Sail Scotland After Dark
Date published: 29 October 2020
Whether you’re treading its white sandy beaches, marvelling at its majestic glens, or sailing between its unique islands, Scotland has no shortage of incredible experiences to offer.
But the magic doesn’t stop when the sun sets. From mooring up in some hauntingly beautiful wilderness anchorages; to draining a dram (or two) in some of the nation’s most famous distilleries; and sampling fantastic food and drink that’ll make your tastebuds dance, we’ve picked out just a few of the after-dark adventures that await you. Sailing Scotland is a round-the-clock experience!
Grab your free Sail Scotland brochure, plan your own unforgettable adventure sailing Scotland and make sure you share them with us on social media by tagging them with #MustSeaScotland or uploading them to our gallery - but please be sure to follow all guidance and #RespectTheDestination.
Check the current Covid-19 restrictions in Scotland and continue to plan and book ahead when considering your trip. You can search VisitScotland's website for businesses that are open and Good to Go, where they have a Covid-19 risk assessment.
Spend a night at Loch Scavaig
Scotland is home to some spectacular wilderness anchorages – but few compare to Skye’s Loch Scavaig for sheer majesty. A rugged, rural anchorage at the base of the Cuillin mountain range, it’s one of the most spectacular you’ll ever have the pleasure to visit. A night spent beneath the stars, awakening at dawn to see the sun flashing over the Black Cuillin in all its jaw-dropping glory, is something you’ll never forget.
Explore some of Scotland’s haunted places
With the nights drawing in, it’s the perfect time to explore some of Scotland’s darker tales – if you’re brave enough. From the spectral sailors of Sandwood Bay to the spiteful spirits said to rule the abandoned isle of Eynhallow, we’ve no shortage of spine-tingling stories of medieval massacres, sinister spectres, and unexplained occurrences.
Feeling brave? Delve into the spookier side of sailing Scotland with our guide to some of Scotland’s most haunted places!
Eilean Donan Castle (c) Pete Stevens
Drain a dram at Scotland’s greenest distillery
Wild, remote and unspoiled, Ardnamurchan is a land of hauntingly beautiful moors, towering forests, white sand beaches – and Scotland’s most westerly and greenest distillery. Since opening its doors in 2014, Ardnamurchan Distillery has prided itself on the eco-friendliness of its signature single malt, generating its own hydro-electric power and using the whisky by-products to feed the livestock living on the surrounding peninsula. Plan some epic sailing and drink your fill of Ardnamurchan - both the distillery and the peninsula!
See the sun slink low over Castle Stalker
Scotland is home to some incredible castles and, at first glance, Castle Stalker – named from the Gaelic ‘Stalcaire’ meaning hunter or falconer – is nothing compared to Edinburgh or Eilean Donan. But when the sun begins to slink down over the horizon, this rugged fort in the mouth of Loch Laich comes alive. Castle Stalker is home to some of the most spectacular sunsets to be found it Scotland – seeing its stout silhouette set against a burning sky will stay with you for a lifetime.
(c) John Thow
Spend the night watching the ‘Mirrie Dancers’
Grab your cosiest blanket, stock up on coffee (or something a wee bit stronger) and settle in for the performance of a lifetime as the ‘Mirrie Dancers’ birl across the heavens. The Northern Lights have entranced mankind for millennia and there are few places better to see this breathtaking festival of shine and shadow than Scotland. Set sail for Shetland, Orkney and Caithness for the best chance to see the Aurora Borealis.
See the Forth Bridge shine
Firth of Forth
Spanning the 2.5 kilometres between the coasts of Edinburgh and Fife, the Forth Bridge is one of the most dramatic man-made structures in Scotland. The iconic red steel bridge is one of the nation’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and has been featured in a range of TV programmes, advertising and films - including the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock classic The 39 Steps (as well as its remakes). It’s spectacular during the day but seeing the three towers of the cantilever bridge, which soar more than 100 metres into the sky, shining through the shadows is an utterly cinematic experience!
Scotland’s incredible landscapes and coasts are no stranger to the silver screen. Find out more in our #SailHollywood guide!
Canter up to The Kelpies
Forth & Clyde Canal
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!
Step beyond the shortbread tins at Eilean Donan Castle
Kyle of Lochalsh
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. Subtly but beautifully-lit, seeing the castle in the mid-night gloom is nothing short of magical.
Channel your inner Viking at Up Helly Aa
Flaming torches, winged helmets and thundering drums – you’ve never been to a party like Up Helly Aa, the largest Viking fire festival in Europe. Set sail for the stunning Shetlands and find a celebration that’ll burn itself forever in your memory.
Capture the Capital
Edinburgh is a city of sweeping elegance, unique character, and world-class visitor attractions. It’s one of the most intoxicating, vibrant, and beautiful cities on the planet – a place where you can climb an extinct volcano; glimpse (and sample) the world’s largest collection of whisky; dance the night away in one of its many bars and clubs; or simply sit back, relax and watch the world pass by from one of its many excellent pubs and cafes. Whatever you’re looking for, Edinburgh never disappoints.
There’s no better feeling after a day of sailing than watching the sun slink beneath the horizon with a hearty meal in your belly and a dram in your hand. From scoffing scallops on the harbour at Mallaig to sampling some of the famous Plockton Prawns at Loch Carron, good food is never far away when you sail Scotland.
Hungry? We’ve picked out just a few of Scotland’s many incredible restaurants to whet your appetite. Grab our guide here and ready your tastebuds!
Seafood Salad (c) Cafe Fish, Tobermory
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