The thousands who will take to beaches across the north to enjoy the weekend’s warm weather can take a refreshing dip safe in the knowledge that the water quality at several spots has been graded “excellent”.
Findings published by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) have revealed that the Highlands’ 16 beaches designated for bathing have met the organisation’s standards.
Those graded “excellent” for water quality include Achmelvich, Dornoch, Dunnet, Gairloch and Sand Beach west of Gairloch.
Ganavan, near Oban, Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms, and Machrihanish in Argyll have also been awarded top marks.
The water at Dores, south of Loch Ness, Ettrick Bay in Bute, Findhorn in Moray and Rosemarkie in Ross-shire have been rated as “good”.
Beaches at Thurso and Lossiemouth were described as “sufficient” when it comes to water quality.
In the north-east, only the water at Cruden Bay was described as being of “poor” standard, with Balmedie and Fraserburgh’s Philorth beaches receiving “excellent” reviews.
The water at Aberdeen Beach was deemed to be of “sufficient” quality, while the water at Collieston, Peterhead, Rosehearty and Stonehaven was described as “good”.
Despite being popular tourist spots, Nairn’s central and east beaches received a damning report from inspectors when they last called in 2016.
But when they returned recently, the water quality was found to be “sufficient”.
Chairman of the Nairn Committee, councillor Tom Heggie, welcomed the improved score last night.
He said: “The better ratings for Nairn central and east beach reflects the work done to make improvements so I would like to thank officers from Sepa, Scottish Water, Highland Council and community representatives for their involvement.
“Going forward, we hope to build on this positive result and put in place longer term action plans for continuing to improve the water quality of our two fantastic beaches.”
Bathing season is regarded as lasting from the start of June until the middle of September.
Sepa’s study showed that 75 of the country’s 86 designated bathing waters meet its standards for water quality.
The Solway area was found to have four beaches with poor water quality.
But environment secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, welcomed the overall positive picture.
She said: “Protecting and improving our bathing waters is crucial for our environment and for local economies which rely on beach tourism.”