Idyllic seaside beaches across the north have been voted as some of the best in Scotland – beating off stiff competition from across the country.
A host of sandy locations have been recognised for their high standards by environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful.
Topping the list were 12 beaches stretching across Badenoch and Strathspey, Sutherland and Easter Ross, all of which achieved Scottish Beach Award status.
This year’s winners include Achmelvich Bay, Dornoch Beach, Loch Morlich, Nairn Central, Brora Beach, Embo Beach, Golspie, Melvich, Portmahomack, Sango Sands Beach, Shandwick Bay and Strathy Bay.
In Shetland, five picturesque beaches were voted the best across the islands, with locations including St Ninians Isle, Sands of Breckon, Tresta, West Voe and West Sandwick achieving the nationally acclaimed accolade.
Meanwhile in Aberdeenshire, nine seaside locations achieved award-winning status including Aberdeen city centre Ballroom Beach.
Stonehaven Beach, Peterhead Lido and Inverboyndie Beach won the national accolade alongside Fraserburgh Waters of Philorth, Fraserburgh Esplanade, Cruden Bay, Collieston and Balmedie Beach.
Highland Council convener Bill Lobban said: “The stunning scenery and clean environment are important reasons why people visit the Highlands and our beaches play a huge part in this, as well as being important assets for local communities and their economies.
“Included in the list is Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms National Park, which is the highest award beach in the UK, and the only fresh water sandy beach with an award in Scotland.
“I am absolutely delighted that the successful coast management and excellent quality of these Highland beaches has once again been nationally recognised.”
The winners in the north and north-east make up almost half of Scotland’s 61 winning seashores.
Beaches had to meet a range of criteria to receive the accolade including meeting beach safety, providing adequate access and facilities, and cleanliness.
With the Scottish bathing season set to commence on June 1, the annual Scottish Beach Awards recognise the best beaches across the country and act as the benchmark for local environmental quality all along Scotland’s coastline.
Keep Scotland Beautiful chief executive Derek Robertson said: “With the country set to mark 2020 as Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, it is only right that we celebrate the achievements of communities, organisations and local authorities across the country in making sure that our beaches provide visitors with the fantastic shoreline experience that they deserve.
“Scotland’s coastlines and waters attract thousands of visitors every year. These beach users can be assured that where they see the Scottish Beach Award flag they will have the experience they are looking for: a clean beach, excellent amenities and signposting about the local area, as well as information about water quality.”