The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Sailing The West Coast Of Scotland, Part 1

A hardy perennial in sailing magazines has always been some well-known individual describing their ‘favourite secret anchorage’. I’ve never fully understood the rationale for taking part in such an exercise.  After all, if it’s no longer a secret, won’t that make it as busy as any other place as a result? As someone once wisely remarked, ‘the moment somewhere gets called paradise, that’s the end of it!’

So understanding those risks, I thought I’d offer a favourite region, for any of you looking for somewhere different to cruise – the west coast and Western Isles of Scotland.

It’s no secret that this wild area suffers from its fair share of bad weather, and can be wet and windy for weeks on end, even in summer. Or that when the weather settles down, visits ashore can be rendered a form of torture due to the clouds of midges that duly appear. That some local people wear all in one hoods against these vicious little brutes is no surprise.

Strong tides, overfalls, rocks and squalls are all there in abundance, too, to keep life interesting as you make your way around.

Wait, there’s more

But, if you’re still interested, this is a place that has so much to offer, notably the places, the people and the wildlife. And if your sailing dreams lean towards high latitudes, then this whole area has everything you need as a training ground – it really is Attainable Adventure.

But no secret anchorages – you’ll have to find your own. Fortunately there are more than enough to go around.

Further Reading

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Jim Patek (S/V Let's Go!)


Great photos. Now exactly where is that calm anchorage with the midnight sun?

Colin Speedie


I’d tell you, but Louise says she’d kill me!

Best wishes


tom mcguffy

My favorite cruising grounds and don’t forget Fair Isle the best of all.

Colin Speedie

Thanks, Tom, we’ve never made it to Fair Isle, but we’ll definitely make the effort one day soon.

Kind regards


John Harries

It really is a wonderful part of the world. We too have missed Fair Isle, but have really enjoyed Orkney and Shetland, some of the best cruising grounds with some of the nicest and most friendly people around.