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12 Amazing photos of Scotland’s coasts

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Are you looking for a relaxing coastal break by the water, but don’t know where to go? Let us inspire you with these amazing images of Scotland’s coast. From beach pictures on the west coast to campsites on the east coast, there are thousands of amazing places to visit on a coastal break in Scotland. So, let’s start narrowing dow n those options for your next break?

Get more information on the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 and don’t forget to share your adventures with us using #YCW2020.

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West coast, Scotland

Calgary Bay, Mull

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Calgary itself is a tiny settlement on the west coast of Mull. But even the smallest villages can have the biggest and best landscapes. Head through the quiet glen and it’ll open up amongst low dune and machair into Calgary Bay, one of the finest beaches in Scotland.

The larger Inner Hebridean island of Mull is also home to the charming town of Tobermory, a great base for a short break. Wander amongst the coloured houses and independent businesses, go wildlife spotting and visit the nearby islands of Iona and Staffa.

Plan a break to Mull.

 

Dunure Castle, Ayrshire

Dunure Castle sitting on the cliffs over the beach in south Ayrshire

Dunure Castle, south Ayrshire

You’ll find this spot on the west coast of Scotland, 5 miles south of Ayr in Ayrshire. Dunure is a small fishing village which might look familiar if you’re a fan of Outlander – the harbour, beach and castle were all used in season 3.

The ruined castle was once the main fortress of the powerful Kennedy family, who are now more closely associated with Culzean, sitting 4 miles further down the coast.

On a break to this area, check out Electric Brae – an optical illusion which makes it look as if your car is going uphill, when it’s actually rolling downhill! There’s also Heads of Ayr Farm Park which is a great day out to see the animals, and try out lots of unusual activities including bumper boats and jumping pillows!

Plan a break to Dunure.

 

East coast, Scotland

Cullen, Moray Speyside

Looking out over the houses of Cullen Bay to the viaduct, Moray Speyside

Cullen Bay, Moray Speyside © North East 250 / Damian Shields

Cullen is another of Scotland’s beautiful seaside resorts, which looks out across the Moray Firth. You’ll find it in the north east of the country, to the east of Inverness. And yes, it gave its name to our famous Scottish fish soup – Cullen Skink.

There’s lots of nearby walks to explore the gorgeous landscapes. Look out for colourful fishing cottages, winding streets, the viaduct, beautiful stretches of sand, the ‘Three Kings’ rock stack and other formations, and maybe even some dolphins.

Check out more views from Castle Hill, a brilliant viewpoint and beauty spot brought back to life by a two-year community project.

Plan a short break to Cullen and Moray Speyside.

 

Lossiemouth, Moray Speyside

The sun setting behind Covesea Lighthouse at Lossiemouth, Moray Speyside

Covesea Lighthouse at Lossiemouth, Moray Speyside

Not far from Cullen, and just outside of the town of Lossiemouth is Covesea Lighthouse, which is now run by the local community and opened for pre-booked tours.

Lossiemouth is a town home to not one, but two sandy beaches with dunes, all surrounded by beautiful quiet countryside. Spend your break enjoying leisurely walks in different directions, or take advantage of the water and go sailing, on a boat ride to spot dolphins, or try out some watersports. Learn more about the town’s heritage at the tiny Fisheries Museum.

Plan a short break to Lossiemouth.

 

St Monans, Fife

St Monans Harbour, Fife

St Monans Harbour, Fife

This is the smallest of the East Neuk fishing villages – St Monans sits with Anstruther, Crail, Elie, Pittenweem and Kingsbarns on the south east edge of Fife. All have a long history around fishing, and you can still see today the original harbours, traditional buildings and way of life.

It’s easy to explore St Monans and the other villages of the East Neuk, as the Fife Coastal Path runs through this corner of Fife. Look out for the 18th century St Monans Windmill, and the ruins of Newark Castle.

Plan a break to the East Neuk.

 

North Berwick, East Lothian

North Berwick harbour, East Lothian

North Berwick harbour, East Lothian

Just half an hour from Edinburgh, and you’re in a little seaside town with amazing views, birdlife and ruined castles. North Berwick has an amazing beach with views out to Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth, the world’s largest northern gannet colony. Head to the 5-star Scottish Seabird Centre to find out more.

Nearby Tantallon Castle and Dirleton Castle are well worth a trip, but head back to North Berwick for the independent eateries and shops. You can even take to the water yourself with watersports or a local boat tour.

Plan a break to East Lothian.

 

St Abbs, Scottish Borders

The road and houses at the harbour of St Abbs, Scottish Borders

St Abbs, Scottish Borders

This southern Scotland spot is another pretty fishing village with a stunning setting, surrounded by fishermen’s cottages, jagged cliffs and views out for miles.

St Abbs takes its name from a seventh century Northumbrian princess who struggled ashore after being shipwrecked. You don’t need to go to such lengths to get here though, it’s just a simple drive east from Edinburgh.

Explore St Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve and the 200 acres of wild and rugged coastline of cliffs, filled with curious seabirds.

Plan a break to St Abbs and the Scottish Borders.

 

North coast, Scotland

Duncansby Stacks, John O’Groats, Caithness

The rock formations of the Duncansby Stacks by the cliffs and sea, near John O'Groats

Duncansby Stacks, near John O’Groats

Beaches are beautiful but throw in some dramatic, interesting rocks and you’ve got a view you won’t forget in a long time. Near the northernmost mainland village of John O’Groats are the Duncansby Stacks, two large jagged sea stacks, and the Thirle Door, a rock arch.

You’ll find them at Duncansby Head, the true northern point of the mainland, marked by an impressive lighthouse and views out north to Orkney and west back to the village and Dunnet Head. But venture a little bit further over the high ground to find the Geo of Sclaites, a huge cleft in the cliffs filled with seabirds, and finally, the rock formations of Duncansby.

This part of Scotland has become much more well-known thanks to the North Coast 500 but it’s definitely worth a longer break than just passing through. The beauty of the coastal beaches continues far and wide, there’s brochs and ruined castles to explore, and hills and ancient steps to climb.

Plan a break to Caithness.

 

South coast, Scotland

Mull of Galloway, Dumfries & Galloway

Looking out over the cliffs to the sea at the Mull of Galloway, Dumfries & Galloway

Mull of Galloway, Dumfries & Galloway © Visit South West Scotland / Damian Shields

From the most northerly point to the most southerly, the Mull of Galloway. The peninsula is part of the Rhins of Galloway, a peaceful area of countryside, sandy beaches, cliffs and stunning views.

Spend a day walking along the coast, and look out for dolphins, porpoises and seabirds. It’s a really interesting spot for gardens – the area actually has a warm climate, so it’s not unusual to find a palm tree or two!

Don’t miss the Mull of Galloway Experience itself. Climb 115 steps to the top of Scotland’s most southerly lighthouse, check out the Lighthouse exhibition in the old engine room and take a walk to the Foghorn and viewing platform. Find out more about the local birdlife at the RSPB visitor centre and reserve, and grab coffee at Gallie Craig Coffee House.

Plan a trip to the Mull of Galloway.

 

Islands, Scotland

Lerwick, Shetland

Looking down over Lerwick, Shetland

Lerwick, Shetland

The capital of the Shetland islands looks pretty good from above, but it’s just as fascinating from the ground! If you’re a fan of crime fiction, you’ll probably recognise at least one building from the BBC series, Shetland, but every traditional harbour building, town lane and sandstone property has a certain charm.

The town has an outstanding Museum and Archives with an art gallery, as well as lots of independent shops, and the entertainment venue, Mareel. It is also the perfect base for exploring further, with the must-visit attractions of Jarlshof and Mousa Broch, landscapes such as St Ninian’s Isle and Sumburgh Head, and other hidden gems like boat museums, knitwear shops and delicious food and drink producers.

Plan a break to Lerwick.

 

Camas Daraich, Skye

Right at the far south of Skye, if you follow a track and a path from the end of the public road at Aird of Sleat, you’ll find Camas Daraich. It’s one of the best places on the island to spend a sunny day but it’s definitely worth a look whatever the weather.

This part of the island – the Sleat peninsula – is often referred to as ‘the garden of Skye’. Admire and explore the violet, heather-clad mountains, rocky shorelines and sandy beaches, and dense forests. Drop into some of the castles, find out more in the Museum of the Isles, and browse local crafts and culture in the galleries and shops.

Plan a break to Sleat and Skye.

Northton, Harris, Outer Hebrides

If you’re going to treat yourself to some alone time, why not go all out and take a whole beach to yourself? Check out Northton Beach on Harris in the Outer Hebrides, a part of the world full of beautiful unspoilt beaches.

Harris makes up the south of the main island in the Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland. Follow the Golden Road for a glimpse of the rich history that has shaped this island’s identity with Norse and Gaelic influences. Explore the popular village of Tarbert and stop into the Isle of Harris Distillery.

Plan a break to Harris.

What’s your favourite spot for a coastal break in Scotland? Share your ideas and pictures with us in the iKnow Community, or on social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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