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Sandwood Bay – One of Scotland’s Spectacular Remote Beaches

World Travel

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Sandwood Bay in Sutherland






Sutherland is a county located in the highlands of Scotland.
It has a rugged landscape and a very low population base.
Sandwood Bay is a remote area which is reached on foot by way of rough trekking.
The scenery in Sutherland, with its’ high cliffs where the mountains meet the sea, is one of
the most beautiful coastal regions in Europe.
Sutherland derives its’ name from the Norwegian Viking era when it was under the rule of the Jarl of Orkney.


 Sandwood Bay in Sutherland, which sits on the North Coast 500 route and is famous for its imposing sea stack and its ghost stories, has topped organic searches for beaches on – both among Scottish residents and among potential visitors from the rest of the UK.


It is the only beach mentioned by name in the top-ten list of organic searches, averaging 1,000 searches a month in the UK (not including Scotland). The terms “Scottish beaches” and “beaches in Scotland” are in second place with 260 searches.

The research forms part of VisitScotland’s new Insight paper, Coastal Tourism in Scotland, which is published today and which reveals the industry is worth £323 million to the economy.


The paper also shows that Scottish beaches are hugely popular among Londoners, with more than a quarter (27.6 per cent) of internet searches outside Scotland originating in the UK capital.

Among other findings of Coastal Tourism in Scotland are:

  • Coastal locations in Scotland are most popular among visitors from the North West/Merseyside, who take an average of 108,000 trips each year
    • 35 to 44-year-olds enjoy more coastal visits than any other demographic, with 378,000 trips and £76 million spend per year
    • Self-catering properties are the most popular form of accommodation among domestic holidaymakers, generating 582,000 trips a year
    • The west of Scotland generates the largest number of domestic seaside trips, with an average of 612,000 trips a year, generating £112 million in spend

There has been a steady increase in domestic tourism at Scottish seaside locations since 2010. Between 2010 and 2014, domestic trips increased by 6 per cent to an average of 1.5 million trips, while spend went up 9 per cent to £323 million.


Part of the Sandwood Estate run by the John Muir Trust, Sandwood Bay is one of the most unspoilt beaches in mainland Britain. It has no road access but can be reached by a four-mile path from the hamlet of Blairmore.

Before the lighthouse at nearby Cape Wrath was built, Sandwood Bay saw a number of shipwrecks and, according to legend, doomed sailors haunt the site.

Facing west into the Atlantic, Sandwood Bay is also highly regarded among beach break surfers.

Thurso-based surfer Mark Boyd, who has competed around the world as a member of the Scottish National Surfing Team, said: “There aren’t many west-facing beaches on the Scottish mainland so Sandwood Bay is a great spot for surfing in the summer months, where you don’t find many good waves elsewhere, because it is exposed to the swell of the Atlantic. The quality of the waves at Sandwood Bay is really high and compares to some of the best beach breaks in France.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:
“Scotland boasts an incredible coastline with some of the finest beaches in the world, with seaside breaks playing a vital role in the country’s visitor economy. Our Coastal Tourism in Scotland paper gives a fascinating insight into who visits our beaches, and why. It is no surprise that the beautiful and mysterious Sandwood Bay captures the imagination of so many people around Britain, but its majesty can only be truly appreciated at first hand.”

Don O’Driscoll, Sandwood and Quinag Property Manager for the John Muir Trust, said:
“Sandwood Bay is breathtakingly beautiful, and most people who visit don’t get many chances to experience a wild place like this. There’s also the sense of achievement people get from the long walk in, a walk rewarded with a panorama of sea, cliff stacks and a pristine beach. Of course, there’s also the wildlife that makes this a designated site, the Machair sand dunes, the larks singing, the gannets diving. Put simply, it’s a magical place the Trust is proud to take care of for the benefit of everyone.”

To view VisitScotland’s new Insight paper, Coastal Tourism in Scotland, please visit:


[Source: VisitScotland-Media Relations]
[Photo credits-featured image: Sandwood Bay, Highlands, Scotland – By Wojsyl (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons]
[Intext photos: inserted by (credits embedded)]


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