We can’t guarantee sunshine, but we have over 500-miles of coastline
to play with. Who’s coming for a swim?
Whether you’re already partial to swimming in the great outdoors or you’re preparing to take the plunge, the North Coast 500 is a playground of enchanting waterfalls, dreamy beaches and wildly beautiful lochs. The water certainly isn’t warm, but that’s the whole point!
The benefits of cold water exposure and ‘water wellness’ are more celebrated now than ever before. Braving the bracing temperatures can clear and calm the mind, increase circulation, reduce pain and inflammation, and boost the immune system. Once you get over the initial wee shock to the system, it’s also a lot of fun.
Here are our top tips and locations for wild swimming in and around the NC500. Go for a wee paddle, splash in the waves or get fully submerged, then enjoy the rush of endorphins – and a hot pie, maybe?
wild swimming tips for beginners
- Don’t swim alone – go in with a swim buddy!
- Check that it is safe to swim: gauge the depth, the flow and the tide before you enter the water. Look out for any hidden rocks or obstacles. There are lots of reviews and information online.
- Have a changing robe and/or warm, dry layers ready for when you get out the water: take a hot drink in a flask for chilly days.
- Go slow! Ease yourself into the water: allow your body to adjust and regulate your breathing.
- Stay close to the shore or at a depth that you can easily stand: decide on an exit route before you go in.
- Don’t stay in the water for too long: aim for no longer than 20-minutes and get out before you start shivering.
- Wear a brightly coloured swim cap or tow float to ensure you’re easy to spot.
north coast wet n wild
If you’re a wild swimming beginner or fancy a guided swim experience, North Coast Wet N Wild have got you covered. Based in remote Melness, these guys are the real-life merfolk of the Highlands, offering Open Water Coaching, Guided Adventure Swims and Cold Water Immersion Therapy at a number of stunning locations around our NC500 hood. The perfect opportunity to get started, improve your technique, and meet new people.
Dip your toe in before you even reach the North Coast 500 with a bonus swim stop on the drive north to Inverness. Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms National Park boasts a bonnie golden sand beach with a forest backdrop and mountain vistas: a uniquely Scottish scene for a quick dip!
dores beach, loch ness
Swimming in the world-famous Loch Ness is a bucket-list experience for many and this scenic spot is worth the mini-detour from Inverness before or after the NC500. Dores Beach on the south side of Loch Ness provides easy access to this mysterious body of water with views right up the full length of the loch. Excellent for monster spotting opportunities!
The loch has an average annual temperature of 5.5 degrees and never freezes over due to the sheer volume of water: 263 billion cubic feet to be precise!
big burn, golspie
The pretty village of Golspie is best known for the enchanting Dunrobin Castle and the most obvious swim spot is the sandy, shingly shores of Golspie Beach. Discover a lesser-known, in-land waterfall which is loved by full-time van-lifers and NC500 regulars, Gemma & Campbell from Highlands2Hammocks.
Big Burn is a hidden gorge just a short, scenic walk from the village. Minimal effort is rewarded with an epic waterfall and an inviting pool at the bottom to indulge in wee dip! Follow this route to get there.
Don’t even try to stop the inevitable “wow” escaping your lips upon sight of Achmelvich Beach. A single track roads leads to a paradise of perfect white sand and mesmerisingly clear water in shades of turquoise and bright blue. It is the absolute epitome of the renowned beaches in this area that we’re proud to call home.
When the post-swim hunger kicks in, Lochinver Larder is all but 4 miles away. Is there a better way to warm up than feasting on a deep-filled pie with buttery mash and tasty gravy? We don’t think so.