A REMOTE beach off the north-west coast of Scotland has been included in the top ten beaches in the UK.
Luskentyre beach on the Isle of Harris, in the Western Isles, was ranked eighth in the country, ahead of Hengistbury Head in Bournemouth, and Sandbanks in Poole, by the travel review website TripAdvisor.
Loved by visitors for its unspoiled landscape, the beach sits at the end of a long, winding minor road and it has already been the recipient of global recognition.
In 2012, it was named one of the best beaches in world alongside sites in Brazil, Florida and South Africa by Time magazine,
The Undiscovered Scotland website, which offers a guide to the far-flung parts of the country, describes the beach and the surrounding smaller ones as having a recurring theme of “stunning blues and turquoises of the sea set against the near whites of the beaches, the different blues of the skies, the greens of the grass and the greys of the rocks. Coastal scenery really doesn’t come any better than this.”
Of Luskentyre alone, the guide says: “In the right weather it is difficult to imagine there is a better beach anywhere.”
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Surrounded by a small settlement, the name Luskentyre derives from Lios-cinn-tir, meaning “headland fort”, although there is no trace or local knowledge of a fort at the headland.
The island’s unspoiled allure has also formed part of a £52,000 tourism campaign to inspire people to visit the Outer Hebrides this spring and summer.
Having held 13th place in last year’s list, the location has dislodged Nairn beach from TripAdvisor’s top ten in Britain. Nairn was praised last year for “its climate, golden sands and amazing views across the Moray Firth – great for dolphin-spotting – to the Black Isle”,
Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said: “This is another superb accolade for Luskentyre beach, but its inclusion on the list of best UK beaches is not surprising. Its white sands, coupled with spectacular scenery, make it hugely popular among visitors and locals alike. The Outer Hebrides is a beautiful part of the world and VisitScotland – in partnership with the local authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – recently launched a brand new marketing campaign to promote the region. “
Cantlay added: “This Travellers’ Choice Beaches Award will help to further raise the profile of Luskentyre and of Harris, encouraging even more people to visit.”
The Best Beach list was topped this year by Woolacombe beach in Devon, described as “a three-mile long stretch of golden sand and rolling, unbroken surf, ideal for surfers and backed by sandy hills”.
Woolacombe also made into TripAdvisor’s top European locations, taking the fourth place, though the top spot went to Rabbit Beach in Lampedusa, Italy.
There were no Scottish locations included in the European list. And, Luskentyre’s plaudits are at odds with the condition of some of Scotland’s other beaches.
In September last year, the annual survey of Scotland’s bathing waters by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) showed that contamination from human and animal faeces last summer was worse than in 2013.
The Sepa report showed that the health of paddlers, swimmers and surfers at 14 beaches across Scotland has been put at risk by pollution from overflowing sewers and farms,
It was also revealed last year that some of the North-east’s most attractive, award-winning beaches were in danger of falling foul of new pollution standards this year.
European guidelines for water quality, which focus on checking for bacteria that are harmful to human health, could see them rated “poor” this year.