The Scottish coastline offers some of the most scenic views in the world, and there are a number of ways to see it - including sailing!
There are many sailing journeys available throughout the country, and here are three of the best.
1 - The Viking Trail
The name says it all. There are numerous options to explore some of Scotland’s historic Viking locations. The trail will take you through the Caledonian Canal and then cruise to the north of the country, including Orkney and Shetland.
There is a huge amount of wildlife to see on the way, as well as visiting historical sites. And if you like a wee dram, then you'll find a number of whisky distilleries on the trail.
The sailing goes through Inverness, and heads north to Caithness via the Moray Firth, the home of a rare breed of bottle nose dolphins. After the famous Pentland Firth there is a chance to explore the amazing coastlines of Orkney and Shetland.
Plan you passage to the Viking Trail with help from Sail Scotland
2 - St Kilda
Lying some 40 miles to the west of the Outer Hebrides, St Kilda and its World Heritage Site is, for many sailors, the ultimate aim.
They may be approached through the Sound of Harris (between South Harris and North Uist), the Sound of Barra (between Barra and South Uist) or the Sounds of Sandray, Mingulay or Pabbay (all to the south of Barra).
The southern three sounds offer the most straightforward route but the longest offshore passage to St Kilda, whilst the northern duo offer a more complex, but well-marked, route followed by a shorter passage, with the option to call in at the Monarch Isles en route.
Settled weather is needed to venture beyond the shelter of the Outer Hebrides but, as with the whole of this area, the potential rewards are well worth the effort - the highest cliffs in Britain, truly spectacular birdlife and the museum on the main island of Hirta.
The island is a Dual World Heritage Site, and is managed by the National Trust for Scotland, SNH and the Ministry of Defence, all of which have a presence on Hirta during the summer months.
3 - The Clyde
The Firth of Clyde is one of the largest areas of sheltered deep water in the British Isles, and as a result has been a major centre for recreational boating for well over a century.
But the Clyde is more than just a convenient playground: it is also the perfect starting point for cruises along the scenic west coast of Scotland
From Troon, one of the major marinas on the Clyde, the popular route is north west, through the beautiful Kyles of Bute to the Crinan Canal, and then to the Argyll Coast and Islands, Skye, and the Outer Hebrides. Heading south west past Arran and round the Mull of Kintyre, perhaps calling at Sanda or Campbeltown, is a passage best undertaken in good weather. It leads to the southern Isles of Gigha, Islay and Jura, or alternatively across the North Channel to Rathlin Island, Ballycastle and Glenarm, all just a few miles away, all of which serve as a useful point from which to depart for either the west coast of Scotland or the northern coast of Ireland where facilities are also improving. There are many less demanding passages within the Firth of Clyde. Indeed, one could sail every day for a week and not run out of new lochs and anchorages to explore.
One of the most popular destination harbours is Tarbert - a picturesque village where the remains of Tarbert Castle, which is illuminated at night, overlook the village.
For more information on these destinations, or other sailing regions around Scotland, visit the Sail Scotland website
The Viking Trail
Credit - Sail Scotland
Credit Classic Sailing
Alistair Munro, published on the Scotsman, Scotland's National Newspaper. View the original
Sail Scotland - www.sailscotland.co.uk