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Best boating destinations in the UK

Written by Fiona

December 16 2021

With thousands of miles of superb coastlines, the UK is a boaters’ dream destination waiting to be explored.

From the scenic canals in England to spectacular Scotland and the breathtaking vistas of Wales, the UK has it all.

Whether you’re an avid sailor ready to skipper your own boat or an adventure seeker looking for boat hire in the UK, you’ve come to the right place. We have picked some of the best boating destinations in the UK.

The Thames Ring

Leave the hustle and bustle of city life in London and head off on a canal boat to explore one of the world’s most historic waterways. The Thames Ring comprises the River Thames, the Oxford Canal, and the Grand Union Canal.

You may find yourself dining in a 500-year-old pub on the Thames River or a Michelin star restaurant in Oxford. 

Some of the sites not to be missed are the rolling Chiltern Hills and bustling village of Braunston on the Grand Union Canal. The Oxford Canal winds its way around charming villages.

The major attractions on The River Thames are Hampton Court and Royal Windsor which you get the best views of from the water.

The Thames Ring can be covered in two weeks at an energetic pace or three weeks to allow for better exploration.

Caledonian Canal.

The Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal

The Caledonian Canal is a beautiful and historic waterway in the Great Glen in the Highlands of Scotland and offers an incredible backdrop for a boat trip. Iconic Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal are easily accessible from Inverness.

Steeped in ancient myths and legends, this 60-mile route is sure to awaken the adventurer in you. Maybe you will spot the elusive Loch Ness monster on your way to the romantic ruins of Urquhart Castle! 

Cardigan Bay.

Cardigan Bay on the west coast of Wales

Nature enthusiasts can gear up for awesome sites along this bay. With over 60 miles of coastline, Cardigan Bay boasts one of the largest dolphin populations in Europe. You may also spot a humpback whale or leatherback turtle.

The launch port of New Quay is the ideal spot to kick off the exploration of the Ceredigion marine heritage coast. Be careful though, because once the boating bug catches you, you’ll be looking to buy your own boat if you don’t already own one. You can do a full-day trip out or stop along the way as you sail through New Quay.

Jurassic Coast.

Jurassic Coast of England

Named as the only natural World Heritage site in England, the Jurassic coast runs for 96 miles from Exmouth to Dorset.  Here you will discover 185 million years of geological history and fossilised remains of the many different creatures that lived here, all conserved in the rocks. You will also pass by one of Dorset’s greatest landmarks, the limestone stacks of Old Harry Rocks. The Jurassic coast can be cruised in a two-hour boat trip from Poole Quay.


Falmouth, Cornwall

With crystal clear waters, this is one of the best diving spots to sail to. Situated along the calmer south coast of Cornwall, you can easily discover one of its many secluded beaches.

Without much effort, you will have access to an array of top-class eateries right from the waterside. There’s plenty to do in Falmouth, fishing being on top of the list.  There are many short trips to sail out of Falmouth for day visitors.

Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond, Scotland

If stunning scenery is what you’re after then this is the place to visit. Loch Lomond is a freshwater loch in the southern Highlands and it’s part of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

There are more than 30 islands on the loch. You can sail by some of these and others you are able to land at. There is even an island inhabited by wallabies.

Being one of Scotland’s prime boating and watersports destinations, Loch Lomond has plenty to offer for entertainment. Adventure seekers can enjoy kayaking, water skiing, canoeing and paddleboarding to name a few.

Visitors can also sail out on boat tours leaving from many points along the loch.

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