My favourite beach: “so beautiful it almost hurts to look”!

Following on from our Friday post, three more members of our coastal & marine team share their favourite beaches with us. We’d love to hear about your favourite and what makes it so special for you. Tag us on Twitter (@nature_scot)  if you’d like to share!

Beàrnaraigh – Stewart Angus, Coastal Ecologist


 Beàrnaraigh, (C) Stewart Angus

Once you cross the causeway from mainland North Uist to the wonderful island of Beàrnaraigh, things just get better and better. Take the turning to Borve and keep going, past some of the most spectacular machair crofts you will see anywhere, populated by wheeling, shrieking lapwings and oyestercatchers.


 Beàrnaraigh, (C) Stewart Angus

Not far from the car park at the base of the hill, there is a gap in the dune ridge. On the other side of this gap lies a view so beautiful it almost hurts to look. An endless strand of unfeasibly white sand lies next to a sea of vivid turquoise and there, just offshore, are the islands of Boraraigh and Pabaigh, each with its own bright fringe of sand, Pabaigh with its conical hill and Boraraigh almost split in two by a machair loch. On a good day, the west side of Beàrnaraigh is up there with the best in Britain for variety of shells. If the beach is washed clean, no matter – it is impossible for this beach to disappoint.


 Beàrnaraigh, (C) Stewart Angus


Ailsa Craig –  Chris Eastham, Marine Renewables

 A granite jewel in the Firth of Clyde.  The island is formed from the volcanic plug of an extinct volcanic.  Today it’s best known for internationally important numbers of breeding seabirds, including huge numbers of gannets, and the blue hone granite which has long been quarried to make curling stones.

Whilst working as an area officer for SNH, I’ve had the good fortune to visit the island a couple of times.  The view from the very top of Ailsa Craig across the Firth of Clyde is spectacular, and I’ll always remember the incredible numbers of seabirds and wondering about the vast distances they’ve flown to provide food for hungry chicks.

Ailsa Craig

Ailsa Craig, by August Schwerdfeger [CC BY 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Dornoch and Applecross – Alistair Rennie, Dynamic Coast Project Manager

Dornoch beach is a Highland gem. Once you’ve wiggled though the beautiful sandstone buildings of Dornoch, passed the championship golf course you drop down an old low cliff-line onto the links. The wide sands of Dornoch beach stretches out before you, an expanse of dune grasses to the right, sea to the left sometimes still, sometimes with rows of waves extending for miles. Whether it is a crisp or blowy winters walk, or a summertime splash, you’re sure to enjoy this beach, see some seals and come back refreshed.

Whilst  is a little further to find, the rewards at Applecross are well worth it. The Applecross peninsula looks out on Raasay and Skye, and the beaches are protected on three sides by one-billion year old Torridonian mountains – some of the most stunning in Scotland. The road in, the highest in Britain, is spectacular and now part of the North Coast 500 tourist route.


The beaches are flat, wide and if you time it right on a sunny day, perfect for paddling as the incoming tide gets warmed by the almost red sandy beach. The beaches are rarely busy and along with the panoramic views are the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of modern life. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles above and marine life in the crystal clear waters. Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy some great sea-food while you’re there!

This entry was posted in beach, beaches, coastal, machair, Marine, sea life, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.