Two remote Scots beaches named in world’s top 50

TWO remote Scottish beaches have been named among the best 50 in the world.

Sandalwood Bay, one of two Scottish beaches named in a list of the 50 best in the world. Picture: Wikimedia/CC

Traigh na Teampail on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides and Sandwood Bay in Sutherland were the only Scottish beaches to make the list that includes some of the most exotic and best known sands in the world.

The two west coast beauty spots were included in a list alongside the likes of Waikiki in Hawaii, Venice Beach in Los Angeles, Bondi at Sydney, Marbella in Spain, Camps Bay, South Africa, Ayia Napa, Cyprus, One Foot Island at Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, South Beach in Miami, Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro and Costa Navarino in the Greek Peloponnese.

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The guide also included other beaches from all over the world such as in Australia, Cuba, Seychelles, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Portugal, Sardinia and Mexico.

Sandwood Bay, about 11 miles from Cape Wrath - the most north westerly point on the Scottish mainland - and Traigh na Teampaill near Northton were placed on the same list by the influential Travel magazine.

The guide said it “interrogated locals, researched bus timetables and scoured sands to bring you ‘our get it right’ guarantee - the insider advice that makes these sensational strands do-able instead of dreamable.”

Of Sandwood Bay it said:”Pack a picnic, park at Blairmore and pull on your walking boots for the 13km round trip walk to Britain’s most remote beach.

“Protruding from Scotland’s craggy northwest corner, a neighbour of the shipwreck-strewn Cape Wrath, Sandwood Bay is as dreamy as it is dramatic.

“Limpid lochs, heather-covered hills and soaring cliffs lead to a swathe of golden sands, guarded by a giant sea stack.

“There are porpoises playing in the waters. Dozy sheep and ‘Heiland coos’ keep you company. Kittiwakes, guillemots, puffins, shags and Arctic terns provide a twittery soundtrack. Pitch-up between mid-June and late September and you may even spot humpback whales.”

Those that make the trek are rewarded with having one of the greatest beaches in the world usually to themselves. Sandwood has magnificent sands and dune systems. A landmark sea stack, Am Buachaille, and further miles of wild cliff scenery lead to quieter bays. Nearby are eight islands, a saltwater lagoon and the freshwater Sandwood Loch.

The area was acquired by the John Muir Trust in May 1993 and Sandwood Loch is at the junction between two rock types - Lewisian gneiss, multicoloured, with stripes, swirls and bubbles - and one of the oldest rocks in the world - and Torridonian sandstone, which is sandy, layered sedimentary rock, laid down about 600 million years ago.

Bird life teams in the area and several pairs of great skuas nest along the coastal heathland between Sheigra and Sandwood Bay, and on islands.

Of Traigh na Teampaill, the guide is equally glowing.

“You won’t find its name on any map - the Outer Hebrides are littered with bone-white beaches, so it’d be like naming all the traffic lights in London - but locals call it Traigh na Teampaill after the 15th century chapel on its headland.

“Is the best thing about it the sheep foraging for kelp along the powder-white sand? The gently-shelving cobalt shallows and rolling dunes? The wholesome Temple Cafe in nearby Northton, the perfect end to a perfect, windblown day?

“Tough choice, but for this Crusoe’s money, it’s the 30-minute walk across the grassy machair from Northton, seeing off all but the hardy.”