On a road trip along Scotland’s north-west coast Kevin Rushby and family search for great swimming and wild camping spots – and a legendary beach, Sandwood Bay, at the tip of the country
I first heard of it many years ago while sitting on a beach in the Far East. We had palm trees, white sand and aquamarine water where turtles swam – and there was a Scotsman, freckled and sunburned, arguing that his homeland had better. “Like Sandwood Bay,” he said. “Best beach in the world – and it feels like the last one, too. It’s a hike to get there. You should make the pilgrimage.”
The name stuck in my mind and, over the years, other people mentioned the place: its legendary beauty, its wonderful isolation, and its burgeoning reputation. But it was not until I was searching the west coast for wild-swimming spots between Applecross and Cape Wrath that I found its actual location: the last splash of yellow sand before the top north-west corner of Britain, with a four-mile footpath snaking across the hills to reach it. The whole nature of the trip changed right then. We would do the pilgrimage, working our way north, searching for great swimming and wild-camping spots, and finish at the ultima thule, the legendary goal of wilderness lovers: Sandwood Bay.