Best Beaches of Scotland
During our travels in Scotland we have come across many fabulous beaches. While our climate, may not always be conducive to making best use of facsilities, Scotland still has beaches to equal some of the best in more tropical climates.
Our criteria when considering best beaches was not purely on the basis of the expanse of sand and cleanliness of water. We also considered the wildlife, accessibility for people and dogs . Based on this we have compiled our top ten best beaches in Scotland, so here, as they say, in no particular order, Scotland’s best beaches:
Gruinard Bay Wester Ross
Gruinard bay on the Wester Ross coastal trail features not one but three sandy beaches with two small rivers, Little Gruinard River and the Inverianvie River flowing into the bay. Sand on the beaches tends to be pinkish rather than golden and the bay holds some sheltered sand dunes. Gruinard bay provides a startling and welcome break to the typically rocky landscape of the region and is a great place for dog walks, especially at low tide when it becomes possible to walk between the different areas of beach.
Car Park: 57.852190, -5.451880
Strathy Bay Sutherland
Strathy Bay is a beautiful wide sandy beach sheltered amongst rocky headland. A sandy path leads down hill from the car park through the naturally formed dunes to the golden sands below. The beach is popular with surfers and a great spot for dogs. The car park features a unique log cabin which provides toilet facilities. The surrounding sea is a good feeding ground for seabirds including terns from the local colony at the far end of the beach. Well worth a visit. Car park is located at 58.563530, -3.998720.
Balnakiel Beach Sutherland
The beach of Balnakiel bay is a long expanse of sand which eventually leads to the cliffs of Faraid Island, home to many nesting seabirds including a small number of Puffins. The most striking thing about Balnakiel is however not the beautiful sandy beach nor the sparkling waves, but the dunes. If you stray off behind the beach you will encounter the stunning miles of dunes some 20ft high or more, not to be missed. For the dogs, plenty of good walks on and off the beach.
Sandwood Bay Shegra Sutherland
In terms of accessibility Sandwood beach does not score very well being at the end of a 4 mile track from Blairmore. The view of Sandwood bay from the top of the hill when it finally comes into sight is however reward enough. The beach at Sandwood is stunning and argued to be the best in Scotland. Sandwood beach forms part of the Sandwood Estate owned by the John Muir trust since 1993, more information on http://www.jmt.org/sandwood-estate.asp. The track to Sandwood is good and the going easy, a great walk for the dogs and the beach is a popular spot for wild camping.
Blairmore Car Park: 58.490940, -5.099790
Traigh Stir Hosta North Uist
A beautiful good sized beach of silver sand and large dunes. This is a great area to relax, walk the dog or just enjoy the scenery. Popular with campers and reputably some of the best surfing waters in the Uists. Grass parking and a picnic area is available just off the beach at the end of a short track. 57.626610,-7.498890
At the end of a long 12 mile single track road which winds through the grounds of Amhuinnsuidhe Castle lies the white sands of Huisinis beach. A short walk over the hill lies an area of Machair where a small jetty overlooks the Antlantic and the Isle of Scarp.
The small carpark is located at 57.995722,-7.092605
Ardroil Beach Uig Lewis
Ardroil beach is a huge expanse of sand much of which remains uncovered even at full tide. The beach is skirted by a large area of dunes and machair which makes this a fabulous area for access and walking. It is the combination of natural beauty and accessibility that makes Ardroil something very special and accounts for its popularity with both locals and visitors. The area is managed by Ardroil Grazing Committee and although grazed by sheep and cattle the area is cleared from around March to September. For a small price you can even camp with tent or campervan literally on the beach, but please ensure you support the comunity particularly if using the facilities. For those with an interest in wildlife a good variety of birds can be found in the area at different times throughout the year and we have even seen and heard Corncrake here in the summer. The area is also famous as being the site where the Uig or Lewis chessmen where discovered in 1831. The 78 pieces elaborately carved in walrus tusk stood between 3.5cm and 10.2cm high and a single wooden replica can be seen on route to the beach.
The car park is located at 58.184750, -7.025640
Garry Beach Tolsta Lewis
Although not huge Garry Beach is a magical place with a bit of everything. The area around the golden sandy beach is home to nesting seabirds that make use of the rocks and stacks. Among the stacks to one side of the beach are caves while the other side of the beach is broken by the peaty stream as it enters the sea. There is a good sized car park and only a short walk to the “Bridge to Nowhere” the start of the 10 mile hermitage trail to Ness. Seatrout are known to be caught off the beach where gannets and terns can be seen feeding when the tide is right. Both the area around the beach and the walk to Ness are excellent for dogs, but there are sheep in some areas.
co-ordinates for the car park: 58.367822,-6.218826
St Ninians Beach Shetlands
The striking feature of St Ninians beach is a tombolo, a natural causeway, that connects the mainland to the Isle of St Ninians. Being about 500m long the tombolo is the largest geomorphologically active sand tombolo in Britain and a very popular vistor attraction. The chapel on St. Ninian’s Isle is famous for the treasure discovered there in 1958 by a Shetland Schoolboy. The 28 pieces of Pictish silver can be seen in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The beach has a large car park at 59.971743, -1.329746 and is set in an area of rural sheep farming.
Sands of Meal – Shetland
A small beach but what it lacks in size it makes up in quality. The white sparkling sands and pristine beach look almost unaturally brilliant, particularly in the bright sun. There is a good car park with toilet facilities just 300m from the beach and a short walk near the beach.
Car Park: 60.102221, -1.323347
While there are many more beaches we could include, no doubt you may have your own favourites, these are just some of ours. If we had to choose one, well that would be …. So whats yours?