The United Kingdom has a long coastline and strong maritime tradition. The best time of year for yacht chartering in the UK is from May to September.
The United Kingdom consists of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. An island kingdom, the UK boasts a lot of coastline for its size and has a long sea tradition. It offers a wide variety of yacht charter options, from plush corporate day charters in the Solent to rugged offshore adventures in Scotland and Ireland. Other popular areas are the Isles of Scilly, the West Country (Cornwall, Devon and Dorset), East Anglia (Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex), the Channel Islands, the west coast of Scotland and the remote Orkney Islands northeast of Scotland.
The Solent (between the south coast of England and the Isle of Wight) is justly famous for its serious racing, dating back to the birth of the America's Cup in 1851. Charters of all types are available out of bases in Portsmouth, Gosport, Southampton, the Hamble river and Cowes on the Isle of Wight, including packages for specific events like the world-famous Cowes Week. The south coast also offers access to France across the English Channel.
The Isles of Scilly are located off the Cornish Coast and offer tranquility, stunning scenery, rare birds, beautiful beaches, and magnificent sunsets.
The Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Herm, Alderney and Sark) have a superb climate and offer many yacht charter opportunities. They can also be easily reached from the south coast of England.
Scotland offers some of the best cruising ground in the world. Distances between ports and anchorages are short, and plenty of shelter is available. The River Clyde offers modern marinas, while outlying islands provide a more remote experience. The islands of the inner and outer Hebrides offer sheltered waters and many castles and ruins to explore. Though marinas are rare, many harbours offer moorings. Read Chris Caswell's account of cruising in the famous Loch Ness.
Yacht charter in Ireland is for more experienced sailors, as some of the open sea passages can be challenging. Cork and the Dingle Peninsula have many protected harbours and picturesque anchorages. The wilder West coast has many uninhabited islands.
Along the east coast of England you will find castles, brilliant scenery, and friendly people all the way from the Thames Estuary to Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth. The Thames itself offers interesting yacht charter options for exploring London and the upper reaches of the river for a short break.
The United Kingdom also has a vast network of inland waterways. These canals and rivers interlink to provide some stunning cruising among beautiful countryside and historic towns and villages.
Whether you are looking for a day charter, a weekend charter or a week or more the Solent has plenty to offer with dozens of harbours and anchorages to choose from. Many choose to head for Cowes on the Isle of Wight, the “home of yachting” and the famous Cowes Week held every summer which attracts thousands of yachtsmen from around the globe. East Cowes gives easy access to Osborne House, home of Queen Victoria and open to the public throughout the year. Once you have explored the house yourself you can anchor up in Osborne bay for a spot of lunch at the bottom of her garden! Carrying on past Cowes up the Medina River your will find the Folly Inn, a popular haunt for those arriving by boat.
At the eastern end of the Solent, Portsmouth harbour has been the home of the British Navy since Tudor times. The historic dockyard is home to the famous navel ships HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and The Mary Rose and will fascinate any visitor with salt in their veins.
Centrally positioned in the Solent, the River Hamble is one of the world’s premier yachting destinations with world class marinas, famous yacht clubs and every conceivable facility for the visiting yachtsman.
Heading west, the Beaulieu River is a picturesque anchorage that delivers you in to the heart of the New Forest. Pick up a visitor’s mooring or go to the marina at Bucklers Hard, where the “wooden walls” of Nelson’s Navy were built and the village has been preserved much as it was in those times.
On the northern shore of the Isle of Wight, Newtown Creek is a haven of peace and tranquillity. A sheltered nature reserve and wildlife sanctuary managed by the National Trust you can pick up a mooring or anchor here and relax on board or take the dinghy ashore and walk along the creek to Shalfleet and the famous New Inn.
At the western entrance to the Solent, the harbours of Lymington, (on the mainland) and Yarmouth (on the Isle of Wight) are both charming overnight stops with an abundance of character and history and a good selection of pubs and restaurants.
Throughout the Solent, companies offer RYA training courses on both power boats and sailing yachts to hone your skills, boost your confidence and increase your experience.
Wherever you go in the Solent you will always be near a safe anchorage, a cosy pub and a warm welcome.