Dog Friendly Beaches Scotland
There’s nothing better than driving your pet friendly motorhome up to a parking spot, letting your dog off their lead and seeing them run around a beach. The following NC500 beaches are all dog friendly, but please be respectful of other people, especially where a picnic is involved! No one wants to have their perfectly laid out picnic covered in sand when a friendly dog comes gate crashing in to see if there’s any food available for them.
Dornoch lies on north shore of the Dornoch Firth and is approximately an hour away from Inverness. It is a small historic town renowned for the Royal Dornoch Golf Course, Dornoch Cathedral and of course Dornoch Beach. If travelling by motor home or camper van , by far the best place both to park and stay is Dornoch Caravan & Camping Park. This amazingly situated campsite has direct access to the beautifully sandy Dornoch Beach, which gently slopes to the sea backed by sand dunes. There are also some good rocks along the beach, which are suitable for rock pooling.
From Dornoch beach, it only takes 10 minutes to walk in town.
Brora is a hidden gem quite often overlooked in favour of the more famous Dornoch Beach. Located half a hour north of Dornoch, Brora is famous for Clynelish Whisky and it’s Links Brora Golf Club. It’s stunning location and the fact that it is so quiet, makes it ideal for any dog wanting to run for miles through the surf and the soft sand.
Parking is allowed at the golf club, but if you plan to stay a bit longer, there is a Caravan and Motorhome Club site, Brora Caravan Club, located with direct access to the golf course. You and your dog can then walk from your motorhome across the golf course and straight on to the beach. Always keep your dog on a lead when crossing the golf course, as it is a daily occurrence that sheep and Highland Cattle frequent the fairways!
For a bit of sustenance after your big dog walk, visit Cocoa Skye, famous for their homemade waffles or if you’re looking for something a little bit more substantial, there’s the Sutherland Inn offering traditional pub grub. Why not try their North Coast Cider, which is made by a small independent cidery, Caledonian Cider, from local apples. You can even buy some to take back to your motorhome with you.
Sinclair's Bay, Wick
Known locally as Reiss Beach, Sinclair’s Bay is a fabulous stretch of untouched beach, just off the main road from Wick to John O’Groats. It is rarely busy and if you’re lucky you and your dog may have the place to yourselves. There is parking available at Wick Golf Club or at the Camper Park (chargeable) next to the Sinclair Bay Hotel in Keiss. Keiss was the film set for a scene in Series 4 of the Netflix series ‘The Crown’ and Keiss harbour was used to depict the scene where Lord Mountbatten’s boat was blown up in the 1970s by the IRA. Many locals were used as extras, seen going about their daily business or having a wee dram at the hotel. The hotel provides parking, electric hook up and water for a small fee and serves evening meals in the bar.
From the beach you can see Ackergill Tower, which was used as Lord Mountbatten’s residence in ‘The Crown’, Castle Girnigoe and Noss Head Lighthouse further along the coast.
Situated near the north western tip of Scotland , Balnakeil Beach is an expanse of near white sand and dunes, which would be on any dog’s bucket list to visit. Rather than trying to navigate driving and parking to the beach itself, we would recommend staying at Sango Sands campsite, which proffers astounding views of the North Sea coastline. From there, it is a short walk to Balnakeil Beach and beautiful viewpoints around the headland. On the way back, it would be rude not to stop and refuel at Cocoa Mountain where, in our opinion, they sell the best hot chocolate in the land, using melted chocolate to line the inside of the mug.
If you’re staying at Sango Sands, then the Oasis Restaurant & Bar sells good pub grub. They are pet friendly and dogs are allowed in the bar area. They also do takeaway, which is great if your motorhome is in the campsite and you don’t fancy cooking.
Sandwood Bay is a remote beach located in the north western tip of the mainland, which can only be accessed by a four and a half mile walk from the Blairmore car park in Lairg. The trail is straightforward to navigate and has amazing scenery. It is worthwhile getting there early, as once you’re there, there are no other options for parking.
If you want to park up nearby to get an early start, you can stay at the Loch Clash Stopover, which provides parking, electric hook up and waste disposal for a small fee payable at the local Spar shop.
Be sure to pack a picnic!
Clachtoll Beach, Lochinver
Clachtoll Beach is a little bit of paradise in the Highlands located 6 miles outside Lochinver. There is a small car park with a Ranger’s hut where you can find out more about the history, wildlife and geology of the beach. Further along the coast line there is iron-age broch, which was an ancient dwelling, built as early as 500BC.
Many of our motorhome hire customers have liked this coastline so much that they decided to stay for a few days. If you choose to do this, you might want to stock up at the famous pie shop the Lochinver Larder before heading to the Clachtoll Beach Campsite, which is dog friendly. It is worth noting that although also stunning, Achmelvich Beach is not dog friendly during the peak tourist season and the campsite there also doesn’t allow dogs.
There are actually two beaches at Gairloch; Gairloch Beach and Big Sand Beach.
For Gairloch Beach there is a free public car park next to the Gairloch Golf Club and access to the beach is via a boardwalk that cuts through the sand dunes. After wearing both you and your dog out, head to the Coast Coffee Company, which is located near the harbour. This is a little gem of a café, which sells soup & sandwiches, salads and great cakes. If your dog asks nicely, they’ll also give him water and biscuits too!
Further along the road there is Big Sand Beach. There is parking available at the beach, however, this is limited, so it would be easier to stay at the campsite, Sands Caravan & Camping, which has direct access to the beach. Barn Café is located on site and serves breakfast, lunch & dinner. There is a beautiful garden area with a stunning view, which is absolutely perfect for a drink in the sun.