HERE we are, stuck at home for the most part, thanks to the virus. But we can still dream of the world outside. Here are five safe harbours we hope to visit again soon.

Portree Harbour, Skye

It’s been too long since we were at Portree harbour. Sadly, it will be a while before we can get back. But it’s always worth the journey.

A deep-water anchorage off the Sound of Raasay, Portree harbour is lined by pastel-coloured cottages and is home to working fishing boats. There are worse places to watch the world go by.

The great Victorian engineer Thomas Telford designed the harbour (one of many he was responsible for in Scotland), but it offers rather more than just historical site-seeing.

If you’re in the mood for a little exercise then climb the Lump, above the harbour, a walk that will offer views of Cuillin, Loch Portree and Ben Tianavaig, as well as a chance to see the Apothecary’s Tower, built in the 19th century to let visiting ships know there were medical services available in Portree.

Boat trips are available (visit skyeboat-trips.co.uk), but inevitably limited at the moment because of the pandemic. But if you do get a chance, eagle-spotting is a possibility. Whales and dolphins can be seen in summer too.

There are also a couple of chippies – one is even called The Chippy – if you are feeling peckish. But watch out for the gulls if you choose to eat in the open.

Crail Harbour, Fife

Really, you can’t go wrong with any of the harbours along the East Neuk. But Crail is one of the most popular. A handsome working harbour that’s home to creel boats, it offers views over the Firth of Forth and the North Sea. What’s that you are looking at? Oh, that’s probably the Isle of May.

HeraldScotland:

It’s the end of the season now. Reilly’s Shellfish shed has closed and won’t reopen until Easter. But Crail Harbour Gallery, above, remains open, located in the cellars of a 17th-century fisherman’s cottage. Worth keeping an eye out, too, for news on next year’s Crail Food Festival. Visit crailfoodfest.co.uk for more details.

Tobermory harbour, Isle of Mull

What’s the story, Balamory? Actually, not for a while now. That reference is about 15 years out of date. Tobermory, made famous by the BBC’s childrens’ TV programme which aired in the early years of the century, has been around as a fishing port since the late 1700s. Thomas Telford (him again) had a hand in subsequent urban planning, and advised on the construction of the fishermen’s pier, built in 1814 for the British Fisheries Society and now owned by the Tobermory Fishermen’s Association.

That colourful waterfront is a big draw for tourists. If you want to get away from the town you could always walk to the lighthouse. (But make sure you’ve packed a pair of wellingtons if you do).

When you get back you can then reward yourself with something to eat from the Tobermory Fish & Chip van (which comes with endorsements from Les Routiers and Prince Charles no less). It is open all year round, with fresh scallops a speciality.

North Berwick Harbour

Now run by the North Berwick Harbour Association and home to the East Lothian Yacht Club, North Berwick harbour dates back centuries. It used to be the place where pilgrims seeking to reach St Andrews would catch the ferry to Elie.

North Berwick itself has two beaches and all the advantages of being located in a thriving seaside resort. Close by is the Scottish Seabird Centre, which also offers boat trips to Bass Rock and the Isle of May to take in the abundant birdlife.

Alternatively, you could climb North Berwick Law for a commanding view.

And once you’ve seen the harbour you can always check out Tantallon Castle or the National Museum of Flight both of which are not too far away, though if harbours are your principal interest then pop down to Dunbar.

Portsoy Harbour

Up on the Moray coast between Cullen and Banff, there has been a harbour in Portsoy since the 16th century. The current one, however, is a little more recent. The “new” harbour was built in to accommodate the growing herring fleet, with the stones laid horizontally rather than vertically.

Times have changed, but a few boats still work out of the harbour. Portsoy itself is famous for its ice cream and its marble. Portsoy Ice Cream in Seafield Street is an award-winning family-run business that deserves a visit.

Please follow current Scottish Government advice regarding travel restrictions in your area