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Five beaches in Highlands win national award – and here's where they are

By Caroline McMorran

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Three beaches in neighbouring Sutherland are among 52 across Scotland to have scooped a prestigious beach award which celebrates clean, well-managed and sustainable beaches.

Brora beach; Sango Sands in Durness and Dornoch beach will all be flying the coveted beach award flag this summer.

Only five beaches in the Highland region made the grade, with Loch Morlich and Nairn Central also winners.

Beautiful Dornoch beach has a special wheelchair service that enables people with disabilities to access the sands.
Beautiful Dornoch beach has a special wheelchair service that enables people with disabilities to access the sands.

Scotland's Beach Awards, which is is in its 31st year, is run by environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful. Award winners must meet a range of criteria including beach safety, access and facilities and cleanliness.

SEE ALSO: From wilderness to award-winner – Gairloch Sitooterie does it again

The focus of the awards is on three key areas – access, facilities and safety, local environmental quality; and community and heritage.

The awards are also designed to complement the work undertaken by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) on bathing water quality.

Keep Scotland Beautiful awards officer Jamie Ormiston said: Scotland's Beach Awards are the benchmark for quality. Our award-winning beaches demonstrate excellent beach management and we hope that all who visit this year play their part in keeping them beautiful.

"I would like to thank all those who do so much to protect, maintain and enhance our beaches, protecting the sand and sea for us all to enjoy."

Fife retains its title as the region with the highest number of awards, boasting 14 winning beaches. Aberdeenshire and East Lothian follow with eight beaches receiving the awards.

All three winning Sutherland beaches are managed by community councils – Brora beach by Brora Community Council; Dornoch beach by Dornoch Community Council and Sango Sands beach by Durness Community Council.

In contrast, Morlich beach is managed by Forestry and Land Scotland and Nairn Central by High Life Highlands.

And the Sutherland beaches are also long-time winners of the award with all having received it consistently for more than two decades.

Mr Ormiston said: "Last year we celebrated 30 years of beaches achieving awards, with St Andrews West Sands and Gullane Bents in East Lothian achieving the accolade consistently.

"Nairn Central and Aberdour Silver Sands have now received the accolade consistently for three dcades. Additionally, 40 beaches on the list have successfully achieved an award for 10 or more years."

A map showing all the award-winning beaches with directions, facilities and images can be found at: www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/beach

How does the scheme work?

To gain an award, beaches must meet standards across three areas of Scotland's Beach Awards. These are: Access, Facilities and Safety, Local Environmental Quality, and Communities and Heritage.

Individual criteria points are categorised as ‘major’, ‘minor’ or ‘best practice’.

KSB says: "Beaches are assessed by a desk assessment and site visit by a trained assesor. We visit sites annually between 1st June – 15th September. Any new entrants to the scheme will receive an additional site visit prior to an award being given."

It adds: "Are you a local authority, land manager or community group that would like to see your beach recognised with Scotland's Beach Award? Find how to get awarded here."

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