Explore remote areas of our coastline, uncover our rich maritime heritage and enjoy breathtaking scenery with our pick of the best things to see and do beside the sea
1. Mount Bay
The Benedictine priory of St Michael’s Mount rises dramatically from the Cornish Sea and is crowned by a medieval church and castle. Currently in the care of the National Trust, the Mount’s castle and gardens are open to the public during weekdays from April to October, and most weekends. This, the most famous of Cornwall’s landmarks, has a fascinating history, is steeped in both legend and folklore, and can be approached via a causeway at low tide, or by boats, which land in the harbour. What’s more, the terraced gardens offer breathtaking views across the bay to Penzance, Newlyn, Land’s End and the Lizard Peninsula.
Visit the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith and see the State Apartments, the Crew Quarters and the gleaming Engine Room. This magnificent vessel was home to Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family for over 40 years, sailing over 1,000,000 miles around the world. Now enjoying her retirement in beautiful Edinburgh, visitors can follow in the footsteps of royalty to discover the heart and soul of this most unique of royal residences.
3. Fort William
The Jacobite is an 84-mile train journey past Britain’s highest mountain, deepest loch, shortest river and most westerly station en-route to Mallaig. The route is also the same shown in the Harry Potter films. The company running the Jacobite service provided Warner Brothers with the train used as the Hogwarts Express in all of the movies and allowed them use of the Jacobite’s route for filming.
The National Maritime Museum Cornwall has 15 galleries beautifully illustrating the past, present and future of this island nation. Learn of the packets ships that set sail in Falmouth to serve the growing empire from 1668 until 1851, and the more recent adventures of the likes of Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo around the world, and Ellen MacArthur who broke the solo round the world sailing record having left from, and returned to the museum.
Inveraray Castle on the shores of Loch Fyne – Scotland’s longest sea loch – is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell. In 1975, a devastating fire struck Inveraray and for some time the Duke and his family lived in the castle basement while restorations requiring a worldwide fundraising drive were carried out. However, it seems that the castle is home to some more spooky residents too. It is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a harpist who was hanged in 1644 for peeping at the lady of the house. The sound of a mysterious harp playing has been reported by visitors to the castle.
This bustling little seaside town is also a historic Cornish port. It inspired Daphne du Maurier, the celebrated author of Rebecca and The Birds, as well as other writers such as Sir Arthur Quiller Couch, Kenneth Grahame and Leo Walmsley.
The Bede Museum in Jarrow is an exploration of the life and work of the Venerable Bede who is credited with inventing the use of ‘AD’ in dating. The main museum building features the ‘Age of Bede’ exhibit, including excavated artifacts from the historic monastery such as stained glass, imported pottery, coins and stone carvings, and exhibits about Anglo-Saxon culture, Bede’s life and works, the life of a monk, and the medieval Kingdom of Northumbria.
The smallest consecrated church in the world was built by Brother Déodat in 1914. Beautifully decorated with seashells, pebbles and colourful pieces of broken china, The Little Chapel is a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France.
Enjoy a traditional ‘ceilidh’ in the Mishnish pub – and a ‘dram’ of single malt from the local 1798 distillery. If you’re lucky enough to grab yourself a window seat, be sure to look out for the rare and unusual Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Otter, Corncrake and an abundance of other birds and mammals, as Tobermory has become one of the premier destinations for wildlife watching in the United Kingdom.
Talisker, the only distillery on Skye, is set on the shores of Loch Harport with dramatic views of the Cuillin Hills. The distillery was founded in 1830 by Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, and built in 1831 at Carbost after a number of false starts on other sites when they acquired the lease of Talisker House from the MacLeod of MacLeod. Talisker was thought to be the favourite whisky of writer, Robert Louis Stevenson. In his poem. “The Scotsman’s Return From Abroad”, Stevenson mentioned “The king o’ drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Islay, or Glenlivet.”