The sun’s out, it’s hotter than Barcelona and Rome in Scotland today, so what better activity than to go to the beach?
Here are seven of our country’s most stunning stretches of sand (but we could have listed so many more).
1. Luskentyre, Isle of Harris
It couldn’t really be any other beach, could it? Luskentyre’s vast white sandy beach and turquoise water regularly make it into ‘best beaches’ lists, and no wonder. Situated at the end of a long and winding track, it was named one of the world’s best beaches, alongside beaches in Florida, South Africa and Brazil.
Its name is thought to derive from Lios-cinn-tir, meaning ‘headland fort’.
2. Seacliff, North Berwick
This private beach (entry is £3 and is well worth it) is located around five miles east of North Berwick, near to Tantallon Castle. A beautiful stretch of sand, with views north to the Bass Rock, curves round to St Baldred’s Boat, a rocky outcrop marked with a stone beacon and cross. The ‘Apostle of the Lothians’ also has a cave dedicated to him near the beach, while further round the bend are the Car Rocks and Scoughall Rocks. Legend has it that the ‘Pagans of Scoughall’ used to place lights on the latter to lure ships bound for the Forth Estuary onto the rocks so they could be plundered.
Those who keep on walking will eventually happen up on a breathtaking view of Tantallon Castle, and the incredible Seacliff harbour.
Hewn out of rock by Andrew Laidley in 1890 using a steam engine and compressed air, the harbour is rumoured to be one of Scotland’s smallest.
3. Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig
To be honest, we could have picked any of a number of beaches on the west coast, but there’s something about Camusdarach that hits the spot. This stunning beach, made famous by the film Local Hero - the hermit Ben Knox lives in a tumbledown shack at one end of the beach - is a favourite of many walkers, not just those in Arisaig and nearby Morar and Mallaig. With its perfect shell sand and clear views across to the Isles of Rum and Eigg and, eventually, the jagged Cuillin on the Isle of Skye, it’s a magnet for families, couples (you can actually get married on the beach), tourists and those chasing sunsets. Definitely one for the bucket list.
4. Sandwood Bay, Sutherland
This beach has it all. Stunning views, waves straight from a painting, a sea stack, the ghost of a shipwreck victim and a mermaid. Situated just a few miles south of Cape Wrath, the remote mile-long beach is home to the Am Buachaille sea stack and is part of the Sandwood Estate, run by the John Muir Trust.
The name ‘Sandwood’ is thought to derive from the Viking name ‘Sandvatn’, meaning sand water - the beach is likely to have been used by the Vikings as a stopover point.
Remote but beautiful, many have described this beach as being ‘at the end of the world’, such is the isolated nature of Sandwood.
A four-mile scramble across the hills is what it takes to get to Sandwood, but could there be any greater reward at the end of the hike?
5. Saligo Beach, Islay
One for the whisky-lovers here. Saligo Beach has a reputation as one of the best spots in the country for photographers to capture the Atlantic sunset, with the beach having breathtaking lighting, according to those in the know.
The site of a radar station during World War II, Saligo is just south of the distinctive ‘Sleeping Giant’ rock formation and is one of the best beaches on Scotland’s many islands.
6. Saltcoats Beach, North Ayrshire
This sandy beach can be found nestled between Ardrossan and Saltcoats in North Ayrshire, and is a particular favourite of young families.
The shallowness of the water makes it an ideal spot for toddlers and young children who want to splash about on hot days.
Although not the biggest or longest beach, its proximity to the town centre makes it easily accessible for all.
7. Coldingham Sands, Berwickshire
South Scotland’s finest beach? There aren’t many who’d disagree with that statement - on busy days, Coldingham Sands can attract upwards of 1,000 people. Awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award in 2010, it has also picked up the Seaside Award and five successive gongs for cleanliness between 2006 and 2010.
Around 200 metres wide, the sheltered beach is popular with families as well as surfers. Part of the St. Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve, Coldingham Sands may not share the iconic status as some of the other beaches on this list, but it’s well worth a visit.