Wintering in the UK (Whitehaven) – 2019/20

Trying to locate a boatyard where we could work on our boat and live aboard at the same time, was proving difficult to find in the UK. However, we found what we needed in Whitehaven.

Whitehaven is on the north west coast of England in the Cumbria region near the impressive Lake District.

Blue Heeler stayed at Whitehaven Boat Yard and Marina from September 2019 to April 2020. The first three months were on the hard stand as we put in a new engine, removed our rudder and replaced all through-hulls, plus other work. This is a great place if you want to do work on your boat yourself but there are a couple of service providers too.

Timing the tide is imperative to access the harbour. From Bangor (Northern Ireland) to Whitehaven is around 80nm and is a good run if you catch the right tides.

The Isle of Man is 35nm to the west and Whitehaven looks over the Solway Firth towards Dumfries in Scotland. London is a six hour drive south, and Manchester airport is two hours away to the south.

The folks in Whitehaven are so welcoming which made our stay most enjoyable. Throughout the Cumbrian region you’ll be greeted by a friendly “arreet?” (All right?).

I highly recommend Whitehaven for a winter stay aboard your boat.


The Harbour, Marina and Boatyard

Outer harbour, Whitehaven

Outer harbour, Whitehaven

The marina has a lock and is accessible four hours either side of high tide. Check charts and marina for depths prior to entry.

Whitehaven is one of the few places which has a boatyard that allows you to live aboard while you work on your boat.

From the time you arrive at Whitehaven, you will notice the staff at the marina and boatyard are super friendly and will help you with anything you need.

You will be given codes to access the marina, boatyard and shower block and electricity credit is loaded onto a plastic key card.


Queens Marina, Whitehaven

Rates for berthing and boatyard are available on the Whitehaven Marina website. We paid GBP264.00 per month in the marina for a 12m berth.

To the north is the Queens Marina and to the south is Lowther Marina – both of which are managed by Whitehaven Marina.

As the marina is locked in, fresh water flows into the marina basins. Now and again the lockmaster will open the lock to flush the water. The docks are floating and sit well below the road level so it is very protected.

Electricity and Water

Electricity was charged at GBP0.19 kW and we used no more than 8kW per day on average, running our diesel heater, fridge and dehumidifier. The water is available at the docks and it was never cold enough during our stay for the water to be turned off due to freezing.


Whitehaven Marina

The boatyard has toilets only, but it’s a short walk across to the marina shower block. Here there are four showers and four toilets each for women and men. The block is spotless and the showers are free to use and hot.

Rubbish must be sorted into recyclable and garbage. Skips are located in the carpark.

There is a washer and a dryer in the amenities block. These large machines are well maintained and cost GBP4.00 for a wash and GBP3.00 for drying.

Boat Services and Parts

There is nothing in town as far as chandleries go, although Maiden Marine have a small outlet within the marina carpark. Deliveries to the marina take a day or so and items from Europe are easily delivered in a few days. The marina staff are happy to sign for any items during business hours.

The boatyard offers the usual services (such as antifouling, polishing, etc), however, for more complex jobs that you can’t do yourself you may find it difficult to find help.

There are a couple of businesses at the boat yard that offer engineering & marine electrician services available on site plus general boat repairs. As I never used their services I cannot recommend them, nonetheless I’ve listed them below:


Climate and Weather

Storm Ciara, February 2020

During our stay temperature was typically around 7-3 degrees Celsius and rarely did it dip below zero. Our boat is kept warm around 18degC and we run our dehumidifier now and then to keep humidity below 40%. It did not snow at all during our winter stay.

It does rain in Whitehaven – a lot! But there’s always weather windows to go for a walk. The locals don’t seem to mind at all.

The water temperature in the marina, which we checked now and again, was never below 8degC.

Storms from the south-west do blow over quite strong, but the marina is quite secure and as the boats sit well down in the marina basins they are protected from much of the strong winds.

Like many places we’ve visited over the past couple of years, the locals noted 2019/20 was a ‘most unusually warm winter’.

Click here to view Storm Ciara in action at Whitehaven Harbour.

Shopping and Eating Out

Fish’n’chips from Frasers

The town of Whitehaven has plenty of cafes, restaurants if you are inclined to eat out; although a Tesco supermarket is right next door to marina for those that enjoy staying aboard. There are other supermarkets within 10 minutes – Morrisons, Aldi, ASDA, Iceland, and so on.

There are the usual Poundland, Heron and other cheap outlets, plus a few ‘Op Shops’ in case you need to buy more woolly jumpers! For anything more, such as hardware, etc., there are larger stores in Workington (30 mins by bus).

There are plenty of places to eat out that won’t break your budget. A simple pizza or diner kebab can be found anywhere, plus there is Frasers Fish & Chips nearby too.

Things to do

Whitehaven to St Bees route

Whitehaven is a quiet town with little happening in the main shopping area over the Christmas season.

There is the Gaity Cinema across the road and plenty of pubs; Wetherspoons has inexpensive food and beer (also across the road); Stagecoach have buses throughout the Lake District so you can visit by bus to Keswick, Workington, Maryport. Further afield you can catch the train to St Bees, Barrow in Furness or Carlisle.

Whitehaven is located in a small valley and there are a number of good walks around the town itself to keep you fit over winter. There are often fine days if you want to take the boat out of the marina too.

Downtown Whitehaven

Whitehaven has an interesting history going right back to the early 1600s when it was founded. Whitehaven is a Georgian town with many fine buildings from that era.

Whitehaven was a busy port in its day, particularly to receive goods from the West Indies such as tobacco, sugar and other produce. Whitehaven was built on the back of the coal industry and ship-building and the Beacon Museum overlooking the marina has a lot of information.

Whitehaven is the starting location for the C2C (Sea to Sea) bicycle route across to Tynemouth on the east coast.


Banking and money

A number of banks and ATMs are located in the shopping strip.

Post Office

Located within the W.H.Smith shop in the main shopping strip.

Diesel and LPG

The marina has a fuel dock with red diesel. At the time of writing this document, red fuel is still split by percentage (propulsion vs heating). Tesco has a service station nearby for unleaded fuel.

The marina offers Calor gas bottle exchange. If you have SafeFill bottles, filling locations are some distance away and will require a car.


Deliveries by UPS, DPD, Fedex, Royal Mail, ParcelForce, Hermes, and others are readily accepted by the marina office. There is a Royal Mail Distribution Centre not far away too. There are also drop-off centres for DPD and UPS at various shops around the town.


The train station is 200m from the marina (next to Tesco) and convenient for trips to Workington or further afield (takes around seven hours to reach London/Heathrow). You can take your bike on the train but spaces are limited.

There is also a bus to Workington and beyond. Stagecoach offers special fares for daily, weekly or other for West Cumbria or the Lake District. There is also a car hire company in town (Enterprise).



If you need further information on our stay, please contact us through our Contact Page.

Sunset over Whitehaven