Sandwood Bay: A Spectacular Remote Beach on the NC500

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Sandwood Bay

Sandwood Bay, located in Kinlochbervie, is renowned for its beauty and spectacular, untouched wildness. The bay has a wide expanse of bright pink sand stretching for almost 1.5 miles, surrounded by dramatic cliffs on either side.

The iconic “Am Buachaille” sea stack stands watch to the south, while behind the vast sand dunes lies Sandwood Loch, an idyllic freshwater loch full of brown trout.

Described as one of the most pristine beaches in the UK, Sandwood Bay can only be accessed by foot through a 4-mile path that starts from Blairmore car park. This journey takes you through the beautiful countryside before leading to the magnificent bay.

Those who brave the journey to this secluded natural area are rewarded with breathtaking views and an unrivalled sense of tranquillity and peace, something that will stay with them long after leaving this special place and when back home after going around the North Coast 500.

If you’re up for the challenge to see the stunning beauty of Sandwood Bay, read on!

Oh and enjoy the photos. Lots of photos of this amazing place are below (and two videos just to make the point, its right up there as a place to be experienced when on the NC500)

How To Get To Sandwood Bay

Sandwood Bay is secluded far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and located on Scotland’s beautiful NC500 route.

To get to Sandwood Bay from anywhere, the easiest method of transportation is by car; it’s recommended to drive part of the renowned NC500, as you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Scotland’s magnificent scenery along the way.

Driving directions can vary depending on your starting location but usually involve taking an A838 in Scotland until you reach Sandwood Bay and park in Blairmore car park (Blairmore, Lairg IV27 4RT is what’s needed for the sat nav).

Then follow the 4×4 track all the way to Sandwood Bay.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Sandwood Bay

The best time to visit Sandwood Bay is generally during summer on a warmer day as it offers more insight into Sandwood Bay compared to winter when temperatures can drop below freezing.

Whatever time of year you plan on visiting Sandwood Bay, make sure to pack an extra layer with you, regardless, as Scottish weather can change at any moment!

What To Expect In Sandwood Bay

Untouched Beauty of Sandwood Bay

Sandwood Bay is a beautiful beach at the northwestern tip of Scotland, renowned for its untouched and unspoiled beauty. It boasts a stunning array of unique features, from soaring sand dunes to ancient sea stacks.

Sandwood Bay is especially popular among hikers and cyclists as it is part of the iconic NC500 route. Taking in the vast expanse of sandy beach and rugged cliff faces is an experience one should not miss.

The bay’s crystal blue waters, crashing waves, and white sand make it a star attraction among visitors from near and far, offering a memorable day out in one of the wildest corners of Scotland.

Wildlife at Sandwood Bay

Sandwood Bay is an incredible sight. But there’s more to it than just a beautiful beach.

Not only can visitors take in breathtaking views of sandy beaches and wild cliffs, but they will also have the opportunity to spot some amazing wildlife.

Red deer are often seen roaming around Sandwood Bay, while lucky travellers may have a chance to spot an otter or two as they forage for shellfish and small fish along the shoreline. Keep your eyes peeled – you never know what incredible creatures you could find!

Nearby hiking trails

Sandwood Bay Trail

Sandwood Bay is located on the northwest coast of Sutherland and follows a 9-mile path. Along this trail, hikers will experience some incredible sights, including Sandwood Loch, Sandwood Bay Beach, and Am Faochagach mountain.

The hike usually takes 4 to 5 hours to finish with moderate difficulty. The path is easy to follow. It starts as a wide gravel path that narrows as you progress. It is also initially flat, with a slight climb as you get closer to the beach. The last part of the path is kind of “find your own route” through the dunes.

Cape Wrath

The Cape Wrath Trail is a far more challenging adventure for those looking for something more intense! This 200-mile trek starts at Fort William and takes you up to the very north-western tip of Scotland, Cape Wrath, and you can expect rugged terrain on this journey with unforgiving weather conditions.

 Along the way, there are amazing coastal views, chances to spot wild animals and birds, and a sense of accomplishment when you reach your destination.

Sandwood Bay Video

In the video below you’ll see Sandwood Bay & beach by drone. It’s definitely worth the walk.

The History And Legends At Sandwood Bay

Sandwood Bay during the World War II

Sandwood Bay is a stunning stretch of coastline along the North Coast 500 in Scotland. Although it has become renowned for its beauty, Sandwood Bay has a captivating history that dates back to World War II when it played an important role in the D-Day landings.

During this time, Sandwood Bay was used as a training beach, and soldiers regularly practised heading off to the Normandy coastlines. Historians argue that Sandwood Bay was vital in acclimatising the Allied troops to landing on the French coast before they left for France on June 6, 1944, a day that would eventually lead to victory.

Sandwood Bay’s significant position in World War II will never be forgotten, and neither will its breathtaking views – which are now enjoyed by all who travel along Scotland’s picturesque Nc500 route each year.

The Mermaid at Sandwood Bay

One legend in Sandwood Bay is about a mermaid who was allegedly spotted on one of the two protruding rocks there a century ago.

Local farmer Alexander Gunn was looking for one of his sheep on the beach when his dog made a startling discovery. One individual, MacDonald Robertson, frequently recalled his meeting with Mr. Gunn in 1939.

He said that on January 5, 1900, his collie suddenly howled and cowered in fear at his feet. A figure lay on the rock face on a ledge above the tide. When he realised the hair was reddish-yellow, the eyes were greenish-blue, and the body was about 7 feet (2.1 metres) long, he realised it wasn’t a seal.

Alexander Gunn maintained that he had seen a mermaid of ravishing beauty up until the day he passed away in 1944, and his story never changed.

The Knocking Sailorman

Another legend surrounding Sandwood Bay is apparently about a shipwreck victim there. The spirit of a sailor is said to frequently bang on the windows of the old cottage (now a bothy) on stormy nights.

Before the Cape Wrath lighthouse was constructed in 1828, the harbour is said to have been the scene of numerous shipwrecks, all of which are still buried beneath the sand today. Author Seton Gordon walked here in the 1920s and saw many submerged wreckage in the sand.

He penned a book in 1935 titled “Highways & Byways in the West Highlands” where he said, “I was astounded at the number of wrecks which lie on the fine sand of this bay.” He also said, “All of them are old disasters because no ships have perished off Cape Wrath since a lighthouse was installed there just over a century ago. Some ships are almost completely submerged in the sand, far from the highest tide’s reach.”

Because Sandwood Bay had been used by the Vikings as a stopover location a thousand years earlier, he also made mention of the potential existence of Viking longboats interred there.

Where Are The Nearest Shops, Toilets, And Cafes?

There are no shops or cafes, but if you take the three-mile Sandwood Bay Road off the main coast road, you’ll find plenty of public toilets for convenience.

After your hike along Sandwood bay’s stunning coastline, why not head a little further north to Kinlochbervie? Here you can find a good selection of shops and restaurants to replenish and rest before heading off on your next journey.

Where To Stay Near Sandwood Bay?

Kinlochbervie Hotel (7.2 miles)

The Kinlochbervie Hotel is in one of the most beautiful spots on Scotland’s northwestern coast. It is a warm and friendly place to stay, and pets are welcome.

This family-run hotel looks out over the fishing harbour of Kinlochbervie and Loch Clash to the Minch. It also has a wide view over lochs and hills to the open sea. It’s a great place to stay to explore and enjoy this interesting area.

Self-Catering Holiday Caravans (5.7 miles)

The beautiful and quiet Self-catering Holiday Caravan is close to Kinlochbervie and is a great place to start a fishing or hiking trip in North West Sutherland.

They have two self-catering holiday caravans on private sites. Both of them have fantastic views of the sea. Each fixed caravan has its own fenced area with everything it needs.

No.125 B&B (5 miles)

The No.125 Bed and Breakfast is in the village of Kinlochbervie, which is 100 miles north of Inverness and 5 miles from the famous Sandwood Bay.

It’s a great place for birdwatchers, hillwalkers, cyclists, and anglers to enjoy the beautiful scenery that Kinlochbervie has to offer.

Can You Wild Camp At Sandwood Bay?

Yes! You can definitely wild camp at Sandwood Bay.

It’s recommended to camp at the far end of the beach to have the best view of Am Buachaille and also be close to the river for a dip if desired.

See the video below of wild camping at Sandwood Bay. For those of you wanting more “amenities”, see our NC500 accommodation directory.

Is Sandwood Bay Beach Dog Friendly?

Sandwood Bay in Sutherland will be at the top of your list of dog-friendly beaches in Scotland if you have an active dog who loves nothing more than a long wander and a run on the beach (and maybe in the sea too, oh and probably the loch, yes most likely the loch if they’re a water fur-baby).

This quiet stretch of sparkling pink sand can’t be reached by road, so your dog will have to be fit enough to walk the 4 miles it takes to get there. It’s worth the trouble, though, because when they see the aquamarine waves rolling in the distance, they’ll go crazy.

A Friendly Reminder: Be a responsible pet owner and always clean after your pets!

Where Should You Go Next?

If you’re going east…

Balnakeil Beach

Balnakeil Beach is a wide, white beach with big dunes. It is near Cape Wrath in the very north of Scotland.

Balnakeil Beach is a beautiful, clean beach that is big, easy to get to, and full of things to discover and learn. The sand dunes are the most obvious thing about this beautiful beach, and they are home to many different kinds of plants and animals. The sandy bay is in the shape of a crescent and faces west. This makes it a quiet and peaceful place to swim. People go to the beach to see beautiful sunsets.

Ceannabeinne Beach

Ceannabeinne Beach is a beautiful beach with white sand, rocky areas, and water that is as clear as glass.

The car park on the A838 is just a short walk from this dramatic beach with pink rock cliffs and a gentle slope. The beach used to be called Traigh Alt Chailgeag, which means “The beach of the burn of grief and death.”

This name comes from a story about a woman who fell into the burn and died. Her body was found on the beach. Pretty gruesome right? Don’t let that put you off!

From the beach, you can see the island of Eilean Hoan, which used to be a cemetery but is now a nature reserve, in a beautiful way. In 1814, Sir Walter Scot, a famous author, visited Ceannabeine. Built-in 1788, Rispond’s historic harbour is just a short walk up the hill from the beach.

If you’re going west…

Oldshoremore Beach

Oldshoremore is one of the most beautiful beaches in Sutherland. It was made from sandstone and seashells that were worn away over time.

This beach was featured in our recent post on the Top 19 Beaches On The North Coast 500.

Locals call Oldshoremore Beach “Am Meallan.” It is a beautiful, narrow beach with clean white sand that is also known as “Am Meallan.” This beach is next to Polin Beach. Between them is a rocky peninsula called Eilean na h-Aiteig. Along the rocky coast, there is a small parking area and a narrow path for walking. The beach is a beautiful and peaceful place, with rocky cliffs and a large, clear blue sea.

Polin Beach

With its beautiful white sand and calm blue water, you might think this beach was in a much warmer place. Polin Beach is surrounded by green cliffs and is just a stone’s throw from a campsite.

It can also be reached by a short, beautiful footpath. Most people come here to swim in the clear water in the summer.

All in all…

Sandwood Bay is a beautiful and unique place that you should definitely go see. People say that the beach is the most beautiful in the UK because it has wide sand that goes on for almost 1.5 miles and is surrounded by cliffs. It is also surrounded by big sand dunes and a loch, which make for beautiful landscape views.

The fact that Sandwood Bay is out in the middle of nowhere and can’t be reached by road is one thing that makes it stand out. This makes it a great place to go if you want to get away from the busyness of everyday life and spend time with nature.

It’s the epitome of what a Scottish highlands beach on the NC500 should be. Remote, beautiful and an experience to never forget.

Your Common Questions Answered

Can you drive to Sandwood Bay?

Not all the way to Sandwood Bay. Park at Blairmore car park (Blairmore, Lairg IV27 4RT) and follow the decent 4×4 track to the sand dunes, loch and Sandwood bay. It is an approximate 6.7Km walk from the carpark.

Is Sandwood Bay worth it?

Worth it! You’re feet might hurt from the long walk to the beach, but the views, the beach…. This is why you’re on the NC500 route!

How long is Sandwood Bay Walk?

It is an approximate 6.7Km / 4-mile walk from the carpark at Blairmore.

Can you swim at Sandwood Bay?

No, swimming in Sandwood Bay is not advised due to the strong undercurrents.

Is Sandwood Bay on the NC500?

Yes, it’s part of the NC500.

Who owns Sandwood Bay?

The John Muir Foundation manages the Sandwood Estate, which includes Sandwood Bay.

Have You Been to Sandwood Bay?

If so, let us know what you through of the beach, the bay, the walk and whether it was right up there as a destination to see for your NC500 experience below.

We look forward to hearing from you.

We're here to help you maximise your North Coast 500 experience with guides, tips, itineraries. Everything you need to know about your first or next NC500 adventure.
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