Year of Coasts & Waters 2020: Seven brilliant beach walks!
Fancy a stroll along the beach? It’s not just about forests here y’know.
Scotland's weather may not always allow for glorious sparkling waters and warm sand underfoot, but that's no reason to put off a trip to the seaside. A blast of fresh air and the chance to spot seals, dolphins or porpoises can be a perfect day out for family members young and old.
And as this year is the Scottish Government's Year of Coasts & Waters, there couldn't be a better time to explore the best beaches on the edge of Scotland's national forests and land!
Be inspired by Scotland’s beautiful beach walks
A few of our favourites to get you started…
Roseisle by the Moray Firth
History and nature walk hand in hand along the golden sands of the Moray Firth. There are three easy trails to choose from at Roseisle, each taking in the lovely coastal pine forest and passing the fascinating World War II coastal defences.
The beach is well-appointed for a picnic, too. There's a kids play area, a wildlife hide where you can spot sea birds and forest creatures, and spots for barbecueing. The sandy beach is popular with swimmers in the summer months, or you can take a wander amongst the sweet-smelling pines.
Loch Morlich Beach in Glenmore Forest Park
Loch Morlich is an incredibly popular beach, and also one of the highest in Britain. Watch windsurfers bob across the water or sun worshippers top up their tans on the award-winning beach, as you take a stroll on the banks. There's also a watersports centre on the beach, in case you're tempted to try canoeing, windsurfing and more!
Take the accessible Beach Trail for a relaxing ramble under charming old pines, or choose the more challenging Loch Morlich Trail, which offers glimpses of local wildlife and stunning views of the Cairngorms. Conveniently, Glenmore Visitor Centre is just across the road from the beach, so pop in for a refreshment or spot of lunch.
Ardentinny in Argyll Forest Park
Discover Cowal’s longest sandy beach in Argyll Forest Park. Walk the Laird’s Trail along the coast and enjoy the scenery, as well as some interesting history. In the past, Ardentinny was used as a landing point by Viking raiders, and more recently as a staging area for soldiers training for the Normandy landings in World War Two.
The nearby Ardentinny Outdoor Centre offers a range of activities, on and off the water, attracting a steady stream of adventurous visitors. Ardentinny itself is a small town, with many of the residents working for Forestry and Land Scotland in nearby Argyll Forest Park.
Boden Boo near Glasgow
You’ll find this small riverside beach just outside Glasgow, under the shadow of the Erskine Bridge. Locals use Boden Boo to get fit, so why not join their ranks and go for a bracing walk or a run along the beach?
With nearly 2 miles of informal trails, this is a great spot for walking and cycling. The paths are wide and smooth, so great for buggies too. If you would like to explore a bit farther afield, Boden Boo is also on the Clyde Coastal Path – a 55km trail from Kelly Burn between Wemyss Bay and Skelmorlie to Milngavie.
Rowardennan in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
Those banks of Loch Lomond aren’t called bonny for nothing! This is a small beach where you can take in the incredible views of Ben Lomond, and afterwards take the lochside Ben Lomond Memorial Trail to an impressive viewpoint.
Looking out across the Loch, a granite statue created for the Memorial Park by Angus sculptor Doug Cocker frames the distant hills. Created in recognition of those who gave their lives in the service of their country, it is the perfect place to remember and celebrate Scotland’s people, rich history and unique landscape.
Tentsmuir near St Andrews
Walk along the shore at Tentsmuir and you might find you have company – sometimes you can spot the seals basking on the sand here! The Seashell Trail offers dramatic views of the North Sea and some interesting artefacts that hint at the area’s important past, as part of the country’s coastal defences. You can see tank traps on the beach to this day, but Tentsmuir's history stretches back even farther. People have lived, hunted and worked in the forests for thousands of years, and artefacts have been found dating back to the Stone Age.
The forests here are alive with wildlife, from red squirrels to roe deer. The miles of trails are flat and sandy, unwaymarked, and perfect for cycling, running, or just a gentle stroll. There are picnic spots, and plenty of space on the beach, but don't be tempted to swim - currents here are particularly strong.
King’s Cave on Arran
The trail at King’s Cave takes you on a journey around both countryside and coast on the island of Arran. The shingle beach is rich with wildlife – from seabirds overhead to the tiny living habitats of the rock pools. There’s also some intriguing history here too. The famous tale of Robert the Bruce and the spider (if true!) is said to have occurred in this very chamber.
With so many brilliant beach walks nestled in some of Scotland’s most inviting forests, there’s no better way to get close to nature and calm the mind. Remember to share your pictures with us - just use the hashtag #foundmyforest!
More things to do this summer: