Scotland's Year of Coasts and Waters

Date published: 16 December 2019

2020 is almost upon us. It’s time to look forward – to plan some adventures on the deep, dark waters of Scotland’s incredible lochs, around its breathtaking coasts, and along its magical canals in the Year of Coasts and Waters!

Looking for some inspiration for why you #MustSeaScotland in 2020? We’ve picked out a few of the incredible experiences that can only be found on Scotland’s spectacular waters and stunning shores.

Create your own unforgettable moments as you sail Scotland this year and make sure you share them with us on social media by tagging them with #MustSeaScotland or uploading them to our gallery!

Step beyond the shortbread tins at Eilean Donan Castle

Set sail for the Kyle of Lochalsh and pay a visit to Eilean Donan Castle – one of the most recognised structures in Scotland and a recurring feature on shortbread tins and calendars the world over. It’s easy to see why – towering against the landscape overlooking the Isle of Skye at the point where three great sea-lochs meet and surrounded by the leafy mountains of Kintail, Eilean Donan’s setting is unforgettable.

Take a turn on The Falkirk Wheel

Elegant, audacious, and utterly enchanting – The Falkirk Wheel is a soaring symbol of the regeneration of Scotland’s historic canal network and a marvel of modern engineering. Linking the Forth & Clyde Canal to the Union some 35 metres above, the world’s only rotating boat lift replaced the 11 locks that once carried countless vessels between the two waterways and must be seen to be believed. Nowhere else on the planet can you sail through the sky, held up in the heavens by a combination of graceful engineering and the same power as it would take to boil eight kettles!


Explore the wonders of Jura

#LegendarySailing doesn’t get much more mythical than the utterly incomparable Jura. A land of soaring mountains and rugged coasts, Jura is wild, untamed and utterly unforgettable. Sample a dram in the island’s titular distillery, see its famous herds of red deer (which outnumber its human inhabitants by 25 to 1!), or take to the water and skirt the eye of the Corryvreckan Whirlpool – one of largest permanent whirlpools on earth.

Paps of Jura (c) Moonshadow Yacht Charter Ltd

Drain a dram at Skye’s Talisker Distillery

Sample a dram (or three) on a tour of Talisker Distillery – home of the only single malt whisky produced on Skye. Set on the shores of Loch Harport with dramatic views of the Cuillins, a tour of the distillery is the perfect chance to see behind the stills of this world-renowned whisky.


Share the sea with basking sharks

Set sail for the West Coast between May and September and you might just find yourself sharing its waters with the second biggest fish on the planet – the mighty basking shark. Don’t worry - these gentle giants only feed on plankton – but seeing them glide through the water, mouths agape, is a humbling, epic experience. 

Walk the halls of history at Urquhart Castle

Explore the rugged beauty and history of the Highlands in iconic Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness. Home to over 1,000 years of history, the castle is where St Columba is said to have worked miracles in the 6th century, where acts of chivalry and defiance provided inspiration during the Wars of Independence, and where the clan MacDonald, Lords of the Isles, struggled with the Crown for power. Sailing in its shadow on deep, dark waters of Loch Ness is something every sailor should experience!


Grab a dolphin escort

Scotland is home to some incredible wildlife, from comical puffins to majestic red deer, but few experiences make your heart stir in quite the same way as seeing a pod of dolphins off your bow. Make your way to the Moray Firth and a few of the area’s residency of more than 130 bottlenose dolphins might just pop along to say hello.

(c) Sue Middleton

Sink your toes into the Caribbean sands of Vatersay

The first time you catch a glimpse of the Isle of Vatersay’s East Beach and you might think you’ve strayed far, far off course and ended up in the Seychelles. Sweeping white sands, sparkling aquamarine waters and rolling hills in the distance – the bay is one of Scotland’s most beautiful beaches and well worth the trip to the southernmost tip of the Outer Hebrides.


Explore the mythic waters of Loch Coruisk

A place of deep, dark water and soaring summits, Loch Coruisk is without doubt one of Scotland’s wild places. Circled by Skye’s iconic Black Cuillin mountains and only accessible via a silver slip of a river, standing on the banks of the ‘Cauldron of Waters’ is an epic experience. As Sir Walter Scott put it after a visit to Coruisk in 1814, 'Rarely human eye has known a scene so stern as that dread lake.’ Epic, eerie, and utterly unforgettable.


Catch a glimpse of The Kelpies

Clad in almost 1000 shimmering steel panels, standing the same height as six and a half double decker buses, and weighing more than 600 tonnes, The Kelpies are the world’s largest equine sculptures. Designed by Scottish sculptor Andy Scott, The Kelpies form the gateway to the historic Forth & Clyde Canal in Grangemouth near Falkirk and serve as monumental tributes to the horse-powered heritage that was vital to the early industries of central Scotland. Visit at night to see the sculptures’ light show – it’ll take your breath away!

The Kelpies (c) Scottish Canals

Grab your Sail Scotland Brochure and start planning your #YCW2020 adventure now!