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Sandwood Bay is one of the most remote and untouched beaches in Scotland. Located in Kinlochbervie on the north west coast of Scotland this beach faces straight into the North Atlantic Ocean. This beautiful stretch of sand is 1.5 miles long and to the south of the beach stands Am Buachaille, an incredible sea stack.
Sandwood Bay isn’t the easiest beach to access in Scotland. It is a 4 miles walk across exposed moorland from the nearest car park at Blairmore. This leaves it to only those willing to do the hike, to witness the true beauty of this stretch of sand.
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Being quite the hike to get to, many will take a tent and experience wild camping on Sandwood Bay, to really soak up the nature that surrounds them. In this guide, we will discuss the best time to go to Sandwood Bay as well as the following
- What is Sandwood Bay?
- Where is Sandwood Bay?
- How to get to Sandwood Bay?
- Why Should I go to Sandwood Bay?
- When Should I go to Sandwood Bay?
- Preparing for your trip to the NC500.
What is Sandwood Bay?
Sandwood Bay is one of the most remote beaches in Scotland and therefore perfect for a night in your tent under the stars. The beach itself, is said to be haunted by ghostly sailors that were shipwrecked on the beach long before there was a lighthouse. This incredible sandy beach stretches for 1.5 miles along the coast and the impressive sea stack, Am Buachaille, sits out at sea at the southern end of the beach.
Sandwood Bay is a 4 mile walk away from the nearest car park so camping allows you to really make the most of your time at the beach without rushing back.
Where is Sandwood Bay?
Sandwood Bay is located in the far north west corner of the mainland of Scotland, just outside of the small village of Kinlochbervie.. The car park where the walk to Sandwood Bay begins, sits around 7 miles north of Kinlochbervie, past the turn off for Oldshoremore.
Kinlochbervie is the last place you will be able to stock up for your trip to Sandwood Bay. There is a small Spar beside the harbour.
Due to the exposure of the beach to the Atlantic, there have been many shipwrecks at Sandwood Bay that are now buried under the sand many hundreds of years later.
How to get to Sandwood Bay?
If you are heading towards Kinlochbervie, take the slip road off to the right following the sign for Oldshoremore. Continue to follow this road, past the turn off for Oldshoremore Beach. You will start to see sign posts for Sandwood Bay at the side of the road.
You will see signs for the car park at Blairmore named Sandwood Estate, which is run by the John Muir Trust. When you reach the car park for Sandwood Bay, you will need to cross back over the single track road to get to the path that leads towards Sandwood Bay.
Hop over the style or open the gate and follow the dirt path across the moorland for around 7km until you reach the beach. It is worth noting that if it has been raining, the conditions can be very marshy underfoot and there are some parts where you may need to walk across rocks over a stream to get back on the path. We would recommend wearing comfortable hiking boots.
When you come to the rise in the path, Sandwood Loch will come into view, as well as the ruins of a house. The path becomes a bit less obvious at this part as you follow the grassy hill down towards the sand dunes at the top of the beach.
Your trip to Scotland will be a lot more comfortable with a midge net and midge spray. These little biting bugs can be enough to ruin a trip if you don’t have the equipment to protect yourself from them. A repelling candle can also be helpful if you are sitting oustide.
Why Should I go to Sandwood Bay?
Sandwood Bay is one of the most stunning, untouched beaches that we have ever been to. The hike across the moorland is relatively easy as you can enjoy the stunning views of the north-west highlands. It is well worth the walk to reach the beach.
The long stretch of pinky/white virgin sand is met with the beautiful backdrop of cliffs and sand dunes, with the only noise being the waves crashing against the shore. Look out to the south and witness Am Buachaille guarding this beautiful beach.
When Should I go to Sandwood Bay?
The best time to visit Sandwood Bay is during the summer months. There is less likely to have been heavy rainfall, therefore the path leading down to the beach won’t be as boggy.
If you are planning to camp at Sandwood Bay, we would advise checking multiple weather forecasts to avoid camping on the beach during heavy rain or wind.
Before You Leave on the North Coast 500
Before you head off on your trip around the NC500, there are certain things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth trip. These include how to get around the route, including being aware of single track roads, etc., what to pack for Scotland, where to stay along the route and what travel insurance to book.
How Do I Get Around the NC500?
Given the remote location of the NC500 and the majority of the sights along the route, the best way to get around this road trip is by driving. There are of course other methods that are still popular, such as cycling and hiking, however, if you have a short amount of time on the route, neither of these are very suitable.
As for public transport, the use around the NC500 is understandably difficult due to how remote each location is, however, with the increasing problem of congestion along the route, this is a good option to research if you have time. If it is something that interests you, you can read a public formed itinerary of how to get around the NC500 by public transport over here.
If you are looking to rent a cosy, reliable and luxurious campervan for your NC500 trip, we highly recommend hiring through Spaceships Rentals. We toured around the up-and-coming Heart 200 road trip in a campervan and it was by far the best way to get around and enjoy the amazing views.
What Should I Pack for the NC500?
When it comes to packing for a trip along the NC500 there is one item of clothing that you are going to need all year round: a waterproof. It rains in Scotland on average 250 days a year, meaning that during your NC500 road trip you will probably experience at least a drizzle of rain. Due to this, the number one item on any Scotland packing list is a good waterproof jacket.
As for the rest of the year, the temperature in Scotland and the central heartlands is reasonably mild for most of the year. During the winter months, you will most likely experience snow, however, temperatures usually sit around freezing, so it is not too cold. For your reference, the average temperatures in Scotland are listed below during each season.
Spring (March, April, May) – 5-10 degrees C
Summer (June, July, August) – 15 degrees C
Autumn (September, October, November) – 5-10 degrees C
Winter (December, January, February) – 0-5 degrees C
As you can see, the weather never really gets above the teens, with anything over 25 degrees C considered a heatwave. The best way to pack for your trip to the highlands is with layers that can be added and removed as you need them. You will definitely need a hat and gloves during the colder months and will most likely need sunscreen to protect you on the long days in the open.
Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around Scotland, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.
Where Should I Stay on the NC500?
The remoteness in the highlands of Scotland will leave you with little choice of accommodation in each location along the NC500, however, there are still enough options to choose from to ensure a comfortable trip. These are mostly in the shape of B&Bs, Airbnbs, converted cottages and other quirky accommodations.
Depending on how adventurous you are, there may be more accommodation choices than just the above, often with an even better view. Caravan and camping sites are abundant along the NC500, drawing camping enthusiasts from all over the world. For some of the most spectacular bedside scenery along the North Coast 500, we recommend packing a tent and getting in touch with nature for the week.
We travelled along the North Coast 500, camped in our trusty Vango tent on a mixture of campsites and wild sites. Wild camping is a fantastic way to enjoy the beauty of the highlands, however, it must be done respectfully. Read our full guide to Wild Camping if you wish to give it a go so you know everything you need to for a comfortable and sustainable trip.
What is the Best Travel Insurance?
No matter what type of adventure you are heading on, whether it is a mountain adventure or a relaxing beach destination, one thing we all need to be aware of is that accidents can happen. The last thing you want is for an unexpected medical emergency to ruin your trip of a lifetime. Luckily, that is what travel insurance is for.
Whenever we travel, we get covered with Safetywing Travel Insurance, a reliable, friendly and extremely affordable method of covering yourself on any adventure. With years of experience working for backpackers around the globe, the service they provide is perfect for whatever type of trip you have planned.
So there you have it, a complete guide to visiting Sandwood Bay. If you have visited the NC500 recently, let us know what you thought of the sights listed above, or if you have any suggestions let us know in the comments below.
As always, sharing is caring so make sure to share this photo guide with your family and friends and inspire them to head off on their own North Coast 500 adventure. If you are planning the trip for yourself, make sure you have a look at the rest of our Scotland content for more inspiration to our beautiful home country.
When you set off on your own adventure, be sure to tag us in your photos on Instagram and we will share them with the rest of our community. In the meantime, why not follow us over there to see what we are currently up to and keep up with us on our Instagram Stories.
- Instagram Guide to the North Coast 500 – Most Photogenic Spots
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