Places to cool off when temperatures soar – Scotland on Sunday Travel

When temperatures rise, avoid getting into a sweat with these chilled activities.

Sandwood Bay, Sutherland, Scotland. Pic: PA Photo/Visit Scotland.
Sandwood Bay, Sutherland, Scotland. Pic: PA Photo/Visit Scotland.

When temperatures push up the mercury many of us have been be hunting down shade and a refreshing breeze. Here’s our selection of the coolest spots.

If you crave crowd-free beaches

The further north you go, the cooler the weather usually gets. Backed by large sand dunes and a freshwater loch near Kinlochbervie, pretty Sandwood Bay is often touted as the UK’s most beautiful beach. With no road access, it’s certainly one of the most remote stretches; arrive by foot on a four-mile path from Blairmore, where there is a car park and toilets, over peat moorland then marvel at the stunning views as you near your destination. Expect to find a stretch of pink sand backed by cliffs views of the coastline north to Cape Wrath – but far fewer crowds than you’d run into further south, especially out of season or during school holidays. Owned by the John Muir Trust Sandwood Bay has miles of golden sand and dunes, with rocky cliffs and a giant sandstone sea stack, Am Buachaille, which in gaelic means The Herdsman and can be seen at the southern end of the sands. Despite its popularity, it’s rearely busy as the expansive beach has plenty of room for all visitors. All of the land crossed on the walk approaching the Bay is crofted and dogs should be kept under very strict control so as not to disturb livestock and ground nesting birds.

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If you’re stuck in London

On a hot day back in the 13th century, King Henry III would apparently put his pet polar bear in the Thames for a cooling dip. Although you’re unlikely to run into an apex predator (or person) swimming through central London, England’s longest river does present plenty of opportunities to chill out and relax on the water. Located just outside Marlow (with free parking), Boat Rental Thames can rent water bikes (£19.50 per hour), kayaks (£50 per day), paddleboards (£50 per day), canoes and electric boats (£149 for a half day). Visit boatrentalthames.com.

If you want water without the waves

Designed in the 1930s, the triangular Art Deco Jubilee Pool at Penzance in Cornwall is the largest sea water pool in the UK. An impressive five million litres of natural, unfiltered sea water flow into the space, allowing swimmers to enjoy the salty sensation of an ocean swim without the dangers presented by fierce, unpredictable waves further out. The water is typically around two degrees warmer in the pool, and there’s also a geothermally heated section for those who prefer bathwater temperatures to swim and splash around in. An adult swim costs from £6; children from £4.50; under 4s are free. Visit jubileepool.co.uk.

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Tourists on waterbikes at Boat Rental Thames. Pic: PA Photo/Boat Rental Thames.

If you want to dive in

It’s an activity typically associated with warmer climates. Well, now that happens to be here. Although not as exotic as the Maldives or Indonesia, the waters around Ireland do have their own treasures to share. From Killary Harbour, a fjord on the west coast, divers can explore shipwrecks and weave through kelp beds, encountering lobsters, conger eels and large schools of pollack. PADI accredited centre Scuba Dive West can arrange dives. Visit scubadivewest.com.

If you need a wellbeing boost

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Chill out both physically and mentally at a new water therapy centre constructed on the site of a former goat farm. Built over calcite crystals, praised for their therapeutic benefits, an innovative wellbeing lake sprawls across seven acres at Ocean Walker Academy’s Crystal Lake in Lincolnshire. Along with general paddles, there are swim with dog sessions (where floating toys are allowed in the water), sound healing and night dips. An open water swim costs £9.50 for one hour, but must be booked in advance. Visit oceanwalkeracademy.com.

The seawater filled Jubilee Pool, Penzance, Cornwall. Pic: PA Photo/Adam Gibbard.
Divers offshore from Killary Harbour, Ireland. Pic: PA Photo/PADI
A swimmer at the Ocean Walker Academy’s Crystal Lake in Lincolnshire. Pic: PA Photo/Ocean Walker Academy.