lso aStrap on your walking boots and bring your appetite for these Scottish beach walks with nearby cafes
As the days get longer and temperatures start to rise, it’s time to plan your summer adventures filled with Scottish beach walks, picnics and alfresco dining experiences in the fresh, salty air.
The beaches in the far north of Scotland are above all some of the cleanest, most scenic and most Instagram-able in the country. They offer visitors miles of open spaces to relax and unwind.
The beaches around Dornoch, Golspie and Brora, for instance, are easily accessible, but also surprisingly secluded. Sinclair’s Bay to the North of Wick is well known for its wide sweep, while the beaches of the North Coast around John O’Groats and Murkle are perfect for beachcombing.
Dunnet Bay and Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on the British mainland, is a dramatic and beautiful bay, while Thurso’s incredibly fast reef and beach breaks attract world-class surfing competitions and fans from all over the world. West of Thurso the landscape gives way to a more rugged, wild moorland scene, but the beaches are some of the most romantically beautiful in Europe, including Melvich and Bettyhill.
For the really adventurous, take the ferry crossing to the Cape Wrath area. The ultimate goal for the beach lover has to be Sandwood Bay, reputedly the most beautiful and most remote beach in the UK.
Top Scottish Beach Walks For Foodies – Far North
The River Bothy & Berridale Beach, Caithness
On the most North-Eastern part of the North Coast 500, Berriedale is a small fishing village on the East coast of Caithness and is the most Southern village in the county before crossing into Sutherland. Craggy cliffs overlook the bay, making the shingle beach the perfect spot to look out for sea birds and resident seals.
Sitting on the north bank of the Berriedale River, just off the A9 and the NC500 route, The River Bothy is a little pocket of happiness where people can enjoy the very best quality fresh food, drinks and cakes in a characterful and relaxing setting.
Here you can enjoy genuine, homemade food and sample some of the finest coffees and speciality teas. Pop in for breakfast, morning coffee, lunch or afternoon tea. Take-away food service is also available, including sandwiches and light lunches to enjoy outside.
No 1 Bistro at Mackays Hotel & Sinclair’s Bay, Caithness
Sinclair’s Bay, known locally as Reiss Beach is a stunning white-sanded paradise with 16th-century castles at both ends. Sinclair’s Bay is a single large, white beach, split in half by a stream. With high cliffs behind and sand dunes, the south side of the beach is sheltered from the wind. The beach is peaceful and an attractive spot for surfing enthusiasts with a high-quality beach break. The area is a popular place to spot a variety of seabirds and marine life including seals and occasionally orcas.
Located by the river Wick and Wick harbour, Mackays Hotel’s No 1 Bistro has 1 AA Rosette. It celebrates the best local and seasonal Highland food and drink, including Mey Selections beef and lamb, Caithness Smokehouse and Scrabster Seafoods.
Mackays Hotel is located on Ebenezer Place, the world’s shortest street at just six feet, nine inches long.
Inver Lodge Hotel & Clachtoll Beach, Sutherland
Clachtoll Beach is a popular beach with some rugged terrain, including the Split Rocks.
With white sands and idyllic turquoise water, Clachtoll Beach is an unspoilt paradise in the Highlands. From the headlands at either end of the beach, there are stunning mountain views for miles around. The beach has a free car park and there is a ranger’s hut where you can learn about wildlife, geology and history.
Set amid one of the last great unspoiled wildernesses in Europe, you can find the 2 AA Rosette Inver Lodge Hotel. It offers visitors a tranquil retreat of outstanding natural beauty and excellent cuisine. From its hillside setting, the hotel looks down onto the quiet fishing village of Lochinver, and across the clear waters of the loch to the distant outline of the Western Isles.
Royal Marine Hotel & Brora Beach, Sutherland
Brora is lucky to have two excellent beaches with very different characteristics.
The beach north of the harbour is a long wide stretch of open sand, ready for swimming, sandcastles and kite flying. The south beach, on the other hand, has long rocky stretches of pools perfect for rock-pooling, exploring and seal watching.
Dolphins and other sea life such as harbour porpoises are often spotted in the bay and the beaches themselves play host to a wide variety of birdlife including gulls, cormorants, waders and the Arctic Tern, also known as Sea Swallow, which visits each summer.
Royal Marine Hotel in Brora is a great base for visitors to explore the golden east coast of Scotland. Breathe in the fresh, clean sea air when you arrive and wander along the empty strips of golden sand just five minutes away from the hotel. Listen to the waves crash against the shoreline and embrace the gentle pace of our coastal Highland village.
Smoo Lodge & Sandwood Bay Beach, Sutherland
Reputedly the most beautiful and most remote beach in the UK! Huge sand dunes back the wild and spectacular Sandwood Bay in Kinlochbervie. Facing straight into the North Atlantic, the beach has nearly 1.5 miles of wide pink sand.
To the south stands the impressive sea stack of Am Buachaille, which you can view from shore. And behind the bay’s large dunes stretches Sandwood Loch – a freshwater loch full of brown trout. The beach is considered to be one of the most unspoilt beaches in the whole of mainland Britain. This remote bay has no road access but can be reached by a four-mile, well-trodden and fairly flat path leading from the gravel car park at the hamlet of Blairmore.
The bay is part of the Sandwood Estate which is run by the John Muir Trust.
Smoo Lodge is an exclusive and stylish boutique B&B in a recently refurbished former 18th Century Sporting Lodge situated on the NC500, close to the sea and Smoo Cave. Overnight guests can enjoy delicious and hearty meals, with the emphasis always on quality, variety and healthy eating.
Local farm butchers supply the meat at Smoo Lodge. Fish come from Scrabster and local fresh lobster and crab are provided by David Thompson, who fishes out of Rispond. You can also try hand-dived Loch Eriboll scallops, supplied by Stuart and Billy, of Ard Neakie.
The owners of Smoo Lodge also grow some of their own salad leaves and herbs, forage, and source as much as possible from locally-based producers and suppliers, including Highland Charcuterie & Smokehouse, based in Oldshoremore. As a result, you’re can be sure of fresh, local produce at Smoo Lodge.
All items are subject to season and availability.