As an island with a rich maritime legacy, Britain has more than its fair share of fantastic boating spots. So, whether you’re just dipping a toe into the world of sailing or are a seasoned pro, with summer on the horizon we’ve put together our top 10 places to set sail on the UK’s waters. These waterside destinations all have their unique charms and are perfect for exploring on foot once you’re back on dry land. And we haven’t left you high and dry without a place to stay – we’ve selected some of the area’s best luxury inns, pubs and hotels to make sure you get a good night’s sleep after all that adventure on deck.
Pretty Georgian port town Lymington enjoys the best of both coast and countryside, perched as it is on the south coast overlooking the Solent and surrounded by the New Forest. The town’s maritime history means it plays host to not just one, but two marinas. Charter a yacht and ride the waves across to the Isle of Wight to see the famous Needles rocks.
Back in town, you needn’t stray too far from the water. Embrace the seaside vibes at newly refurbished The Mayflower, a beautiful coastal inn with harbour views and nods to the nautical everywhere – from locally-caught fish on the menu to maritime artefacts dotted throughout the interiors.
Nestled on the tip of Cornwall, Falmouth has long been influenced by its strong connection to the sea. With origins dating back to 1837, the Falmouth regatta brings a lively line up of racing to the bay in August. Watch the action from the shore and enjoy the festival atmosphere with street food, live music and entertainment.
The area is also known for its excellent family beaches, restaurants fit for the fussiest foodies (pop by Rick Stein’s Fish and Chips for the classic seaside dish) and art galleries filled with works inspired by Falmouth’s beauty and heritage. Stay at Greenbank Hotel on the historic waterfront – the hotel even has its own private quay should you wish to arrive by boat.
Not near the coast? Take to the lakes this Summer instead. Windermere is a prime destination for water sports and is home to several marinas and sailing centres. Follow in the footsteps of Arthur Ransome’s “Swallows and Amazons” (inspired by the UK’s Lake District) and try dinghy sailing. Feel the wind in your hair as you glide across the largest natural lake in England in one of these dainty boats.
After a long day on the water, head to local gem The Punchbowl for some relaxing countryside-chic. A glorious setting and excellent food are paired with nine charming bedrooms, with contemporary touches blending perfectly with traditional features.
Set sail from Weymouth with the stunning Jurassic coast as your backdrop. Playing host to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing events, these are some of the best sailing waters in the world. Tackle the bay’s thrills and challenges for an exhilarating adventure enough to test any sailor worth their salt. Back at the harbour, fishing boats bob merrily in front of the numerous waterside shops, bars and restaurants which spill out with seaside revellers in the summer. Rest your head at nearby family-friendly Moonfleet Manor Hotel, a gorgeous Georgian manor overlooking Chesil Beach.
A bustling coastal town, Pwllheli is the unofficial capital of the Llŷn Peninsula, and a ‘European Centre of Excellence’ for sailing. With stable winds, beautiful scenery and a milder climate than the rest of Wales, summer is the perfect time to visit this beautiful stretch of the UK coastline.
After a day touring the bay, continue getting back to nature with a drive through the spectacular Snowdonia National Park to reach the luxurious and remote Ffynnon Hotel. With only six bedrooms and impeccable attention to detail, this exclusive hideaway is just the tonic to a day out at sea.
Located in England’s smallest county, Rutland’s water reservoir is home to one of the biggest inland sailing clubs in the UK. Rutland Sailing School specialises in dinghy and catamaran sailing and runs classes for adults and children alike. You can also bring your own boat for a personal tuition session.
Uniquely positioned on a peninsula and overlooking the lake also lies Hambleton Hall. With its enviable location and Victorian grandeur, this is one of Britain’s finest country house hotels and offers all the trappings of luxury, including a Michelin star Chef at the helm of its restaurant
Experience sailing on the largest fresh-water lake in the UK. With plenty of inlets to investigate and islands to explore, Loch Lomond has something special to offer every kind of sailor. With all that space to cover, you’ll certainly work-up a good appetite.
Luckily gastronomic delights await at the Michelin-starred restaurant Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond. Part of the Cameron House hotel, you can enjoy a feast fit for a captain before retiring to your decadent bedroom decked-out in rich colours and muted tartans.
For the more relaxed sailor, opt instead for a glide along the extensive waterways of the Norfolk Broads. A different pace of life reigns in this part of the country, so just go with the flow. Hire a boat and enjoy trouble-free cruising, as all the waterways are lock-free. Along the meandering routes there are plenty of places to moor-up and explore picturesque villages, market towns and country pub gardens.
The Hoste hotel in fashionable Burnham Market is prettily poised on the village green, with a steady stream of Barbour-clad locals popping in for a drink and weekending Londoners enjoying overnight stays.
Dartmouth has been recognised as a key player on the regatta circuit since the 17th century, and the dramatic cliffs at the mouth of the River Dart offer spectacular vantage points to see the sailboats in action. The River Dart itself runs through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and by boat is truly the best way to explore this spectacular spot on the south coast.
Nestled along the river, the Dart Marina hotel offers a true taste of lux waterside living. Soak up the sparkling river views from your bedroom’s spacious balcony before heading to the spa for a leisurely swim or treatment.
Poole is home to the second largest natural harbour in the world, so naturally it enjoys a vibrant sailing scene. For a hands-on experience, head out to explore the harbour’s five islands or take it easy and let a trained skipper guide you around instead.
Just along the coast on Studland Bay you’ll find an idyllic outpost of the The Pig hotel group: The Pig – on the beach. Here you can (literally) pig out at the excellent restaurant focussing on locally-sourced produce, or indulge in an overnight stay in one of the 23 delightful bedrooms.
Originally published on A Luxury Travel Blog.