Day out: Achmelvich, Sutherland

Beneath the gaze of north-west Scotland’s Highland peaks are some of Britain’s purest and whitest beaches – one of the most beautiful is Achmelvich

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The narrow B869 twists northwards through Scotland’s rocky countryside, past slopes of wildflowers, half-hidden smallholdings and warm, green woods. 

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It’s difficult to imagine a place more remote, until a signpost for Achmelvich directs you down an even smaller road.

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Achmelvich with Suilven stamping the horizon ©<a href=”http://www.jakegrahamphotography.com”>Jake Graham</a>
Aquatic clarity 

The single track heads west, navigating the valley floor between low, tortoise-back tors. Fissured hillsides of heather and shrub rise and fall beside the car, sinking into grassland before arriving on to the shores of Achmelvich Bay – a sweep of soft, white sand, scythe-like, sheltered between the gnarled rock of two stunted headlands. 

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Achmelvich snorkelling ©<a href=”http://www.jakegrahamphotography.com”>Jake Graham</a>

Down by the water, the scent of airborne salt and the decaying driftline is strong.
The rhythmic roll of the waves is entrancing; the sea’s clarity so great that it’s hard to work out where it begins and the ivory beach ends. And even when the sand dips beneath the surface and out across the aqua bay, the water’s transparency prevails. 

Beneath the waves

The rocks that skirt the bay are a perfect vantage point for watching mats of seaweed pulsate in the surf. They’re also a good launching pad. Drop beneath the waves with a snorkel and mask into a watery world of refracting sunlight and alien life: a crimson beadlet anemone fishing for ocean debris; a sheltering hermit crab; or a rainbow-hued comb jelly oscillating in the swell. 

Beadlet Anemone, Actinia equina
beadles anemone ©Getty

For those who don’t want to leave, there’s The Shore, a basic caravan and camping site, suitable for drivers, hikers and bikers alike. 

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Main image ©Jake Graham