, Ayrshire also boasts modern marinas with a growing number of pontoon visitor berthing within even the smaller fishing towns.
As a result, marine tourism is one of Scotland’s biggest assets with growing links between the country and boating organisations across Ireland and Scandinavia.
So where will your Scotland adventures take you? Read on to see what incredible destinations are waiting for you this summer…
The charming seaside resort of Largs is steeped in history with boating at the heart of the community. The town’s Viking heritage is celebrated each year in an annual festival with Vikingar museum one of the most popular museums in Ayrshire. Sharing the town’s fame is Nardini’s , a 70 year old ice cream parlour! Largs is also home to Scotland’s award winning marina, Largs Yacht Haven, with year-round racing and the active Largs Sailing Club.
2. Isle of Cumbrae
Just a mile across the Firth of Largs lies the Isle of Cumbrae, known as ‘Jewel of the Clyde’. Millport, the largest town on the island, is home to sandy beaches and a safe place for children. The small island is also great for cycling – bikes can be brought across on the ferry from Largs with hire also available from Largs Yacht Haven. The 10mile circumnavigation is suitable for all levels of cyclists with plenty of pubs and shops en route! Visitor moorings aplenty.
3. Isle of Arran
Nicknamed ‘Scotland in miniature’, Arran boasts everything that Scotland is famous for – mountains, castles, beaches, golf courses and distilleries! Start your trip at Lamlash overlooking the bay to Holy Isle, home of Buddhist monks. From there, head north to Brodick Castle to which lies in Britain’s only island country park. Great for hiking, the views from on top Arran’s famous Corbett, Goat Fell, will take your breath away. Lochranza at the north end has visitor moorings and a landing pontoon to assist shore access to the distillery!
4. Kyles of Bute
One of the prettiest passages on the Firth of Clyde takes you along the fjord-like waters of the Kyles of Bute. The navigation of Bute takes you past the pretty village of Colintraive, and the historic fishing harbour of Rothesay which has visitor pontoons. Mount Stuart, the incredible historic home of the Marquis of Bute family is well worth a visit
Arguable the safest harbour on the west coast, Scotland is a popular destination for boaters starting their Scottish adventures. The large harbour walls protect the marina from all wind directions, with fuel and boatyard facilities on-hand. The town is well-known for it’s stunning beaches, pretty esplanade and championship links golf courses in the world. The town also has some of the freshest fish restaurants on offer, or you can wind down with drinks on the terrace at Scotts restaurant overlooking the marina.
Firth of Clyde
Isle of Cumbrae
Troon with Arran in background
Troon Yacht Haven
Kyles of Bute
Isle of Cumbrae
Kyles of Bute
Having sailed between the Islands of Pladda and Ailsa Craig, you’ll see some breathtaking scenery as you sail west towards Campbeltown Loch. A well-deserved local whisky will await you at the superb Royal Hotel, or you can get your walking boots on and join the Kintyre Way footpath. Visitor pontoons available.
7. Isle of Gigha and Jura
Ok, we'll admit that Gigha and Jura aren't technically in the Firth of Clyde! Bbut if you’ve got the luxury of taking a longer trip then they are well worth a visit - so why not continue your trip round the Mull of Kintyre to these beautiful islands, before joining the western end of the Crinan Canal. These remote parts of the North Channel offer some of the most stunning sailing opportunities. Visitor moorings are rarer in these regions, but you’ll find several sheltered anchorages including Craighouse on Jura where the popular Jura distillery can be found.
8. Crinan Canal
At 9 miles long, the canal links Loch Fyne at Ardrishaig with the Sound of Jura. The canal is flanked by uninterrupted views of the natural landscape. Cruising through the canal takes around a day, but licences allow for 4 overnights so be sure to step ashore and enjoy the local area.
One of the most popular harbours on the Clyde, Tarbert is shadowed by the remains of the ancient castle. Pontoon berthing awaits with the port famous for its historic fishing fleet, a popular food & drink culture and stunning views.
On the opposite side of Loch Fyne lies Portavadie. Once your eyes have been drawn away from the stunning rolling hills on either side of the loch, you’ll discover a modern hotel, marina and spa resort. One of many places on the Firth of Clyde that is almost inaccessible by road, you'll be greated by a touch of luxury – a rarity in these remote waters!
Where to berth?
Largs Yacht Haven - Scotland’s largest marina, Largs Yacht Haven offers visitor, seasonal and annual berthing for over 700 yachts. As well as deep water, fully-serviced pontoon berths, the marina offers a range of boatyard services including a 70 ton hoist operating 7 days a week. Ashore, boaters can take advantage of a chandlery, shops, cafes and restaurants, marine services and much more.
- 730 full tide berths
- Free Wi-Fi, plus water and electric and every berth
- Space ashore for 230 boats
- Dry berthing for RIBs and motoboats up to 8m LOA
- 70 ton boat hoist
- On-site yacht brokerage, chandlery, engineers, riggers, sail makers and even a spa!
- Popular racing and social programme through the Largs Sailing Club
- On-water fuel, gas and sewage pump out open 24/7
- Award winning Scotts restaurant and coffee shop
Troon Yacht Haven – At the southern end of Firth of Clyde, Troon is a popular destination for boaters starting their Scottish adventures. The large harbour walls protect the marina from all wind directions, with fuel and boatyard facilities on-hand.
- 400 well-protected pontoon berths
- Visitor berths for boats up to 40m LOA
- Award winning Scotts restaurant
- TransEurope marina
- 55 ton boat hoist
- On-water fuel open 24/7
- On-site chandlery, brokerage, engineers and sailmakers
- Troon Cruising Club with active racing and cruising schedule