Your browser is no longer supported. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

20 April 2023

I wouldn’t have been the first person to visit the north west Highlands with Sandwood Bay on my mind. Often hailed as the best and most beautiful beach in (mainland) UK, it’s one of those bucket list experiences everyone should try at least once. In fact, almost everyone does in the height of summer. There’s a sign in the window of a holiday cottage at the start of the 4-mile trail to the beach that says ‘Hippies use side entrance’ which gives you an idea of how this place is viewed as a kind of spiritual pilgrimage in the summer months. But on this beautiful, cloudless morning in April I was the only person in the car park, on the trail and on the beach itself, which made it extra special. The beach car park at the village of Blairmore is large and well maintained but there is still the 6.5km hike to the beach and I think it’s this remoteness that makes Sandwood so attractive. It takes effort to reach but with each step the anticipation increases and I’m sure that adds to the impact when at last the beach comes into view. To be honest, I really enjoyed the track to the beach. The largely flat, brown moorland landscape and picturesque tarns reminded me of parts of the Lake District, where I cut my walking teeth, but it’s the last stretch which really packs a punch.  The bracken gives way to lush green grazing pasture and deep rolling dunes. My heart quickened and my pace increased as the beach was revealed with an almost magnetic force, and only then does the scale and beauty of this place unveil itself. It’s only about a mile wide but this bay has a mystique about it. And when you’re the only person on the beach it feels like you’re a million miles away from humanity. Only when you head towards the shoreline does the iconic sea stack Am Buachaille (the Herdsman) come into view to the south. I walked the length of the beach, and back to the path before reluctantly making the return trip. Only now did I pass fellow devotees making their way to have their own personal experiences of this wonderful bay. Thanks go to the John Muir Trust, which does a superb job to protect and preserve the bio-diversity of the bay and the surrounding area. One of the reasons I started this project was to experience moments of ‘awe’ – a feeling that’s hard to describe but you know when you’ve felt it.  You feel it at Sandwood Bay. In spades.