Dornoch Beach

To the front of an established machair dune system is a beautiful expanse of golden sand. Close to the historic town of Dornoch with its championship golf course, shops and facilities.  The beach is also adjacent to a Site of Special Scientific Interest featuring nesting birds, flora and fauna. There are wonderful views of Dornoch Firth and beyond.


Like many towns in the county of Sutherland, Dornoch has a rich clan history. The name Dornoch comes from the Gaelic, meaning “pebbly place”. It has been suggested that this means the large pebbles in the area were once used as weapons.

In the town of Dornoch there is Dornoch’s Castle Hotel. It sits in the same site as the Bishop’s Palace of St Gilbert in the 13th century. The castle was thought to have been built in the 16th century, but it is unclear when the oldest part of the building dates to. The castle was passed into private hands in 1922 and has since become a hotel. Although a lot of modernisation has taken place since, care was taken to try and maintain the character of the Castle. The castle and surrounding area have a bloody, dramatic history with clans wanting to drive one another out of the area.

The famous golf course of Dornoch is the third oldest in the world after St Andrews and Leith. It was first mentioned in 1616 and since has brought many world class players up to the north of Scotland.

It is notable as the last place a witch was burnt in Scotland, this took place in 1727 and there is a stone commemorating the event.

Natural Space

The area around Dornoch and the beach is stunning. Behind the beach, you can see the world-famous golf course, and beyond, purple hills. The beach is very open and you can see far and wide in all directions. There is a small caravan site nearby with a play park.


Dornoch is a touristy, peaceful town and has a rich history. The surrounding area and view is dominated by the coast and river. It is 43 miles (67km) on the A9 north of Inverness across the stunning road over the Dornoch Firth.

Getting There

Dornoch is off the A9 into town, turn right at town square, and follow signs to beach. The nearest rail station is Tain 8 miles south and Golspie, 11 miles north.  A bus service is provided by City Link and Stagecoach.

Water quality information

This beach is a designated bathing water site. Further information about water quality at this site can be found on the SEPA website. Please observe local signage and only swim where it is safe to do so.


Toilets open daily from dawn to dusk.

Contact details

Highland Council

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Family Friendly Recreation Friendly Sandy Canoeing Toilets Rocky Free parking Windsurfing Cafe Wildlife Reserve Disabled Parking Disabled Access Crazy Golf Campsite BBQ Good for Wildlife Public Rescue Equipment

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