Scotland's cleanest - and dirtiest - beaches revealed

Scotland’s cleanest beach for bathing has been identified – as well as the waters that you might think twice about diving into.

Achmelvich Beach in Lochinver has been named as the cleanest in Scotland following one analysis of UK Government data. PIC: Steve Bittinger/Flickr/CC.

Achmelvich near Lochinver, Highland, long fabled for its turquoise seas and tranquil surrounds, has been given the highest cleanliness score in the country.

The score was measured after testing for E. Coli and Instestinal Enterococci, both bacteria found in the human gut, was carried out.

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The total score for Achmelvich was 87.1 out of 100, according to analysis released by comparison site SaveOnEnergy.com with the findings based on official UK Government data.

The Highland beach was ranked 59th for cleanliness out of 546 beaches in Scotland England and Wales.

The second cleanest beach in Scotland was named as Seacliff Beach in North Berwick, with a cleanliness score of 85.7/100. It comes in as the 69th cleanest out of all those analysed.

Dornoch Beach (83.3/100) came in third in Scotland with Ruby Bay at Elie named as fourth with a score of 73.3/100.

Neighbouring Elie Harbour and Earlsferry came in at number five with a score of 71.7/100.

The dirtiest beach in Scotland, according to the research, was named as Kinghorn Harbour in Fife, which scored just 0.1 out of 100.

Despite the ranking, Scottish Environment Protection Agency said some improvements had been made to the quality of water at the beach.

Sepa has given the beach a “sufficient” ranking for water quality given the impact of upgrades to Pettycur Sewage Treatment Works and Kinghorn Harbour pumping station.

Historically, it has suffered from short term pollution following heavy rainfall, which can lead to sewers overflowing into the water.

Heads of Ayr was named by the energy comparison company as the second dirtiest beach in Scotland with a cleanliness score of 0.3 out of a possible 100.

However, the stretch was given an “excellent” rating by Sepa this week in its annual assessment of bathing waters.

The third dirtiest beach identified by the firm was Ayr (South Beach), a stretch of coast that has long concerned environmentalists.

The energy firm said the beach had a cleanliness rating of 1.1 when measuring E.Coli and Instestinal Enteroccoci levels.

Sepa said that the beach had been ranked as “poor” in four separate years.

A spokesman added: “If a poor classification is given after the 2021 season it would not be listed as a designated Bathing Water in 2022 and would have general advice against bathing displayed at the beach.”

Fisherrow Sands in East Lothian was named as the fourth dirtiest beach by the company’s research.

This week, Sepa announced the stretch has not been designated as bathing water for the second year-in-a-row.

A Sepa spokesman said: “Whilst this does not mean the beach is closed, it does mean general advice against bathing still applies at this location."

The fifth dirtiest beach named by SaveOnEnergy.com was Eyemouth in Berwickshire.

Sepa said that the company’s analysis did not reflect its own findings.

A spokesman said: “This season Scotland has more bathing waters rated as excellent, good or sufficient than at any point since tighter standards first came into force in 2015 – with 94% achieving one of the three grades. There are also half as many bathing waters rated poor as there were in 2019 – down to five from the 10 two years ago.”

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