The BBC’s Shipping Forecast is 100 years old – and many of the regions featured make for holidays that’ll blow you away!
Dogger, west or south-west four or five, occasional rain. Good. German Bight, northwesterly five or six, occasionally seven at first… ‘
These are the strange but familiar musings of the BBC Radio 4 announcers who, four times a day, but most romantically at around 40 minutes past midnight, read the Shipping Forecast issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
First broadcast on radio on what was then the BBC Home Service 100 years ago this week, the forecast is much more than a mere weather service for fisherman and cargo ships. It’s a journey around the far-flung, spume-flecked fringes of the British Isles and beyond; best heard when under the duvet or with a hot chocolate in your hand.
Yet a surprising amount of land is featured in the 31 named areas of the Shipping Forecast. You’ll be familiar with those listed below, but may be surprised at where you can stay without getting your feet wet.
Make for Malin
Malin Head (above) is the most northerly point in Ireland and here you’ll find vast cliff edges swarming with red-billed choughs and a 75m-deep chasm called Hell’s Hole
Dogger, west or south-west four or five, occasional rain. Good. German Bight, northwesterly five or six, occasionally seven at first… ’ These are the strange but familiar musings of the BBC Radio 4 announcers who, four times a day, but most romantically at around 40 minutes past midnight, read the Shipping Forecast issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Covering the northern coast of the island of Ireland and south-west Scotland, the coastline of the Malin shipping forecast region takes in the Inishowen peninsula in the Republic of Ireland, a treasure trove of beaches and mountain ranges hugging Lough Foyle.
The Redcastle Hotel, perched right on the shirt tails of the lough in County Donegal, is a cream-accented, breezy place with a golf course and leafy grounds. It’s just a 40-minute drive from here to Malin Head, the most northerly point in the country, where you’ll find a ruined Napoleonic signal tower called Banba’s Crown near vast cliff edges swarming with red-billed choughs and a 75m-deep chasm, pertinently called Hell’s Hole.
DETAILS: Doubles from £151 bed and breakfast, (redcastlehoteldonegal.com).
Take it slow in Fastnet
Pushing the boat out: Galley Head Lightkeeper’s House in County Cork, which lies in the Fastnet shipping region
The Fastnet shipping region spreads along the southern coastline of Ireland.
You can’t get closer to the roaring tide than by staying at Galley Head Lightkeeper’s House in County Cork: a whitewashed old-timer with a huge kitchen and views directly out over the cliffs.
If it all feels too isolated, then the village of Clonakilty is a 20-minute drive away.
It’s home to Michael Collins House, a museum to the Irish independence leader who was born nearby.
DETAILS: Two-night stay at Galley Head from £416 self-catering (irishlandmark.com).
A taste of German Bight
German Bight is ‘perhaps the most famous Shipping Forecast region of all’, says Rob, and ‘takes in a huge swathe of the western coastline of Danish Jutland’. Pictured: The Jutland town of Lokken
Perhaps the most famous Shipping Forecast region of all, German Bight takes in a huge swathe of the western coastline of Danish Jutland. It can be a blisteringly windy North Sea vantage point, but the wide sandy dunes and beaches are all but endless and there’s unusual accommodation near the town of Henne in the form of the Molle A Badehotel. It was built in the 1930s by Poul Henningsen, one of the most influential Scandi designers of all time.
DETAILS: Doubles at Henne Molle A Badehotel from £211, B&B (hennemoelleaa.dk).
The Phare de Kerbel lighthouse (above) is on the border of the Plymouth and Biscay forecast areas
Right on the border between the shipping forecast areas of Plymouth and Biscay, the Phare de Kerbel lighthouse is a two-hour drive from Nantes in France.
It offers the rare chance to stay at the actual summit of a lighthouse. Providing astounding views of the Brittany coastline at Riantec, the original lantern tower, 25m up, has been replaced by a new structure at the summit, which you can only reach via 126 steps.
DETAILS: £607 per night for two adults self-catering (pharedekerbel.com).
Causing a storm
The Torre de Hercules, a stone lighthouse tower facing out into the endless Atlantic in the Fitzroy shipping forecast area
There was much hubbub in 2002 when the Finisterre shipping region was renamed Fitzroy after Robert Fitzroy, founder of the storm warning system that was the 19th-century prototype of the Shipping Forecast.
Fitzroy covers the far north-west coastline of the Iberian peninsula, taking in the chic and breezy Noa Boutique Hotel in A Coruna, Spain. Huge waves from the Atlantic roll in here, which would have been watched by a young Pablo Picasso, who lived in the city as a child.
Today, there’s a walking trail you can follow in a self-guided tour. From the hotel it’s a 20-minute drive to the Torre de Hercules, a stone lighthouse tower facing out into the endless Atlantic.
DETAILS: Doubles from £101 B&B (noaboutiquehotel.com).
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