With a long and stunning coastline, visitors to Scotland are spoilt for choice of where to go and what to see. The North Coast 500 is a great route to follow, especially by bicycle, and because much of it journeys close to the coast, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take time out for a walk to see a beautiful beach, or two, or three...
Here is our choice of some of the best beach walks on the NC500.
The beach at Clashnessie Bay. Credit: Oliver Dixon /Creative Commons
7 top beaches on the North Coast 500
Melvich beach. Credit: Chris Heaton / Creative Commons
A short walk of only a mile – and with very little ascent and descent – takes you to Melvich Beach on Scotland's north coast. Take a track signposted for the beach from the A896, to the west of Thurso.
Melvich is a fabulous and unspoilt stretch of sand, with Portskerra pier to one side and the cliffs below Rubha an Tuir to the other side.
Stunning Sandwood Bay. Credit: Fionaoutdoors.co.uk
A longer walk of eight miles (return) with 150m of ascent is well worth the effort to reach the wildly spectacular Sandwood beach. Follow a rough path from Blairmore, in north-west Sutherland.
It’s often claimed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the UK and extends to a mile of pristine sand, edged by the Atlantic Ocean and backed by dunes and cliffs. An extra feature is the huge sea stack, Am Buachaille, that lies just off the beach.
Mellon Udrigle Beach
Sheep grazing above Mellon Udrigle beach. Credit: Valenta / Creative Commons
Mellon Udrigle, in Wester Ross, is another stunning white sandy beach boasting superb views of high mountains. The sand is backed by dunes and grassland and framed by rocky promontories. You can reach the beach on a walk of around 2.5 miles and some 100m of ascent
Oldshoremore beach. Credit: Tom Richardson / Creative Commons
A five-mile circular walk with some 160m of total ascent rewards with not one but three sandy beaches, divided by rugged headlands. There is a car park in the tiny hamlet of Oldshoremore, near Kinlochbervie in Sutherland, where the walk starts.
Clashnessie Falls. Credit: Adrian Russell / Flickr creative commons
Another Sutherland gem is Clashnessie Bay. It is one of the few beaches in the other-worldly landscape of the Assynt area that faces north.
There is the added bonus of the 1.5 mile walk: Clashnessie Falls, which are some 15 metres high and best seen when there has been some decent rainfall.
Clachtoll beach. Credit: IrenicRhonda / Flickr Creative Commons
Staying in Sutherland, Clachtoll beach is a short walk from a car park in the hamlet. Clachtoll is located north of Lochinver, which is also a lovely village that would merit a visit.
The beach is a stunning white sand and there is an iron-age broch, An Dùn, to see.
Red Point Beach
Red Point South Beach at low tide. Credit: Valenta / Creative Commons
Red Point beach is located near to Gairloch on Scotland’s north-west coast and has two sandy beaches backed by dunes with wonderful island views. The larger beach gets it name from a reddy coloured sand.
A circuit to visit both beaches extends to about 3 miles with some 100m of total ascent.
Find out more: To see more details of many of theses beach walks check out Walk Highlands.
Cycle the NC500: If you want to know more about our North Coast 500 cycling packages, please do get in contact. We can also give you plenty more tips about what to see and visit while you are cycling the iconic Scottish route.