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Celebrating Irene’s Old Trading Route – Newlyn to Bristol

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2 Berth Ensuite Cabin Per person



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Embark Disembark Vessel DurationVoyage No
Sun 04-07-2021, 17:00Newlyn, Cornwall Sun 11-07-2021, 14:00Bristol, UK Irene 7 NightsIR040721

Between 1907 and 1960, the sail from Newlyn to Bristol was a regular run for the West Country Trading Ketches. In this voyage, we follow the path well trodden by Irene as we make our way round Lands End and up the Bristol Channel . Irene was built in Bridgewater a small port in Somerset on the Bristol Channel. If suitable she will stop off at some of her previous trading ports, all wind and tide dependent.

  • Voyage
  • Vessel

Ideal West Country voyage.

The thing about sailing in the Bristol Channel is that the skipper will plan your ports vey carefully on a day by day basis to take into account the strong tides and difficult harbours. The mystery of which ports you call out will is all part of the adventure.


  • 7 night voyage from Newlyn to Bristol
  • The mystery of the exact route?
  • Expert Tuition from Irene’s skipper and crew
  • Sail the beautiful traditional Sailing Ketch, Irene of Bridgewater
  • Comfortable 2 Berth Cabins with en-suite
  • Home Cooked Food with resident Chef.


Vessel type / Rig Two Masted Ketch
Guest Berths 10
Beam 21ft
Draft 8.8ft
Deck Length 85ft
Overall Length 124ft
Tonnage 98 tons
Year Built 1907
More about the Vessel

Voyage Description

Crowds watch the launch of irene in 1907


Join the crew of Irene for a seven night voyage as she follows her old trading route from Newlyn to bristol. An elegant 1907 sailing ship that has been converted to adventure charter with a high crew to guest ratio, Irene makes a great summer treat. She has ensuite cabins for 2 & a characterful wooden interior. You can even book the owners suite as Leslie and Pat have gracefully handed over the running of the ship to their next generation and Irene’s full time professional captain and crew.

"Irene under sail"
Irene under sail

Setting Sail from Newlyn

Leaving Newlyn and keeping the shore to starboard you will round Lands End and head into the Bristol Channel. To the south of oyu will be the rugged north coast of Cornwall. The problem with sailing in the Bristol Channel is that there are no ports you can enter at all states of tide. This means the skipper will have to plan very carefully to take into account the weather and the tides. In north Cornwall the main possibility is Padstow which has a tidal dock, In Devon Irene can enter Taw estuary over the bar at high water and anchor off Appledore. 

Lundy Islands is a small island with a tiny population, about of conservation volunteers, wardens and wildlife staff, unfortunately there is no guarantee that you can visit as the anchorage is very exposed. 

Tall Ship Sailing on Irene with Classic Sailing

Clifton Suspension Bridge with the River Avon that leads to Bristol Docks

To the North of Lundy lies the coast of Pembrokeshire and South Wales, the Mumbles at Swansea is a possible anchorage. Further up the Bristol Channel you will se the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm. I think you will be able to tell the difference!

Tall Ship Sailing on Irene with Classic Sailing

Entering the Avon to go into Bristol you will pass under Clifton Suspension Bridge.

"Irene crew on deck"
Irene crew on deck


The Isles of Scilly are set offshore of Cornwall by 20 miles from Lands End and they are very definitely in the Atlantic. This 35 mile passage can be rough but Irene has crossed the Atlantic on many occasions and will make sure you arrive safely in the Isles of Scilly. Once you are in the Isles you can expect a gentle swell even in the best of anchorages.


Whether you are an experienced sailor or a complete beginner, the professional crew will train you to be guest crew from the moment you arrive, with the intention that everybody works together to sail the ship. The common thread to all Classic Sailing holidays is ‘Hands on’ participation on ships that use ropes, blocks and tackles and ‘people power’ to set sail.


We cater for a wide range of ages and physical abilities and how much you are expected to do varies a bit between vessels. See the vessel tab above which explains all about the ‘sailing style’ and what to expect in terms of hands on participation. There is a lot of information about day to day life, the ships facilities and accommodation on the vessel pages.


Every customer sailing with us will need to fill in basic medical questions on their booking application. If you are not sure if your current level of fitness and agility are up to a voyage, then please ring the Classic Sailing Office on 01326 53 1234 and we can chat through your concerns and possibly find options that might suit you better.

Sail tall ship Irene to the Isles of Scilly with Classic Sailing
The state room double bed

Start & End Port

Newlyn, Cornwall

The address for the Strand in Newlyn is; Strand, Newlyn, TR18 5HW. Take a note of the ship’s phone number sent in your confirmation in case you cannot see your vessel.

Bristol, UK

Often, the exact location in Bristol won’t be confirmed until much closer to the time. Make sure you make a note of the ship’s phone number found in your final confirmation for any problems on the day.

Below is the likely joining location for voyages with Irene in 2018.

Kit List

Kit List for Irene


  • Sailing instruction 
  • Safety Equipment (Life jackets)
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • All meals including refreshments throughout the day.
  • Bed linen, duvet, pillows. 

What's Not Included

  • Travel to and from the start and end port. 
  • Optional trips or tours taken ashore
  • Meals ashore (rarely taken)
  • Alcoholic Beverages, although wine with your evening meal is provided. 

What to bring

There is limited storage space on Irene so please pack all you belongings in a soft rucksack or bag.

  • Footwear: Shoes with a good grip e.g. trainers or sailing deck shoes. (Sandals are great for beaches but you do need toe protection for sailing). Irene has solid wood decks so waterproof walking boots are fine at sea in moderate winds and dry conditions and great for voyages where you might do some rough terrain walking like Scillies or Scotland voyages.
  • Rubber Boots or second pair of shoes for wet weather or getting in/out of dinghies. 
  • Swim suit & beach towel
  • Suntan lotion & sunglasses
  • Sun hat / warm hat, scarves, gloves
  • Clothes that dry quickly like fleeces and thermals. Mix of warm, waterproof & windproof layers. Wool jumpers are warm, even when wet, but can take a while to dry. Merino wool type shirts are good for under layers if sailing in colder climates.
  • Small rucksack for going ashore
  • Travel insurance documents/any travel tickets
  • Passport for French Voyages, Ireland or any 6 day voyage like Scillies where Brittany might be an alternative option. On French voyages Reciprocal Free Health Care Card for Europe.
  • Personal medicines/ spectacles/ seasick tablets –check which brand if you suffer from asthma or are on regular medication.
  • Camera/binoculars etc
  • Modest quantity of alcohol for evening meals if desired
  • You are welcome to bring musical instruments



Irene - Sail and Kayak 2 June 2019

Enjoy the Most

The crew were excellent, allowing us to assist in almost all of the sailing tasks, building up our confidence at the same time as being alert to doing the actions properly and safely. All done with good humour and intelligence and full explanations. So we all responded wanting to do as much as we could. The ambience of the boat was very congenial and friendly. We guests all got on well and the crew were very good company. 
We kayaked on 3 occasions, when  weather permitted and they were a highlight of a different sort...conditions were perfect and although I hadn't done it before , our instructor was excellent, combining kayaking with shoreline explorations.

Enjoy Least - Doesn't exist

Why do you sail?

I hadn't sailed before. I heard about Classic sailing from someone going on the Lord Nelson last year, and looked into it as an adventurous thing to do to celebrate my 70th. I like to be physically active, and the combination of trying sea kayaking in the Western Isles was a perfect combination. I was pleased we had a variety of weather, and mostly with a wind so we could be actively helping with the sails. The calm sunny days for kayaking came out of the blue and were perfect days between weathers.

Voyage Summary

Well done to the Skipper and crew, the chef and the kayak instructor, they were exceptionally good at their jobs, very personable and full of character

What did you enjoy the most?

The final day on Colonsay when we managed to fit in sea kayaking amongst thousands of sea birds, a picnic lunch in the sun on one beach, a walk back across the island and a barbeque supper on another beach!

The worst bits? –

The first day sailing from Oban to Jura was quite rough and very cold - the crew should have offered some sailing jackets and salopettes but we only got these later in the week by asking.

Classic Sailing has been re-assured by Irene that this oversight will not happen again, please accept our apologies for not providing the waterproofs sooner and without having to be asked for.


Why do your sail?

I love sailing and there is something special about doing everything manually on Irene and getting some feeling for what it must have been like back in the early 20th century when she was a working boat.  Also, sailing on a large old wooden boat is a very different experience to the smaller modern glass-fibre yachts which is where I have done all my other sailing.


Voyage Summary

This trip was advertised as a trip to the Small Isles but because of the wind and tide conditions we ended up going the other way to Jura and Islay.  Perhaps it could be made clearer that the Scottish voyages are likely to be changed according to the conditions.  It was also supposed to offer a choice of sea kayaking or island exploration but there was only one guide/instructor for both activities so it wasn't really possible to have one group doing kayaking while another group went ashore.  That said it was my first experience of sea kayaking and I really enjoyed it - the equipment provided kept us warm and dry and our guide Tim was excellent and took some amazing photos which he shared with us all.  It was my second trip on Irene (which is a beautiful boat in every sense) and it was good to be reunited with Dave (second in command) and Keith (wonderful chef)! Ian M June 2019

Irene June 2019, Jonathan P

Please accept our apologies for the failure to get to the Small Isles. As you mentioned the wind and weather conditions did not make this sensible.

On ALL our voyages we state the following –

On a sailing voyage we never use the word itinerary, as skippers will always be aiming for the best sailing and shore landings for the forecast and most idyllic or sheltered anchors and ports. They are as keen as you to include some of the highlights described below, but you have to go with Mother Nature, not fight her.


Online Review
The crew was fantastic!

What did you think of the safety briefing?


What did you think of the accommodation onboard?


Did you have enough personal attention?


Did you think of the Captain/Skipper and the paid crew?


What did you think of the food quality?


How was the sailing?

Just right

Did you have any rough weather?


Did you feel the voyage had?

A good mix of sailing and ashore.

What was the best bit?

The crew was fantastic! They clearly enjoyed what they were doing, they shared and taught us and had us working as a team day 1. They were all great, but Alex, our chef was fabulous. The meals were top notch, so much variety and an incredible attention to detail. Jens our captain was so easy going and friendly and sharing, made us feel like part of the family.

What was the worst bit?

A little too much motoring due to wind conditions some days, couldn't be helped if we were going to stay on schedule. (The lack of wind also made it difficult, says Adam at Classic Sailing.)

Why do you sail? 

I enjoy the quiet and the outdoors.

Irene 21st June 2019 Leonardo K.


Sail, Paddle & Walk Voyage

What was the best bit?

All of it, even though there was bad weather that limited the amount of canoeing we could do it still didn't ruin the event. l went on this trip as it combined, canoeing, sailing and some hiking too, so what was there not to enjoy.


What was the worst bit?

The end of the trip..


Why do you sail?

I enjoy sailing as it gets you involved also gives you a good feeling when after all the hard work and your sailing along at a few knots as a result of that hard work, also you are learning all the time as there is always something that needs doing.


Any other comments

Irene's crew were great, the Skipper had a real calm outlook that clearly comes from his years of sailing, the second mate Dave, who clearly has so much knowledge of Irene and throughout the trip was always looking out for crew and guests safety. The Deck hands Vicky & Dan were also great ensuring we were safe and assisting us in all we done, they also done a wonderful BBQ on the beach for us, the chef Keith, his food was really nice with so much attention in making our meal time enjoyable. Tim Hamlet had so much knowledge in his field and shared that knowledge with us whenever we were canoeing and hiking.. The crew were a great mix as were the our guests... Please pass on my thanks to them. - By Gary C. Guest Crew member Summer 2019

Gary C customer feedback photo from Sail, Paddle, Walk voyage on Irene
Gary C customer feedback photo from Sail, Paddle, Walk voyage on Irene
Irene in Scotland with Kayaks

You enjoyed –

Kayaking through waterfalls and around secluded bays. Being amongst an amazing variety of flora and fauna including a sea eagle, oyster catchers, seals, porpoises and minke whales. We foraged for food on one outing and enjoyed seaweed, sea thrift, mussels and periwinkles for dinner.

But not –

A frustrating day of rain and no wind.

Why sail –

Getting close to nature, often in remote areas not easily accessible otherwise.

A new place to explore almost every day. The trips I have chosen have been a great mixture of both sailing and time ashore in interesting destinations. Sharing the adventure with interesting and friendly shipmates and free spirited crew. A welcome break from Brexit, news, TV and wifi! Spectacular seas and starry skies.

Summary –

I had a great week in the Hebrides on board Irene. Our skipper made the trip interesting and fun -  always in good humour, very intelligent and hugely capable. Keith the cook worked tirelessly to provide us with lovely meals and Vicky and Dan were friendly and helpful. Cag, our kayak instructor was a joy - full of energy and extremely knowledgeable.

Thanks for a fabulous week - really great memories.

The Isles of Scilly

The best bit - The sail back from the Scillies was spectacular.  We had a perfect wind to enable us to do a broad reach straight to the Cornish coast and reached 8 knots at times.  The sun was shining and we were also joined by a large pod of dolphins that swam along with us for several minutes - a very special experience!

The worst bit - The chosen anchorage on the first night was a bit exposed to the swell and made sleep a bit difficult at times.

Why do you sail?

I have always loved sailing but experience to date has all been on modern yachts of less than 40 feet.  This was a chance to try something different and get a taste of what it must have been like 100 years ago when Irene was a commercial cargo boat.  It was a fantastic experience and one I am keen to repeat.

In summary - The crew were very young (relative to the 'guests') but were all very professional when it came to the sailing and boat handling and they inspired confidence.  They were also happy to accommodate our requests and answer our many questions. 

Jonathan P Aug 18 Isles of Scilly


Hannah, the skipper, was a tribute to the world of sailing. She is clearly very competent and knowledgeable and instilled confidence whilst maintaining a relaxed and fun atmosphere. I therefore felt very safe and was able to relax and enjoy my first adventure at sea. I very much enjoyed the kayaking and Mike was also very knowledgable and accommodating. Lotte, the chef, was first class

Whisky, Wildlife & Waves

What was the best bit?

The skipper knew his job thoroughly, as did the mate and they very ably supported by the crew. They went out of their way to ensure that everybody could get the most out of their holiday. The food was superlative. This was one of my best weeks’ holiday ever. John H, Whisky Wildlife and waves, June 2018

What was the worst bit?

Not long enough! Door in the head didn't fully open due to the size, would have been better to have consetina door.

Why do you sail?

Never sailed before so the mix of walk, kayak and sail was very attractive

Any other comments

6 days is too short to make the most if the environment" 

Julie H. Customer Feedback Photo
Julie H. Customer Feedback Photo
Falmouth Taster

What was the best bit?
"Hauling up the mainsail for the first time and feeling her filling with wind."

What was the Worst Bit?
"There wasn't a worst bit. Trying to store the foresail in the evening while bouncing around on the netting, but I still enjoyed it."

Why do you sail?
"I used to sail when young, but only inland and I wanted to go out onto the sea after reading about it so often. I'm in my 70s now and want to make the most of my body while I still can. Father and grandfather were in the Royal Navy and it feels like I'm continuing the tradition" 

Any other comments?
"Although we caught what were probably the only 3 days good weather down in Falmouth in April and so had no wind, the skipper still gave us a good sailing experience. All the crew were great, full of good humour and experience even though they are young - well, under 30, which is young for me. The cook, Alex, was attentive to my dietary needs and his meals surpassed my expectations." 

Jackie W. Guest Feedback Photo
Jackie W. Guest Feedback Photo
Five Stars!

I had the best trip of my life on Irene, from Oban to Newlyn. We arrived on Friday and have just been to have a last look at her before going home tomorrow . I'm totally in love. With a ship! Fabulous crew and food and sailing companions and pre-sail admin and everything. Fiona F ***** 5 stars

Seriously good whiskies!

"What a week of amazing experiences – incredible crew (thank you!), sailing and food.  Topped off by seriously good whiskies! Heaven!  KA 3rd June 2017


 "Wonderful few days with such a welcoming and friendly crew.  Excellent food, weather and company.  Looking forward to seeing you all in Bristol next year.  Thanks for everything. " EH 11th May 2017

Thank you!

"A thousand thanks for the wonderful time and fantastic food.  Most of all, thanks to Irene for the pleasure of her company." CB 21st May 2017

Video Feedback below from Andrew E sailing from Dartmouth to Oban on Irene. 

Vessel Gallery

1907 Irene of Bridgewater is an authentic West Country Trading Ketch, but below decks shee has two person ensuite cabins. Photos from Classic Sailing customers, ships crew and professional photographers with show how you can have a salty holiday with a good bit of comfort. We hope it gives a flavour of her sailing, life on board, the people that come, her beautiful sailing grounds and what it is like to live below decks.

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