Planning a trip

Route Options
There are several decisions about route. Do you go round west of Ireland and do you use a canal? There are 6 main routes:

West of Ireland:

  • UK and Ireland via Cape Wrath
  • England, Wales, Ireland and Lowland Scotland via the Forth and Clyde Canal
  • England, Wales, Ireland and part of Scotland via the Caledonian Canal

Excluding west of Ireland

  • England, Wales and Lowland Scotland via Forth and Clyde Canal
  • Britain via Cape Wrath
  • Britain via Caledonian Canal

There is also one other variation via the Crinan canal – but this makes little impact on distance or time so it is a minor variation possible on several of these routes. Britain via Caledonian Canal excludes Scotland Northern and a very beautiful part of Scotland. If you do this route it is worth before entering of leaving at the Fort William end of the canal exploring north of here otherwise you will miss out on some beautiful cruising grounds. I have called this route round Britain as it is a recognised route. For more info about definitions see the bottom of the page.


Most people aren’t in the fortunate positions of determining how long they have to complete the trip as it is dictated by work or finances. The longer you have, the more stops you can make and the more you can pick and choose the weather you wish to sail in. Here are the averages for the 64 circumnavigations. There is one route that I have yet to find someone who has completed it – that round Ireland (west coast) and through Caledonian Canal. If you have completed this route please contact the editor.

Route (number of boats) Average for yachts
Logged (nm) Passage length (nm) Cruise duration (days) Days at sea Number of places visited
UK and Ireland via Cape Wrath (5) 254150855148
England, Wales, Ireland & Lowland Scotland via the Forth & Clyde Canal (1) 1700271086462
England, Wales & Lowland Scotland via Forth & Clyde Canal (1) 156127925847
Britain via Cape Wrath (25) 220241885456
Britain via Caledonian Canal (18) 185640894743

Route (number of boats) Average for Motor Boats
Logged (nm) Passage length (nm) Cruise duration (days) Days at sea Number of places visited
Britain via Cape Wrath (6) 211359643642
Britain via Caledonian Canal (5) 159773302229

Most people leave in the first 2 weeks of May, this is because May, June, July and August have the lowest number of gales per month around the coast of UK and Ireland. In my research, the shortest time for a yacht was 6 weeks and the longest 2 years.

For more information about route planning please see chapter in UK and Ireland Circumnavigator’s Guide which will cover anticlockwise or clockwise, how many days at sea depending on number of crew, planning to do the cruise in stages or advice about crew change overs – all based on the experiences of others who have completed the trip.