Top 5 beaches to visit in Scotland

TREAT YOURSELF TO WHITE SANDS AND CLEAR BLUE SEA

Co-author of the new Wild Guide Scotland, Richard Gaston, shares his top 5 Scottish beaches.

Scotland has some of the most beautiful and unspoilt beaches in the world. In the Outer Hebrides, white arcs stretch for miles, with pristine sands rinsed by the North Atlantic and high undulating dunes backed by colourful flowering machair. Others are hidden within sheltered rocky coves where the sea is azure-green and crystal-clear, perfect for a peaceful and refreshing swim.

Smirisary White Sands

A walk downhill through a deserted village leads to two small beaches at Port Achadh an Aonaich. The wild and rugged hills of Eilean Shona sit to the south, on a good day there are great views of the Small Isles and the opportunity for a bracing dip in the beautifully clear waters.

Smirisary White Sands

Finding the beach

From Smirisary Township (near Glenuig) turn right at the end of field towards a white cottage, then left at a small sign. Follow the path uphill along a ridge, passing a ruined house on the left. Continue along the coast until the path drops down to two beaches.

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Sandwood Bay

The iconic Sandwood Bay is a wild and remote beach on the most north-western edge of mainland Scotland. This magnificent stretch of pink-hued sand is bounded by the Am Buachaille sea stack and backed by a broad belt of rolling dunes, where it’s possible to find shelter for wild camping.

Sandwood Bay

In a melancholy touch, receding waves often uncover the remains of a Spitfire engine in the sands, the last relic of a 1941 crash landing. Rip currents can develop here so be careful if you decide to go for a swim.

Finding the beach

Leave the B801 at Kinlochbervie, towards Oldshoremore. Continue on this road for half a mile beyond turning to Polin, to Blairmore and John Muir Trust car park on the left. The well-marked 3-mile track to Sandwood, across moorland, begins over the gate opposite. Turn left at end of second loch.

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West Beach, Berneray

Ideal for long walks, this magnificent 3-mile, white sand beach with turquoise waters is backed by high dunes and an impressive border of machair - home to an assortment of wildflowers in the summer months. Views over the Sound of Harris are truly incredible, with the mountainous South Harris providing a remarkable backdrop for a long stroll.

West Beach

Finding the beach

After crossing the causeway from North Uist, take the second left past the village of Borve. Follow the minor road for 10 miles from the turning to an informal car park by the fields. From here follow the path towards the coast. This is the south end of the beach, so follow the sands north for as long as you wish. Return the same way, or continue around the island in a loop back to the car park.

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Sands of Forvie

Forvie is a lonely place where the shifting sands reveal lost ruins – a church is all that remains of a village long reclaimed by an ever-changing lunar landscape. To reach the beach is a pleasure in itself as the route takes you over a vast ascending bay and down through large dunes which eventually reaching the golden sands of Forvie.

Sands of Forvie

Now a nature reserve, this is a starkly beautiful location to watch seals and birdlife.

Finding the beach

Begin at the Forvie visitor centre on B9003 towards Collieston. Follow the red waymarked route which passes the north side of Sand Loch, then head right along the clifftop path and right at red marker to reach a ruined church. Alternatively follow path leading south from the car park along the river to the sand dunes.

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Fidden Beach

On a sunny day the bay at Fidden could be easily mistaken for the Caribbean. Facing west over an archipelago of skerries and small islands towards Iona and beyond, the sunsets are spectacular. Pink granite outcrops give the water an ethereal hue and this is a perfect place for kayaking and fishing.

Fidden Beach

If you fail to make a catch, head to Creel Seafood Bar at the nearby ferry terminal in Fionnphort and tuck into some delicious fresh shellfish. Fidden Farm campsite has simple facilities and beach-side pitches.

Finding the beach

Turn left in Fionnphort before the ferry, signed for Fidden and Knockvologan and follow signs for Fidden Farm until you reach small car park by the farm and campsite.

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About the book

Wild Guide Scotland: Hidden Places, Great Adventures & the Good Life Paperback( by Kimberley Grant, Richard Gaston, David Cooper (Wild Things Publishing) charts 750 of Scotland finest wild places and is available to buy now.

Readers can receive a 20% discount on the RRP (£16.99) and free P&P with code ‘osscotland’ at Wild Things Publishing.

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Wild Guide Scotland: Hidden Places, Great Adventures & the Good Life

Wild Guide Scotland: Hidden Places, Great Adventures & the Good Life

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