Beautiful large sandy bay overlooking Inchmarnock and Arran
A truly beautiful large sandy bay facing south west overlooking the northern tip of the island of Inchmarnock, the north-eastern tip of Arran to Lochranza with its impressive mountain scenery, and the Kintyre peninsula beyond.
The sands of Ettrick Bay gently run to the sea, and at low tide can extend to several hundred metres deep. Running for just over a mile north to south, punctuated by three small burns (two of which are bridged), this vast expanse of space ensures it never feels busy even at the height of summer.
Beautiful whatever the weather...
On stormy winter days the winds run in off the Atlantic, sheltered only by the fairly low-lying Isle of Gigha and the Kintyre peninsula. It will certainly make you feel alive! But Ettrick Bay beach is always worth a visit even in the worst weather because there really is nowhere like it. Exhilaration at its absolute best!
Catch it on a nice day and it's an absolute joy. Tons of space, crystal clear waters, soft golden sands make for a perfect family picnic, romantic stroll or dog walk. The bay is popular with watersports enthusiasts, too, and you'll often find paddleboarders and kayakers on the water. Thankfully though, jet skis are rare.
No wonder then that Ettrick Bay is popular with wild campers who can nestle into the adjoining strip of greenery for shelter. Leave only footprints!
A birdwatcher's paradise...
At the very southern tip of Ettrick Bay you'll find a free-to-use community bird hide just off the A844 road a couple of hundred yards south of the car park. There's hard standing for 2 cars beside the carriageway, and a wide level timber walkway assures easy access too.
Depending on the time of year you'll spot many species of gull, terns, gannets, Manx shearwater, oystercatchers, herons and curlew. Occasional visitors include sanderling, knot, greenshank, whimbrel, Slavonian grebe, divers and egret. Over winter you're likely to see widgeon, teal, mallard, geese, godwit, ringed plover, dunlin, redshank and lapwing. Snow bunting have also been known to visit.
There are no toilets at Ettrick Bay South. The nearest conveniences are at Ettrick Bay North tearoom (1 mile walk) during opening hours.
Ettrick Bay Tearoom is 1 mile north of the car park, open daytimes (opening hours vary by season) and serves a wide range of snacks, meals, drinks and ice cream. However, just south of the car park are various picnic tables.
Compared with other island beaches, Ettrick Bay doesn't seem to attract much marine wildlife although at the rocky sections at either end of the bay you may sometimes find the occasional seal or otter family.
There's plenty of bird life, though, and the nearby bird hide is a great vantage point.
On 17th September 1910, Andrew Blain Baird, an aviation entrepreneur, flew a plane of his own design and manufacture to record the first All-Scottish heavier-than-air powered flight - and he undertook this amazing feat on the sands of Ettrick Bay beach.
Today, the Baird of Bute Society seeks to use the example of Andrew Baird to inspire the youth of Scotland to aspire to achievement in their own lives, through a series of scholarships, events and activities.
Image credit: Chris Markwell
There is a small free car park accessed over rough ground, capacity 8-10 vehicles. There is also unofficial, but often used, parking on grass verges nearby.
Nearest Postcode PA20 0QG
Bus service (4)90 terminates at Ettrick Bay North - about a mile up the same beach. During summer, the open-top tour bus passes Ettrick Bay South several times per day.Show in StreetView