There’s a whole lot of coast in Scotland, and the sometimes-ignored North Coast has a whole lot to offer. It’s not just cold water and blustery conditions up north, there are also some really secluded and protected spots to go and get your fix.
There is a place called Sango Bay, just below the town of Durness in the north that offers some really sheltered waves when you need them. With The limestone cliffs blocks off a beautiful little sheltered beach from the westerly wind. The beach faces North East, and sucks in all the North swell.
Sango Bay Surfer - Durness
Fun and sheltered, Sango is not that popular and hardly gets that crowded. There’s a wedgey right off cliff at east end and longer lefts in wrapping NW swells. Sango is best in small swells.
Further along the North Coast we get the Kyle of Tongue, a wonderfully named surf destination that has fun waves, a surf school, and surf-based accommodation. Regarded as a ‘glacial inlet’ the waves at Tongue are also sheltered, and pick up distant groundswells. On the right conditions waves here can get really long, peeling down the sides of the inlet.
Surfing in Scotland is always going to be testing and the North Coast is obviously exposed to the elements. The waves in the North are generally more protected from west winds though, but are just as cold as the rest of the country, if not colder. It’s not a deterrent. We have that covered with the best neoprene available these days. There are a number of UK- based wetsuit companies, so make sure you do your homework and have what you need to deal with the elements.
Sandside Bay is a pretty awesome set-up on its day, with a mixed array of waves that come through on a good day. There are some great left-handers that peel into the bay from the harbour, and there are the occasional left and right sand banks that form up on the beach. It obviously like a North swell, but still picks up South West swell if it is good enough. The left can get a bit too low at certain tides, so it’s best to head for the area with enough water in the tide. The only real bummer about this spot, and this area in general, is the dreaded Dounreay Nuclear Reactor.
This nuclear plant has a shady history, with loads of pollution, and we’re not going to recommend too much surfing too close to the reactor. Currently still in decommission, the plant will take a long time to be completely removed.
Brimm’s Ness is where it all happens however, and it’s where surfers congregate in the North. With a bunch of good breaks in the relatively small area, it has a lot to offer the surfers of the area and visitors. There is The Cove, The Bowl and The Point, providing something for everyone. There is a little bit of reef, a slab, and bowl, providing action for all tastes.
The best thing about this area is that it picks up so much of the available swell around, and is generally two-foot bigger than anywhere else. The waves do pack a punch and do require a certain level of competency, but nothing to be too nervous about. Many Scottish surfers have honed their tube riding skills in this area however, so it definitely has something going.
The North Coast is an area that is littered with castles, ruins, monuments and other interesting angles to go and check out when it gets flat or too stormy to go surfing. Just get your latest Biffy Cliro playlist going and have a trusted wing-person in control of the aux.