The history and natural beauty make this secluded Scottish anchorage in the Out Skerries an idyllic place to drop the hook, says Jonty Pearce
The Out Skerries lie to the east of the main Shetland archipelago; an isolated cluster of rocks with only two inhabited islands.
The name stems from the Norse for the Eastern Isles, and indeed, with Norway just 200 miles away, Bergen is closer than Inverness.
Think north; and then go north again, and veer a bit east, and you’ll find this sparsely inhabited, 2 square mile of rock and pasture. So why visit?
Apart from the obvious and trite ‘because it’s there’, Skerries’ dramatic scenery is steeped in history, offers sightings of rare plants and birds, and is a sea life paradise.
For skippers, Skerries proffers a secure haven and several anchorages.
It is both a convenient stopover for those heading north from Lerwick to round Muckle Flugga, as well as being a destination in its own right.
Although the island has a population of just 37, it boasts a ferry service, two shops, post office, fuel and shower facilities at the pier, a kirk, Scotland’s smallest cinema, and a thriving community hall.
Lying on the northern side of Northeast Mouth, across from the towering Bound Skerry lighthouse, the marked anchorage at Bruray’s Long Ayre beach and bay is just northwest of the islet rock of Outer Croagle.
The main islands forming Skerries are split by the channel and harbour between South Mouth and Northeast Mouth; while the South Mouth entrance involves several transits and careful pilotage through a well-marked but rock-strewn channel – only a brave or foolhardy mariner would attempt it were conditions other than mild to moderate northerly winds combined with a minimal swell.
Dag Pike finds a quiet bay on the Scottish island of Great Cumbrae in which to drop the pick
For those seeking a remote spot, Achnamara on Scotland’s west coast tops the bill, says Dag Pike
Don’t even consider approaching South Mouth in any breeze from the southerly sector. Gladly, Northeast Mouth is a different kettle of channel and, apart from during strong northerlies or northeasterlies, should pose no challenges.
Access into the Long Ayre anchorage itself is simple; once in Northeast Mouth the bay can be entered by leaving Outer Croagle to port or starboard.
Watch the depth and tuck in as far as you can.
There’s not an excess of space, but we squeezed a pair of yachts in with ease.
The holding is good, though deployment of a tripping line is advised in view of the marine farm symbol marked on some charts; there is no sign of it now, but who knows what lies on the seabed. The shelter is fair, except in a northerly or northeasterly.
Any swell coming from the northeast makes for an uncomfortable night.
There are no facilities, but a short walk brings you to the pier and the harbourmaster’s shop; he can sort out fuel, water and supplies. Even if you do nothing else, take a wander up to the community hall; the locals are so welcoming, and visitors are treasured.
This remote island community is a gem.