ABERDEEN’S golden sands, even at the height of summer, are lucky to attract more than a handful of hardy surfers brave enough to take a dip in the icy waters. The words "balmy" and "North Sea" hardly trip off the tongue together.
But the mile-long beach, once a mecca for Glasgow Fair holidaymakers in the days before package holidays to the Costas, could get a new lease of life - as the site for the first designated nudist beach on the Scottish mainland.
A small band of dedicated naturists, who have bared all for decades at two unofficial nudist beaches on the opposite side of the River Don, want a more convenient spot, only minutes from the city centre.
Suzanne Piper, the research and liaison officer for British Naturism, said: "The information I have is that Aberdeen has a huge beach and there ought to be enough space for a little bit for naturists. I know that local naturists use the beaches at Balmedie and Black Dog, but they are fair distance away and it would be very nice if families and people who live and work in the city had somewhere they could perhaps pop down to in the lunchtime or in the evening.
"You do get nice weather up there, I am assured."
Ms Piper claimed Aberdeen’s reputation as one of the chilliest of spots would be no barrier to bathing in the buff. She said: "The designated beaches we have in East Anglia and Lincolnshire can be jolly cold as well, but the thing is that if it is warm enough to be there in a swimming costume, it is warm enough to be nude. In fact, a wet swimming costume will actually chill you and a nude body will dry off a lot quicker."
She added: "We have done some research and found there are no by-laws prohibiting nudity on the beaches. Theoretically, one could go nude anywhere, but naturists would rather have the security of a properly designated area. Any designated beach would have signs warning people who may be offended . They can choose not to go on that beach."
Scotland’s only official nudist beach is at Cleat’s Shore, on the tip of the Isle of Arran. But Ms Piper explained: "It is a bit difficult and expensive to get to and that means the number of people who take advantage of it are very limited."
Margaret Denny, 65, of Scottish Naturists, said: "Why not take your clothes off in Aberdeen? I have been at it for 40 years. You are speaking to somebody who has been there, seen it and done it all - I don’t need the T-shirt."
Jurgen Thomaneck, the Labour councillor for Castlehill, whose ward takes in most of Aberdeen beach, last night took his hat off, if nothing else, to the plan. "They must be mad," he said. "But I find it, to some extent, not an unattractive proposition and in principle I am not opposed."
Despite saying he did not think Aberdeen beach was a suitable location, Cllr Thomaneck confessed he had gone skinny dipping there in his students days "in the middle of the night and in the middle of summer" and that the water had been fine.
"I have most certainly not repeated the exercise recently," he said.
A spokeswoman for Aberdeen City Council said: "We have not received any inquiries regarding the designation of part of Aberdeen beach as a nudist beach but we would have consider any application through the appropriate procedures."