Edinburgh (26/05 – 33.33) With summer in Scotland quickly approaching, it’s time to start planning those days out and trips to make the most of your holidays.
Ideas for beach walks, picnics and foodie experiences will be in high demand with people looking to make the most of the sunshine.
With that in mind, Venture North, the destination management organisation that promotes responsible tourism in Caithness and Sutherland, has selected its ‘Top 5 beach walks for foodies’ in 2022.
The beaches in the far north of Scotland around Sutherland and Caithness are some of the cleanest, most scenic and most Instagram-able in the country, offering visitors miles of open spaces to relax, refresh and look after their wellbeing all year-round.
Combining delicious food and drink with fresh sea air and golden sands, here are five amazing beach walks with top restaurants close by to check out.
The River Bothy and 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.
Overlooking the bay, the shingle beach is sheltered by craggy cliffs and the perfect spot for wildlife fans with plenty of opportunities to spot sea birds and the resident seals.
Sitting on the north bank of the Berriedale River, just off the A9 and the NC500 route, The River Bothy is a welcome escape where people can enjoy the very best quality fresh food, drinks and cakes in a characterful and relaxing setting.
Here you can enjoy genuine, home-made food and sample some of the finest coffees and speciality teas.
Pop in for breakfast, morning coffee, lunch or afternoon tea. A take-away food service is also available, including sandwiches and light lunches to enjoy outside.
No 1 Bistro at Mackays Hotel and 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. If you’re lucky you might even spot the occasional orca.
Located by the river Wick and Wick harbour, Mackays Hotel’s No 1 Bistro has 1 AA Rosette and 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 and 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 the wildlife, geology and history of the beach, whilst cows graze next to sunbathers.
Set amid one of the last great unspoiled wildernesses in Europe, the 2 AA Rosette Inver Lodge Hotel offers visitors a tranquil retreat of outstanding natural beauty and excellent cuisine at one of the best hotels in the Highlands.
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 and 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 beach south of the harbour 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, clear 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 and Sandwood Bay Beach, Sutherland
Reputedly the most beautiful and most remote beach in the UK, the wild and spectacular Sandwood Bay in Kinlochbervie is backed by huge sand dunes and a loch. Facing straight into the North Atlantic, the beach has nearly 1.5 miles of wide pink sand which is flanked by cliffs.
To the south stands the impressive sea stack of Am Buachaille, while 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.
Meat at Smoo Lodge is supplied by local farm butchers, fish from Scrabster and local fresh lobster and crab provided by David Thompson, who fishes out of Rispond; hand-dived Loch Eriboll scallops are supplied by Stuart and Billy, who work out 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.