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Nine dog-friendly beaches in Scotland

A holiday in Scotland conjures up images of high-mountain scenery, windswept lochs and remote farmhouse getaways. But with over 6,000 miles of coastline on the mainland alone, its beautiful beaches should be top of the list for dog-owners looking to enjoy the great outdoors.

1. Balnakeil Beach

Location: Durness

Dog allowed: All year, no seasonal dog ban

Car park: There are several free car parks just by the entrance to the beach

Balnakeil Beach, near the northern town ofDurness, wouldn’t look amiss on the shores of Barbados. The turquoise waters and big sand dunes are perfect for a sea-loving pooch and the expansive white sands make for some scenic walking opportunities. Just across the road are the ruins of Balnakiel Church, built in the 1600s.

Dog-friendly place to stay: With capacity for up to ten guests, the spacious Cottage in the Highlands is ideal for larger groups.

2. Tyninghame Bay

Location: Dunbar

Dog allowed: All year, no seasonal dog ban

Car park: Paid-for parking at the end of Limetree Walk

Tyninghame Beach, also known as Ravensheugh Sands, is located between the small East Lothian towns of Dunbar and North Berwick. Secluded away at the end of a stretch of woodland, it's a real hidden gem. The walk from the carpark is beautiful in itself, taking you through old pine forest before you reach the deserted sand dunes of the beach. This long expanse of golden sand is generally quiet through all except the summer months, giving your dog ample space to run around.

Dog-friendly place to stay: The aptly named Harbour View is located right in the pretty coastal town of Dunbar.

3. Dornoch Beach

Location: Dornoch

Dog allowed: All year, no seasonal dog ban

Car park: Free parking available

Just a short walk from Dornoch town centre, Dornoch Beach will suit dog-loving families who need amenities alongside their beach time. The water is safe for swimming and paddling, and there are rock-pooling opportunities available. The area is also popular with wildlife-lovers; just nearby is the Loch Fleet Nature Reserve, and dolphins can occasionally be spotted playing offshore. 

Dog-friendly place to stay: The characterful Cottage in the Highlands holiday home has a wonderful location on a working croft.

4. Luskentyre Beach

Location: Isle of Harris

Dog allowed: All year, no seasonal dog ban

Car park: Free parking just above the beach

You’d be hard pushed to find a more idyllic beach than the award-winning Luskentyre Beach. With silvery sand straight from a postcard of the Seychelles, you may be fooled into jumping straight in, but after dipping a toe you’ll be quickly reminded that you’re still in Scotland! Top tip: Hike some of the Hebridean Way. Dog-friendly paths and spectacular views will reveal the best of Scotland’s Western Isles.

Dog-friendly place to stay: A day trip to the World Heritage Site of St Kilda is possible from this superb three-bed Cottage in the Outer Hebrides

5. Westport Beach

Location: Argyll and Bute

Dog allowed: All year, no seasonal dog ban

Car park: Free parking available just next to the beach

The long, thin peninsula of the Mull of Kintyre in Argyll and Bute has a rugged west coast that attracts surfers and walkers to its waters. Westport Beach is just one of the area’s beautiful pet-friendly stretches. With six miles of sand and the backdrop of the Machrihanish Dunes to explore, it’s a perfect spot for long walks and a windswept picnic.

Dog-friendly place to stay: Dog-friendly cottages don’t get much better than this stunning Cottage in Argyll and Bute, surrounded by gardens and sleeping up to eight guests.

6. Cullen Beach

Location: Cullen

Dog allowed: All year, no seasonal dog ban

Car park: Free parking available just next to the beach

Cullen Beach, next to the historic town of Cullen is perfectly situated for good food and great views. The Three Kings stack provides a bit of visual drama, while seals and dolphins are often seen bobbing around the waters. Protected by the Bay of Cullen, the sea is quite safe for swimming and snorkelling, making it a good option for a family holiday with your four-legged friends.

Dog-friendly place to stay: Perfect for a romantic getaway, this one-bed Apartment in Moray is right in the centre of historic Cullen.

7. Staffin Bay

Location: Portree

Dog allowed: All year, no seasonal dog ban

Car park: Within walking distance of Staffin, where parking is available

Staffin Bay, in Portree, has the unusual honour of being home to a set of mysterious dinosaur footprints, which were discovered on a rocky slab on the beach in 2002. If that wasn’t enough of a draw, the part-sand-part-rock beach is incredibly scenic, surrounded by rugged landscapes that include the iconic Old Man of Storr, one of the island’s most famous walks.

Dog-friendly place to stay: The cosy cottage of Glamaig is just one kilometre from the sea - ideal for beach-loving dogs and humans alike!

8. Cambo Sands

Location: St Andrews

Dog allowed: All year, no seasonal dog ban

Car park: Available at the beach

Kingsbarns Beach, also known as Cambo Sands, runs alongside the Fife Coastal Path near the university town of St Andrews. With tranquil woodland trails found just inland, there are some beautiful walks to be had in this corner of Fife, and a splash in the chilly North Sea will shake off any post-walk tiredness.

Dog-friendly place to stay: The stylish Cottage in Fife is located right in the heart of St Andrews, and a short distance away from the coast. 

9. Camusdarach Beach

Location: Mallaig

Dog allowed: All year, no seasonal dog ban

Car park: Parking available just a short walk from the beach

Camusdarach Beach in Mallaig is surprisingly peaceful, given its amazingly clear water and beautiful views out to the Islands of Rum and Eigg. Day trips to these small isles are possible by catching a boat from nearby Mallaig. The beach is also just a one hour drive from Fort William, making it a great base to explore the mountains and lochs of the Scottish Highlands.

Dog-friendly place to stay: The three-bedroom cottage of Coire-Dhiubh is ideally located midway between Fort William and the coast, giving you mountain scenery with easy access to the sea.