This extract is from Blue Scotland: The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Scotland’s Wild Waters by Mollie Hughes.
On the far north-west coast of Scotland lies the remote and sheltered blue space of Scourie Bay. Here you will find golden sand, clear waters and a real sanctuary for swimming, paddleboarding and kayaking, protected from the often-turbulent North Atlantic ocean.
The crofting village of Scourie provides a welcome rest stop on the road north from Ullapool. it is a great spot to slow the pace and relax for a night or two. As you drive into Scourie itself, there is a large golden beach on your left-hand side, overlooked by a well-equipped hilltop campsite. In the village itself you will find a petrol station, a post office, and a handful of hotels and guest houses to choose from.
We arrived late one summer’s afternoon and got a last-minute pitch for our campervan. The campsite is on terraced levels, giving almost every pitch an exceptional view out over Scourie Bay. A young harbour seal bobbed about in the bay to the great amusement of many. It was an hour before sunset when I finally pumped up my board and headed down to the water, the golden evening light just beginning to illuminate the water’s surface.
There are two main options for getting onto the water at Scourie Bay: the sandy stretch on the southern side of the bay, or on the east side there is a rocky beach stretched out in front of the pier. I got on the water from the rocky beach, for the simple reason that it was closer to the camping pitch, and I’m not one to carry my board further than is required!
From the shelter of the bay, I could see huge Atlantic waves out to sea; they would rise on the horizon and crash down against the rocks just outside the bay. However, inside the bay the water was relatively calm, with just a gentle rocking motion from the swell. I looked to the campsite above me and realised that the seal must have gone on its way because I was now the evening entertainment for the 50 or so people enjoying a drink outside their tents and motorhomes. I even saw one chap get out the long lens of his camera to track me on the water. . . As strange as this was, nothing could lessen my enjoyment of this paddle. A solo sunset paddle from the safety of a sheltered bay as the Atlantic ocean roared just outside: there is no better way to absorb the blue-health benefits this country has to offer.
If you are interested in more of the adventure that Scourie Bay has to offer, there is a great kayaking journey outside the bay. Handa Island lies just north of Scourie Bay and it is a 10-mile round trip to circumnavigate the island via Tarbet by sea kayak. Handa Island is a site of special scientific interest as well as a nature reserve, home to 200,000 seabirds nestled along its cliffs. With sea stacks and caves to explore, as well as stunning views towards Cape Wrath, this is a truly awesome adventure. if you would like to visit Handa Island but don’t fancy the paddle, there is a small ferry that runs a service during the summer months from Tarbet.
The shelter of Scourie Bay makes it a great blue space for swimmers and beginner paddlers, as well as those wanting a relaxed sunset paddle before a pint and chips at the campsite pub.