When we started to plan our Scotland Road Trip, one of the first things I did was research the best dog friendly beaches in Scotland. With over 8,000 miles of coastline, Scotland has plenty of stunning beaches on offer and I was relieved and excited to see lots of them were dog friendly.
As with all beaches around the UK, some are better than others in terms of cleanliness, safety and ‘paw’ comfort. For example, I try to avoid all shingle beaches and those with a sand dune nature reserve you have to walk through to get to the beach. Our working cocker spaniels are very keen on birds and I don’t want them to disturb nesting birds or resting migrating birds. Keeping an over excited dog on-lead on a beach is asking for a broken arm so we tend to do our research first and choose beaches where we won’t disturb wildlife and has good paw-friendly sand sections.
My dog friendly beaches in Scotland list includes both North East Coast 250 (NE250) and the North Coast 500 (NC500) popular roads. You can drive both of these popular coastal roads clockwise or anti-clockwise. We decided to travel anti-clockwise as we’d read lots of van owner comments that the West was best. So we decided to leave the best side till last and having completed both NE250 and NC500 I still think this was a great decision. The scenery and beaches are just stunning and get better and more jaw dropping as you travel anti-clockwise. We left beautiful Scotland on a high and wishing we could stay longer.
Dog Friendly Beaches Scotland
Below are the dog friendly beaches in Scotland that we visited and would highly recommend to dog owners.
Located on the North East Coast of Scotland Findhorn Beach is a hidden gem. Why this beach isn’t listed on more of the dog friendly beaches in Scotland lists is beyond me. If you’re planning to follow some of the NE250 coastal road then I’d highly recommend a stop here. There’s a pretty village with a friendly community and a great motorhome and camper van Aire located right next to the soft sand, dog friendly beach.
Related Post: You can read more of this hidden gem in my review of Findhorn Beach and Motorhome Park with useful visitor information, camping options and there’s even a birds eye view video too worth watching.
This is a popular seaside resort and family beach location, so it’s not as quiet or remote as the others I’ve listed. That said, if you have family and your dog with you on your road trip then this is a great beach to head to for the day. Located 16 miles east of Inverness, Nairn Beach has plenty of seaside facilities nearby for lunch, ice creams etc. The beach had plenty of dogs and children playing in the water when we visited, which was lovely to see.
Ceannabeinne Beach (Lairg Durness)
One of several fabulous dog friendly beaches in the Durness area at the top of Scotland. Ceannabeinne Beach is just east of Smoo Caves (also a fun dog friendly place to visit), and like so many Scotland beaches it’s white soft sand so very ‘paw friendly’.
This beach is quite remote and a fair walk to get to but it is totally worth it. If you and your dog love longer walks then this is the beach for you. Situated near Cape Wrath in the north-west Highlands, Balnakiel beach is dog friendly and the most superb white soft sands, turquoise waters and grassy dunes.
I mean look at this beach! I was blown away when we came through the sand dunes and found this crescent shaped beach. You could easily mistake Balnakiel beach as being somewhere in the Mediterranean rather than Scotland. It was really clean too and our dogs loved jumping about in the shallow waters edge.
To get to the beach follow the trail over the sand dunes and drop down onto the Balnakeil beach. I think that’s why it’s so secluded as no one realises it’s there. The tall sand dunes also provide protection from the wind, so it was pretty hot during our visit in early September. There are no facilities here so take plenty of water for you and your dog on this walk.
This is a stunning picnic spot on a nice day, we had a lovely lunch whilst the dogs went crazy on the beach. Dave was able to practice his drone flying skills and shot some breathtaking photos above Balnakiel beach.
The golden beach at Dornoch is located in Sutherland North East Scotland on the Dornoch Firth. Backed by dunes this dog friendly, soft sand beach runs all the way along the coast towards Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve. We had such a fun day here running, swimming and digging in the sand. There is a beach car park and we had no problems parking Lexi Van here. There’s also a beach cafe that seemed very popular and was wafting delicious cooking smells around the park.
This award winning (blue flag) beach can be accessed by turning off the main A836, on North Coast 500 route, in the direction of Strathy East and following the winding, single track road, past the cemetery to the car parking area. There is a log cabin with toilet facilities and there are a few spaces in the car park big enough for Motorhomes and camper vans. We spent the night here as it was listed as a wild camping option on search4sites. We had two other hired camper vans parked over night with us.
Sadly I don’t have great photos to share from our visit to Strathy Beach as we were in thick fog. That didn’t stop us from playing on the beach though and actually it meant we had the beach all to ourselves. Scotland has so many stunning dog friendly beaches, they just keep popping up as you drive around the NC500 route.
Sangomore / Sango Bay Peninsula
Located in Durness at the top of Scotland in the North West section of the NC500 Coastal route. There are three stunning bays, with soft sand and large rocks to run in and out of. Our dogs loved it here as we played hide and seek through the rocks between the bays until the tide started to come in. We stayed at the Sango Bay Campsite, which sits above the Sangomore Peninsula. Our motorhome was parked on a cracking spot right on the cliff edge so we had uninterrupted views out to sea. We didn’t want to leave here so we extended our stay by a couple of days. Don’t miss Smoo Caves whilst you’re here, it’s just down the road and dog friendly too.
Having spent one of our most memorable wild camping nights atLoch Fleet National Nature Reserve, we headed just around the bay to Embo Beach for the day. Loch Fleet was breathtaking at sunset and sunrise, the sky turned from golden to deep red, silhouetting the mountains the other side of the estuary. We watched all sorts of birds gliding around and diving into the water to feed. They share the bay with a colony of seals and otters, the elders were being very lazy and basking in the sunshine on a sandbank. The younger ones were playful and jumping in and out of the water.
Just around the bay from the nature reserve is Embo Beach. There is a small car park at the end of a static caravan park that allows you to then drop down onto Embo beach. We had a lovely day parked along a young couple in their camper van. First we went for a jog along the beach followed by a freezing but exhilarating swim. This was the first holiday in which we have been able to swim with our dogs and we loved it. Would highly recommend giving it a go, the expression on our dogs faces as we waded out and swam with them is something we’ll never forget.
Big Sand Beach
Yep it’s a big sandy beach and dog friendly right next to the Camping and Caravan Campsite. Big Sand Beach is situated in a small remote crofting village situated 4 miles from Gairloch Village. The beach has stunning views across to the snow-capped mountains of Isle of Skye and Torridon. We stayed at the Big Sand Gairloch campsite for a couple of nights so we took advantage of the beach on both days we were there.
The Big Sand Beach is both sand and shingle which our dogs seemed to enjoy racing about on. This is a nice size dog friendly beach to head to if you’re planning to stay in the Gairloch area. Opposite the campsite there’s a short circular walking trail, which we used for a more calming on-lead dog walk before settling in for the night. Cross the road opposite the campsite entrance and you’ll see the gravel trail. From the top of this circular trail there are great views of the bay and surrounding area.
Mellon Udrigle Beach (Wester Ross)
is situated on a jaw dropping beautiful horse shoe bay on the in Wester Ross coast. Stretching from the hamlet of Udrigle to Opinian, you can see beautiful mountain peaks on the horizon. The water is clear blue and the sands so clean and white. The peace and serenity is unparalleled; it’s an outstanding place of natural allurement. Backed by a dune system, you will feel utterly transported by a trip to this wonderful secret beach.
If you’re planning a Scotland Road Trip then check out my Scotland Travel series, you can START HERE…
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I hope you’ve found this Scotland travel post, 10 stunning dog friendly beaches in Scotland useful. Don’t leave your best friend in the kennels or at home, take your dog on the most amazing adventure to the Scottish Highlands.
Poppy and Coco had such a fabulous holiday with us. Each day was a new adventure either on a beach, in the forest or Scottish Lochs. Scotland was a 10 out of 10 on the waggy tails and tongue out smiles scale. In fact they had the holiday blues when we got home 🙂
Hopefully my Scotland Road Trip series will help and inspire your own travel planning. I’d love to know which beach is your favourite, so share in the comments or tag Touring Tales on social media with your photos.
Happy travelling, Miche xxx
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