NC500 BEST BEACHES: OUR 6 TOP PICKS
The beaches on the NC500 are what gets everyone talking.
If you haven’t seen them for yourself, we can confirm that the rumours are all true. Ever those who have daydreamed over photos online of white sands and turquoise sea, are still awestruck on arrival.
“Is this really Scotland or is it a mirage?”
If these beaches were in the Mediterranean, they would be packed with people on sun loungers. That’s one thing we can thank the Scottish climate for! These beaches are a real treat on a sunny summers day, but their beauty can be appreciated in all seasons.
During the quiet months, a walk along the beach on a fresh, windy day is guaranteed to soothe the soul and make you feel alive. On the very edge of Scotland, with hardly another soul around, modern civilisation and all the stresses that come with it, are soon forgotten.
We are unashamedly biased about the actual north coast section of the 500-mile route, so it’s no surprise that this is where you’ll find our top 6 beaches. Let’s go!
One of the most popular and well-known beaches on the NC500; when you visit you’ll understand why. Achmelvich is beach perfection, resembling a scene from more tropical lands; until the Scottish weather and water temperature remind you otherwise! If you’re yet to try wild swimming, this picturesque spot would be a great place to start. Discover a ruined watermill and a tiny castle on the walk to Alltan'abradhan.
- View the walking route here
- Driving distance from Lochinver Larder: 3.7 miles
Located in our home area of Assynt, we obviously have a soft spot for this beach. Clachtoll Beach is small and stunningly formed with mountain views thrown in to enhance the already super-scenic display. Look out for Clachtoll’s famous geological feature, Split Rock; one of the many sights included in the North West Highlands Geopark. Take a short walk from the beach to the remnants of An Dùn Iron Age broch.
- View the walking route to the broch here
- Driving distance from Lochinver Larder: 5.5 miles
One of the most remote beaches in Scotland, the wildly gorgeous Sandwood Bay is characterised by pink-tinged sand, grassy dunes, and waves rolling towards the shore for over 2 miles. In the distance, the Am Buachaille sea stack is a striking sight to behold. After a long walk through bleak moorland, Sandwood Bay emerges like a paradise oasis, with a rough Scottish edge. Is the 8-mile round trip worth it? You better believe it!
- View the walking route from Blairemore to Sandwood Bay here
- Driving time for Lochinver: 45.5 miles (to Blairmore)
A wide, sweeping arch of white sand extends upwards into the Pentland Firth on a narrow peninsula at the northern tip of Scotland. Balnakeil Beach backs onto impressive sand dunes and the sea greets the shore in many shades of turquoise and blue. Make an afternoon of it, and walk right out to Faraid Head, passing the 1950s radar station along the way. Puffins can be spotted here during the summer months.
- View the walking route to Faraid Head here
- Driving distance from Lochinver Larder: 53.3 miles
Hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the UK (surely the world?) Sango Bay in Durness has the ‘wow’ factor from the first moment you set your eyes upon it; from the cliffs and steep dunes, to the smooth sand, scattered rocks and crystal clear waters. Snaking out onto a rocky outcrop, the wooden walkway to Sango Bay Viewpoint is as Insta-famous as the flawless beaches below. Don’t forget to visit Smoo Cave, a short distance along the coast, while you’re there.
- Driving distance from Lochinver Larder: 52.3 miles
This inviting, mile-long stretch of golden sand can be seen from Bettyhill on the other side of the River Naver. The walk from Invernaver to the beach is a mini adventure in itself and your efforts will be rewarded with a gorgeous beach, ruins of an Iron Age broch, and the chance to spot sea otters and the local seal colony. The tide and position on the river make Torrisdale Bay a popular spot for surfing and salmon fishing.
- View the walking route to the beach here
- Driving distance from Lochinver Larder = 93.5 miles