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Beaches in Summer in Scotland

A Beach Break in Scotland

Picture Scotland and you'll think of rugged highlands, historic cities and the Loch Ness. But this beautiful country is also home to some of the most scenic beaches in Great Britain, with quiet stretches of untouched sand that wouldn't look out of place in a Caribbean holiday brochure.

As more and more travelers forgo a pricey family holiday in Europe for a 'staycation' or slightly more unusual beach break, Scotland's untamed and un-touristy shores make a refreshing alternative.

It's not just the absence of the Euro that makes Scotland a bargain holiday choice - it's easy to find cheap accommodation close to the beach, with a choice of quaint bed-and-breakfasts, campsites by the sea and several Scotland hostels to choose from.


The most north-westerly village in mainland Britain, Durness is blessed with clean and safe sandy beaches, in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Drive down a single track road to this untouched paradise, and you'll find soaring cliffs and deep caves, great golf courses and historic settlements.

Where to Stay

Durness is a small parish made up of several small hamlets, quiet, secluded and maintaining Celtic traditions. There's a wide range of accommodation close to the beach, and whilst wild camping is discouraged, Sango Sands Oasis is a caravan park and camping ground close to the beach and golf course.

There are only three hotels in Durness, and a handful of B&Bs and guesthouses close to Smoo Cave, a huge sea cave cloaked in myth and legend. The setting for stories of Smuggler and Murderers, today you can take a boat trip to the cave's heart.

Just along the coast from Durness, Thurso has a Backpacker's hostel, and is a slightly larger town with more amenities.

The Beaches

Most of the beaches are a walk along the coast from the main village of Durness. Balnakeil Beach is a sandy bay of dunes surrounded by grassland, and a brilliant place to watch the sun set. Sango Beach is a more well-known beach, popular with families or try the beaches along the coast from Smoo Cave for a truly remote stretch of sand.

What to Do

Part of Durness's appeal is its remote location and small town feel - a couple of food shops, one pub and a petrol station are the only marks of modern civilization here. But there's plenty to do after you've explored the remote beaches and wild sand dunes.

Take a ferry to Cape Wrath and watch the puffin colonies congregate on the rocky shore, tee off amongst the rough heather at Durness Golf Course, or visit Balnakeil Craft Village, a Second World War military camp that has been transformed into a hub for local artists, who sell local arts and crafts.

There are several relics littered along the shoreline, from stone circles and 8th century Christian settlements, to the crofts at Laid used to house people cleared from the Highlands in the 1800s.

How to Get There

The easiest way to get to Durness's beaches is by reaching Inverness, which is accessible by bus, air and rail, and then taking the scenic two hour car drive through the Highlands. Inverness is a beautiful city in its own right, perched over the River Ness, and the Caledonian Canal and Fort George are well worth a visit. There are plenty of cheap hostels in Inverness if you need break up the journey.