THE first time I saw Islay’s Kintra beach was magical. I was with my partner on a cycling holiday when we arrived at this beautiful Hebridean beach. It’s about ten miles long, and the only place on the island where camping is allowed. The site is in the dunes, so once you’ve set up camp you rarely see anyone else. There aren’t many facilities, and you feel as if you’re roughing it in the wild. Luckily, I’m one of those people who likes getting dirty and smelly.
At dusk I love walking along the beach looking for driftwood. It’s great to relax next to the fire with a beer, listening to the surf rolling in. You can see across the water to the lights of Port Charlotte twinkling in the distance. I think that once you’ve swum in the Atlantic it can only be disappointing to swim in warm sea. It doesn’t have the same zing. Some people, like me, enjoy jumping in cold seas and don’t find rain a problem. Others prefer a nice country-house hotel. That also has its place, but I love the Kintra beach experience.
We go back more often now that we have kids. It’s great to be able to let them run around, knowing that nothing serious is going to happen to them. There are always interesting things to do and you can easily while away the hours, whether you’re investigating a rock pool, or something that the sea’s washed up.
It’s amazing that there are still beautiful places to visit that aren’t dominated by vast holiday complexes. This is about as close to paradise as it’s possible to get, I think.