I Kllkennettl, Time Just one of the many beaches around the coast of this beautiful island. Lying so low and flat that it is nicknamed in Gaelic Tirfo Thur'nn (The Land Below the Waves). Trree has more recently become known as the ‘Hawaii of the North‘ on account of the powerful Atlantic rollers which break around its shore. The windsurﬁng championships are held here but those with a less developed sense of balance can roam around the coast. race up and down the dunes and admire the views over the sea as far as Skye.
I Calgary, Mull Hidden away in the north west comer of the island is this sheltered bay with a broad strip ofclean yellow sand set back from the open sea. Emigrants from Calgary at the time of the Clearances went on to found the vast Canadian city of the same name. If it is too cold to sit on the beach itself there is a good walk out to the headland to the north.
I Balfour’s Bay, Errata Just off the Ross of Mull. By tradition this is the place where David Balfour was washed ashore after being shipwrecked in Kidnapped. Thinking he was marooned on an island and being unable to swim. he nearly starved to death before discovering it is linked to the mainland of Mull by a causeway at low tide.
I Carnas Cull an t-Salmh, Iona Included in this list partly for its beautiful Gaelic name which reads in translation ‘the bay on the back of the ocean'. It faces out to sea from the west coast of Iona and is imbued with the same tranquil spirit which pervades the whole of St Columba‘s isle. In the 20s. the Scottish colourists Peploe and Cadell were regular visitors to Iona and the bay features in many of their works to be found in public collections in Scotland.
I Colonsay Many local people believe that Kiloran Beach holds the mantle of the ﬁnest beach in the Hebrides. It is well worth the trip from the mainland and visitors who make the ﬁve hour ferry trek from Oban won’t be disappointed. Four km from the quay. follow the road right. then a track leads down to the corner of the beach. Craggy cliffs and negotiable rocks for the adventurous sandwich a spotless beach which was apparently the main asset that led to the island of Colonsay being bought as a picnic spot. At low-tide you can cross over to the island of Oransay which has a beautiful ruined medieval priory and two inhabited cottages. as well as its fair share of idyllic beaches.
I Shian Bay, Jura One of the wildest and most unspoilt of the islands.'Jura has only one road which stretches up its east side. The uninhabited west coast can only be reached by sea or by a long hike over the central ridge. There are many beautiful hays but the most striking is at Shian where. instead of the cliffs which dominate most of the coast. the land rolls gently down to the sea. short cropped green grass butting on to silver sands and views out over the waves to Colonsay.
I losslt Bay, lslay This small secluded bay on the west of Islay is less well known than the big strand of Laggan Bay which stretches for seven miles along another part of the island. But away from the aerodrome and golf course. Lossit has more character. with its recessed beach pulling the waves in from the Atlantic to rise and break on the sand. The temptation to bathe is strong but should be resisted as there is a ﬁerce undertow which can sweep you out to sea.
ORKNEY 8: SHETLAND
I St Illnlan’s Isle, Shetland One of the 100 isles which make up the Shetlands. St Ninian’s is linked to the mainland by a tornbolo beach. Historically famous for the treasure troves of silverware discovered in a ruined Christian church. lfyou continue along the B9122 there are a succession of small sandy bays. sheltered by the headlands. D
SCOTLAND CAN claim some of the cleanest beaches in Britain. So clean that the Marine Conservation Society don’t even bother to test them before recommending them without reservation in their Good Beach Guide.
We also have some of the most polluted, where faecal bacteria reach dangerous levels and sanitary materials have been monitored at the highest concentrations in Britain. Radioactive particles have been found near the Dounreay nuclear site in Caithness. Sea lochs are polluted by over exploitation of salmon farming. Sewage sludge is dumped off the Clyde. Forth and Tay estuaries.
The Scottish Ofﬁce monitored 23 beaches in I992. under the EEC Bathing Water Directive, where swimming is either ‘explicitly authorised' or ‘not prohibited and traditionally practised'. Of these only one. Pease Sands near Cockbumspath in the Borders, passed the stringent Guideline standard for bacteria. Fourteen more passed the less stringent Imperative standard.
Two Fife beaches. Kinghom (Pettycur) and Aberdour (Silversands)just failed to meet the
SKINNY-DIPPING alone on a remote beach can be exhilarating: just you, the sea, sky and sand. It can also be lethal: just you. the riptide. cramps, jellyﬁsh and no-one to fetch help. If you are going to swim from remote beaches. go with a pa], and remember these obvious points:
I Don’t Drink and Dlve Swimming while under the influence of alcohol. or any intoxicant. is a quick route to Davy Jones locker.
I lot after dinner Swimming with a full stomach just after a big meal will give you the cramps.
I Jellyfish Many north west coastal waters become chock-a-block with jellyﬁsh in the warmer months. While no indigenous Scottish species are fatal. if you do get stung. vinegar rubbed into the skin helps relieve the pain.
I 60 across the flow If you get caught in a riptide or current. don’t swim against it. you will just exhaust yourself and get nowhere. Swim across the
SJ Peploe: Iona Landscape, no
cits. Scottlsli Iatlonal Gallery of Modern Art
Imperative standard. Of the six Strathclyde beaches sampled, only Troon (South beach) passed. Ayr (South beach) had the highest bacteria count. with over eight times the limit, while a third of the samples taken at Tumben'y failed the faecal bacteria test.
Ofthe top 100 beaches in Britain listed in the Good Beach Guide. 2] are in Scotland. Only two of these, Pease Sands and Thomtonloch (uncomfortably close to Tomess nuclear power station) are not on the north or west coasts and only Pease Sands is also tested by the Scottish Ofﬁce.
Coastwatch UK monitor solid debris around the coast. Once again Strathclyde came out worst in this category. with a record 109 ‘sanitary items’ per km of the 38 kilometres surveyed. ln Fife the level was also high at 95 items per km over the 68 kilometres surveyed. (Thom Dibdin)
A more complete examination of bacterial levels around the coast is given in the Good Beach Guide (£6.99), available from most bookshops or from the Marine Conservation Society. 9 Gloucester Road. Ross-on-Wye. Herts. HR9 58U.
flow to get beyond its reach.
I Alrhoad Only airheads take air-beds or inflatables into the water. It's a long way to the other side of the ocean so leave your lilo on the beach.
I Far out Swim along the shore. If you swim straight out until you’re exhausted you obviously won’t have the energy to return.
I Stay cool If you're getting too cold. don‘t stay in till you catch hypothermia: get out.
I Red Flags mean it is unsafe to swim. Red and yellow ﬂags indicate that a lifeguard is around and mark out safe swimming areas. A black and white flag marks areas for surﬁng.
I learn to Iltosavo The Royal Life Saving Society provides lifeguard (mining. Details of local courses from: RLSS, Mountbatten House. Studley. Warwickshire. B80 7NN (tel: 0527 853 943). (Thom Dibdin)
The List 16-29 July l99315