Friday 28 January 2022

Camas Bostadh - Scotland's Finest Beach?

I always assumed the best beach in Scotland was Traigh Seilibost on Harris, because that is what the internet tells us. It is pretty photogenic.


But there is a difference between looking good on a screen, and the experience of a beach, as anyone who has been to the storm-tossed beaches of Cape Wrath can attest.

Sandwood Bay, Cape Wrath:

The appropriate place to discover otherwise is a summer evening gathered around a driftwood fire. One of those nights when it never really gets dark, the kind of night when you can still see the white caps of the waves rolling in at 1 a.m. The kind of night when you encounter a stranger on the beach and welcome him into your circle and in return, he reveals a secret: the finest beach he has ever seen.

Kervaig, Cape Wrath:

That would be the appropriate place. Where I actually made the discovery was round my mum's for afternoon tea. My sister had travelled the world, yet insisted that Camas Bostadh on Bernera was the best beach she had ever encountered. She has been all over the place, she has been to Fiji, so her opinion on the matter is pretty definitive. I would have to see it for myself some day.

And then another globe-trotting friend revealed his pick of the world's beaches - Camas Bostadh. This couldn't be a coincidence. It was time to check this out for myself!

The early signs are promising. On a gloomy day the beach appeared spotlit, the obligatory picturesque Outer Hebridean graveyard standing above.

We wound our way down to the beach, the weather improving, sea stacks appearing offshore. Nearer to hand an unusual building turns out to be the remains of an Iron Age house, exposed during a storm in 1993 and rebuilt by the local history society. This is as snug a spot as you will get in the Western Isles, as good a choice of home as the Sands of Uig for a seaborne people.

Once on the sands, blindingly bright now, we paddled in the gentle Atlantic waves.

There is a curious structure standing on rocks at the far end of the beach, exposed at low tide. We went to look at it. It is a tide-driven bell, created by artist Marcus Vergette. This seems an odd choice of location for this project: the beach at Arbroath would seem more appropriate. After all, it has the Bell Rock at the mouth of the Tay. 

So: is this the best beach in Scotland? I am not sure. It is certainly a lovely spot. But if I had to choose, I think I still prefer the corner where Colonsay meets Oronsay in the Inner Hebrides.