Remote, wild and beautiful, Scotland’s islands offer a wonderful way to escape the hassle of mainland life. With unique character, stunning wildlife and superb landscapes, they are also home to some of Scotland’s most remote and interesting communities.
Cocklestrand on Traigh Mhor, Barra
Set in the Outer Hebrides, Traigh Mhor beach is the only beach in the world that doubles as a landing strip for scheduled flights. Flights from nearby island, Benbecula and from Glasgow Airport can land here, but only when the tide is out. Barra featured in the 1949 Ealing Comedy, Whisky Galore, and the history of its people, its remote landscapes and its famous blackhouses make it one of the most fascinating of Scotland’s islands.
North End, Iona
Painted by many because of distinctive blue sea and stunning white sand, the North end of Iona is a sparkling gem of a spot unknown to many. This tiny island attracts over half a million visitors a year who cross on the ten minute ferry ride from the Isle of Mull. But few of them walk the mile beyond the famous and historic Abbey to find this hidden gem. The birthplace of Christianity in Scotland, Iona represents a personal pilgrimage for many and a holiday hideaway for others.
St Ninians, Shetland
This picture is seen by many on calendars and postcards, but few people ever get the chance to kick of their shoes and curl their toes in this lovely soft white sand. With the UK’s most active tombolo (a narrow strip of sand linking the island) this beach is almost too beautiful to believe. Nearby, in 1958 a local schoolboy unearthed ‘St Ninian’s Treasure’ simply by lifting a rock marked slab within the sand buried remains of an old church. The treasure includes trinkets and silver dating from as early as 800AD.
Kiloran Bay, Colonsay
With views through the haze towards the lovely Isle of Mull, Kiloran Bay on the tiny island of Colonsay has a wide sweep of golden sand which is usually deserted. The island offers a real getaway to visitors and includes a great little hotel, The Isle of Colonsay Hotel, plus a few cottages on the island for visitors keen to discover this serious retreat for wilderness lovers.
Port Ellen, Islay
Miles of golden island sand greet the visitor to Islay and on a sunny day, it is true paradise. Islay is well known for its eight whisky distilleries, each of which draws the distinctive flavour of its whisky from the peat, seaspray and seaweed. This beach will also host this year’s Islay Beach Rugby tournament featuring 20 teams from all over the UK. Sponsored by local distillery, Bruichladdich, this event really puts the remote island of Islay on the international rugby map and offers locals and visitors alike the most unique game of rugby they might ever play.