Did you know that around 4,400 islands make up the British Isles, although only around 210 are inhabited. UK ferry journeys can offer a fresh perspective on the coastline. To add a voyage to your overland journey, find inspiration with this collection of six of the country’s most unique crossings.
Scrabster to Stromness, Orkney
The wonderfully named Scrabster, on Scotland’s North coast, is a jumping off point for a short-ish (90 minute) hop to the Orkney archipelago. It takes passengers past the Old Man of Hoy, a famed 137m high sea stack off the coast. The archaeological wonders on Stromness (below) are something else.
Glenelg to Kylerhea, Skye
The original crossing point between Skye (pictured below) and the mainland, a small ferry crosses this narrow channel in season. It’s an unusual turntable design, so the ferry pulls up alongside the slipway and the crew turn the deck to embark cars and passengers. Sure, you can drive over the bridge to get to Skye these days, but if you do you’ll miss the sea eagles, otters and seals that frequent the waters. Grab a coffee at the Shore Station café to stop and enjoy the view.
Kingswear to Dartmouth
Crossing the water saves drivers a lengthy detour round the river Dart and gives a lovely view of the picturesque harbour town, including the castle and Royal Naval College; keep eyes peeled for helicopters as well as wildlife. Two boats make the crossing, straightforwardly named Lower Ferry or Higher Ferry.
Lymington to Yarmouth, Isle of Wight
The shortest route across the Solent, this 40-minute journey spirits you from the New Forest to the tranquil Isle of Wight, passing Hurst Castle on the way. On the other side of the water you’ll see its counterpart, Yarmouth Castle, which was built by Henry VIII as a gun platform to defend the waterway.
Feock to Philleigh, Cornwall
Another time and mile saver, this crossing saves drivers the 27-mile alternative route round the Truro River. The King Harry Ferry (pictured below) has been transporting passengers to the Roseland peninsula since 1888, and today’s incarnation offers calming views through the glass side, and a view onto the chains guiding the boat across the water. Find out more about the route at Fal River Ferries.
Penzance to St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly
Affectionately known as the Vomit Comet, thanks to the rough ride it can offer in high seas, the Scillonian III takes passengers on a nearly three-hour journey to the UK’s southernmost islands. Hope that the weather is fine so that you can enjoy the beautiful views of Cornwall’s coast as it glides past. Explore timetables for your next adventure with Isles of Scilly Travel.
Inspired to take a road trip, boat trip or best-of-both-worlds trip? When travelling across the UK to actual ports or simply metaphorical ports of call, don’t forget to check that The Extra Mile is in your glovebox (with the Venue Finder on home-screen speed-dial) to ensure your journey eats are as memorable as the trip itself. Get your copy here.