Sailing articles about tropical destinations are a dime a dozen, but rarely are they about sailing around England. So we’ve pulled together 7 of the best places to sail in Southern UK.
There is great sailing to be had all over the world, not only in sunny skies and warm seas. You might need to wear warmer gear but a sailor can have an excellent time anywhere that the wind blows over water.
England’s complex coastline offers a multitude of sailing conditions. From the thousands of protected bays and harbors to the swell-exposed coasts, adventure awaits.
Renowned for its history of sea-borne trade and exploration, England has a long-standing connection to the sea. After all, it was this great expanse of water that allowed for the worldwide expansion of the British Empire.
Let’s have a look at some of the best sailing around England. This list of the 7 best places to sail in Southern UK is as much about what you’ll find off the water as on it.
In no particular order, starting from near London we head south and then west along the southern coast of England.
This is one of England’s most famous waterways. Its history extends back over 2000 years to times of Roman occupation. This tidal river system weaves and turns through some of England’s most picturesque towns and villages.
Here, many paddle crafts race through glassy channels. A hoard of boating clubs and marinas dot the river’s edge. Don’t expect any solitude sailing here but it is a must-visit on if you want to sail in Southern England.
This cosmopolitan seaside town acts as the port for the ferry service to Belgium. Located in the southeastern region of England, Ramsgate has one the largest marinas in the south of Britain.
The area has some pleasant sandy beaches that are a welcomed weekend escape for nearby Londoners. When sailing around England this is a great spot if you like a bit of art and great food but want to avoid a big city.
The city of Brighton and Hove is a one-hour train ride south from the bustle of London. This town may be the most lively and bohemian in all of England. Located on the coast, there is tons of opportunity for a sailing much of which is from Brighton Marina.
The sailing can be intense at times. During stormy weather and solid Atlantic Ocean groundswells, this area can be alive. Though on a calm summer day, one can expect smooth sailing.
There are over 400 eating establishments on shore and a wealth of trendy art shops and shopping options. There is rumoured to be a pub for every day of the year in Brighton and the clubs are open all night, year round.
If you’d rather something a little more relaxed, take the better half for a romantic sunset cruise. The pier, packed beach and South Downs in the distance and near by Seven Sisters make Brighton one of the best places to sail in southern UK.
This area of the southern coast of England is the home of the nation’s sailing scene. Ocean racing and other major events have focussed their efforts here. The berths are among the most sought after in the nation and for good reason.
A great bragging right of this harbor is its proximity to the Isle of Wight. After a short sail, you’re free to explore the beautiful island that in many ways is set 50 years in the past.
To miss the town’s maritime heritage offerings would be a mistake. Be sure to visit the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the Naval Museum, HMS Victory and the other museums on offer. Walk the cobblestone streets and buy fresh fish at the Camber Dock.
Much of the waterfront has been renovated over in recent years. Spinnaker Tower now overlooks the waterfront and there is a modern shopping centre plus a whole host of bars and restaurants.
The world’s last remaining commercial hovercraft runs from Portsmouth many times a day to the Isle of Wight. It might be a form of transport that has been relegated to the past, but it is still exciting to watch take off!
Nearby Southampton is a city of historical significance. Dating back to the Roman and Saxon period the town walls rate amongst the best preserved in all of England.
Southampton was the departure port of the Titanic and many other famous ships. Now you can set off to explore the coast in either direction. Again the Isle of Wight is very close for plenty of great sailing.
For a change from your seafaring ways, enjoy a play in one of Southampton’s superb theatres. If sport is more your thing international cricket is played at the Rose Bowl and premier league football at St Mary’s.
We considered choosing a destination within Cornwall but to be honest the coast is so beautiful we decided to include it all! The southwest of England is also an important maritime area for major international open-ocean crossings.
Often, this is the start or end point for trans-Atlantic voyages. The area has a great variety of open-ocean, protected harbors and river systems. During high seas, the swell-exposed areas of Cornwall are hectic sailing around England.
Strong lows and post-hurricane systems stir the seas around Cornwall. At these times only the most experienced sailors should assume the challenge.
If you have time, navigate your vessel down through the Helford River to visit exceptional gardens, fabulous beaches and pastoral countryside. If you end up here during August, try to partake in the Falmouth Regatta Week.
Last on our list is the maritime city of Bristol. The city’s significance as a trading port goes back to Anglo-Saxon times. Visit Brunel’s SS Great Britain to experience a floating maritime museum.
Sail up the Severn Estuary and hang a right at Avonmouth to head up the Avon River. Sailing up Avon Gorge and beneath the famous Clifton suspension bridge is quite an experience and one of the best places to sail in Southern UK.
From Samuel Plimsoll – who devised the Plimsoll line improving safety at sea – to Blackbeard the pirate there are plenty of seafaring characters associated with Bristol. On the darker side Bristol was the UK’s leading slave port.
As a city Bristol is a lot of fun. Much of the old dock area has been renovated with bars, restaurants and swanky flats. Clifton is a nice area to visit with great pubs and restaurants with an independent vibe.
Great sailing holidays are what you make of them. I’ve come to learn that sailing is about the journey itself, rather than the destination. Get yourself a solid crew of friends and plan out an epic adventure sailing around England.
You’ll find a charm and historical connection that not even the prettiest tropical island can offer. Along the way, take some time to encounter the local people in small towns and fishermen, who have labored these shores for many decades.
In these experiences, you will find great value and a sailing adventure that you will never forget.
Want to try sailing around England? Then visit one of the 7 best places to sail in Southern UK. Even better visit them all! But check out our sailing discounts first as you could save a fortune.