Scotland’s best hidden beach

Green grasses and dunes, clear blue water and a two kilometer long beach that seems so untouched that it almost has a pink shine to it. Sandwood Bay in Scotland is one of the most beautiful beaches of the United Kingdom, but hardly anyone knows! 

Imagine a crescent-shaped piece of paradise, surrounded by colossal reefs that flank the beach on both sides and disappear in the sea. I’m sure several beaches match this idyllic description, but the best part about Sandwood Bay is that you can’t get there without making an effort.

The five mile walk

You can find this hidden beach in the northwest of Scotland, somewhere inbetween Durness and Kinlochverbie. Leave your car behind a couple of miles northwest of Kinlochverbieat, at the carpark in Blairmore: this is where the road ends and the walkway begins. It takes you about 5 miles (7km) to get all the way to Sandwood bay. Why bother? Well, because many others don’t! A lot of people decide to turn back after 2 or 3 miles. They think the beach itself will be as ordinary as the way to it, but they’re wrong. Besides, there are worse places to be than here, surrounded by bright green fields and little lochs that color the horizon now and then. It’s only at the end though, after you reach the top of a big rocky formation, that nature’s true beauty reveals itself. Beach in sight and not one single soul out there! Well, expect for the sheep, they are numerous but they’re minding their own business from a distance.

a = Am Buachaille – b = Cape Wrath. c = Blairmore © Google Maps
The pathway to Sandwood Bay.


Beach in sight after a final climb
Very peaceful and quiet!
The only prints that are left behind, are from birds…
… and sheep

Things to do at Sandwood Bay

Climb the surrounding rocks for magnificent views, walk along the shore or have a seat in the sand to look the sea right in the eye. Or go on a treasure hunt! According to a legend, a Spanish galleon stranded just off the coast here, during a storm. The ship lost its cargo, including a great treasure that, some say, is still hidden somewhere in the dunes. And of course, no treasure without a ghost: the drowned sailor is said to keep an eye on things. He wanders around and can be seen during storms. Hard to believe, although an unexpected rain storm  – and there are plenty hitting Scotland’s west coast – can be pretty spooky!

Things to see at Sandwood Bay

There’s Cape Wrath in the north: this is the most northwestern tip of Scotland. On a clear day you can see the bright reflections of the lighthouse on the cape from Sandwood bay. On the other side, you can admire a real masterpiece of nature: am Buachaille (‘the shepherd in Gaelic’), a sandstone rock that proudly protrudes above the foaming waves. The giant rock is 65 meters high and a popular obstacle for professional climbers as you can see in this Youtube movie. Oh, and did I mention there are lots of sheep?

Cape Wrath in the distance
‘Am Buachaille’.

In front of you: the ocean. Behind you: the dunes.
The skeleton of a whale that stranded here in 2008
10 minutes after I took this photo, it started pouring rain! That’s the UK for you 😉
After the sky cleared, we headed back.
  • Anonymous

    Wow, dat was de wandeling meer dan waard! Sandwood Bay, de dingen waar je moeite moet voor doen geven altijd de beste voldoening hee.

  • kristofpattyn

    En zo anoniem is die anonieme commenter nu ook weer niet 😉

  • Ik was er 3 weken geleden. De wandeltocht naar Sandwood Bay op zich is al heel erg de moeite. Het uitgestrekte prachtige strand is werkelijk adembenemend mooi. In de buurt heb je ook het kleine strand in Achmelvich, een aanrader ook, alsook Stoer Lighthouse. In elk geval: NoordWest – Schotland is prachtig. Zeker ook de GlenCoe area bezoeken, Loch Lomond, Loch Leven, Durness en alle leuke dorpjes “onder weg”. Met de Harley is het nog aardiger 🙂

  • érg monotoon zou ik de wandeling toch niet noemen.
    Hier enkele andere foto’s van het Noorden van Schotland:

    (meer volgen later na nieuwe toers:))

  • Leuke foto’s Phico! De wandeling was mij zeker niet teveel hoor maar het echte hoogtepunt komt in elk geval op het einde 🙂 Achmelvich is alvast genoteerd!

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  • Outstanding photos of a magical place. I especially love the one of the sheep. 🙂

  • Amazing Blog,Keep going,Regards

  • Fabulous location, thanks for the information and the lovely series of images. I’ll be visiting later this year to photograph the sea stack.

    • Thanks a lot Simon. Let me know when your pictures on the sea stack are posted, would love to see those!

  • This is an excellent post about Sandwood – I took the very same trip several years ago and was fortunate enough to be graced with some magnificent weather with the tide out – it was sublime – you though have added some interesting facts to encourage me to return and perhaps wildcamp to catch a sunrise

  • Ik herinner mij dat mooie strand nog ! Ergens in het pre-digitale tijdperk. We waren onderweg, zijn niet gestopt maar dachten toch: Wat een mooi strand. Had het aan een warme zee gelegen, dat kon je hier op de koppen lopen.