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1 September 2022

It’s hard to know where to start with this one. When planning my trip I always knew this was going to be special, and probably the highlight, but I was still nervous. Of course I knew that it was voted No 3 in Lonely Planet’s Top 20 Beaches in Europe in 2021. I knew that the Thai Tourist Board mistook a photo of West Beach for one of its own beaches in an advert. But I was still apprehensive in case it didn’t live up to expectations. After completing a wonderful circuit of the Udal Peninsula on North Uist, I was concerned about the encroaching heavy clouds so I knew I had to hotfoot it over the causeway to Berneray and get to West Beach pronto. A single track leads from Borve, the main village on the island, to a small parking area behind the south end of the beach. Approaching the gap in the dunes, it was time for a deep breath as I entered the beach for the first time. OMG. It’s hard to describe just how stunning West Beach really is. There were maybe a dozen people on the beach, which runs as far as the eye can see (about three miles) in more or less a straight line, with turquoise water to one side of the brilliant white sand, and high dunes on the other. It’s a classic Hebridean beach set-up, but there is something captivating about this place. And when the sun came out, and the blue skies opened up the vista, it was truly mesmerising. One of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. I walked along the sand for a good few miles, stopping frequently to, well, just stand in awe. And then I returned barefoot along the water’s edge. At the end, I climbed up onto the dunes to take in the full extent of what really is the Best Beach. It’s not hype. West Beach, Berneray is the one.