Top 5: Beaches in Scotland

It’s March. It’s Scotland. We are by the North Sea. Only days ago we had snow. We have not yet been able to model our fully varied scarf collection. Despite all of this, for some inexplicable reason, when the sun shines in St Andrews a “beach walk” is immediately back on the agenda. If, however, the appeal of West Sands is wearing thin, why not take advantage of Spring Break and check out some of the other beautiful beaches Scotland has to offer – after all, the (partially) sunny weather won’t be around forever.

 Way out West: Machrihanish, Mull Of Kintyre

The West Coast isn’t just about Glasgow and funny accents. This four mile curved beach at the end of the Mull of Kintyre peninsula is considered one of the best surfing spots in Scotland – in the summer months, nearby campsites are inundated with Indie crowds that would make Taste look mainstream. If you’re more Old Course than board shorts, fear not – you can tee off at the Machrihanish classic links golf course and then relax in the luxurious Ugdale Hotel.

 Way up North: Sandwood Bay, Sutherland

Consistently named one of the best beaches in Scotland (and the UK), this is the definition of a hidden gem. Only accessible from a 4 mile footpath, this remote setting in one of the northern most points of Scotland hides a secretly stunning, spotless and unspoilt stretch of white sands. The unique idyll of this untouched coastline has been romanticised over the years, attracting many visitors fascinated by its tales of mermaids, shipwreck, ghosts and… collie dogs? (Loch Ness Monster, eat your heart out.)

 By the Capital: North Berwick, East Lothian

This summer family favourite may not seem like a first choice for students. But, situated just across the Firth of Forth, North Berwick offers a real ‘seaside’ experience: yes, I’m talking strolling along the prom accompanied by brass bands in grandstands. Picture ice cream vans, sandcastles, putting courses, and fish and chips: your perfectly British day out by the sea. And if that’s not touristy enough for you, you could even try some bird-spotting at the seabird centre or take a boat trip around the famous Bass Rock.

 Nice Wee Island: Kiloran Bay, Isle of Colonsay

Colonsay, one of the smaller Western Isles, is yet to star in a children’s TV series so remains blissfully less commercialised than some of the larger islands. Kiloran Bay, on the north western side of the island, is a serene crescent of golden sand and an Instagrammer’s dream. And those pictures could get even more ‘Likes’ if you climb Carnan Eoin for a view of the whole bay and across the sea to Islay and Jura.

 Round the Corner: Elie, Fife

If taking a ferry wasn’t really what you had in mind for this weekend, keep things closer to home and head round the coast to Elie. The beach itself is one of only five Blue Flag beaches in Scotland, meaning it’s not only eco-friendly but also a beautiful spot to relax. If you’re feeling more adventurous there are an array of watersports on offer or you could even have a go at the famous Elie Chainwalk– this half kilometre stretch will see you literally hugging the cliffs from up to 10 metres above sea level. Not for the faint-hearted – but sure makes a change from West Sands…


Images by Vickie Ransbottom, Kevin Gallagher and Ruoting Tao.