The Beaches of Sanday, Orkney

Sanday, as its name suggests is a place of sandy beaches.  These beaches are some of the most beautiful I have seen in the U.K..  Most are wide sweeping sandy beaches although there are rocky coves and inlets.  In the summer they are gentle places to watch the slow ripples and enjoy the sunshine.  However, come the winter they can be turbulent places with crashing waves and wild winds.

None of the beaches have facilities beyond information boards and possibly a picnic table.  These really are wild beaches for enjoying.


Otterswick is a shallow bay with some of the calmest water on Sanday.  It is also warmest as the shallow water can heat in the sun and is edged by sand dunes blanketed in wild flowers!  There is a small ruined building disappearing into the sand near the parking and a lazy walk along the beach takes you to the abandoned village of Ortie.

 The wide sweeping bay of Otterswick on Sanday in Orkney



A long inlet with another sandy beach is found at Stove.  The haunt of owls during the inter months.  This bay has a ‘Model’ Farm.  Now in ruins this was once a industrialised farm with a steam engine house and a tall red-brick chimney.

 Stove Bay on Sanday with a model farm now in ruins


Backaskaill Bay

Just a short walk from the village of Kettletoft is the pretty beach of Backaskaill. With rolling sand dunes it is a perfect spot for some bird watching.   It starts as a rocky headland from Kettletoft before sweeping round into a wide sandy beach.

 Backaskaill from Kettletoft


Peedie Sea

Home to waders the Peedie Sea is a large sandy inlet that sits behind sand dunes and Sty Wick.  It is tidal and becomes a wide sandy beach at low tide and a calm shallow pool at high tide. Peedie is Orcadian for ‘small” and it is clear to see where the name has come from at high tide.

 The Peedie Sea is located on Sanday and becomes at large sandy bay at low tide.


Sty Wick

Sty Wick is a wild and exposed beach with oystercatchers and dunlins feeding along the shore line.  Even on a summers day it feels wild and exposed.  At the far end of this beach is Quoyness Chambered Cairn.

 Sty Wick is a vast sandy beach on the Orkney Island of Sanday


Cata Sand

A beautiful bay lined with small sand dunes gradually increasing to massive mountains of dunes.  The path is full of heart’s ease and eyebright as well as small birds darting about in the grasses.  Waders make the Cata Sand their home and they can be heard as you wander towards the dunes and the Bay of Newark.

 Cata sand is home to waders on the Orkney island of Sanday


Bay of Newark

Walking over the huge dunes from Cata Sand a new bay becomes visible, the Bay of Newark.  Sweeping sand flanked by massive sand dunes this is a wild place in winter storms but calm and tranquil in the summer months.

 Newark Bay with high sand dunes and white sand


Bay of Lopness

This bay is similar to lots of other Sanday beaches with the exception of its hidden secret.  When the tide goes out the remains of a World War 1 German ship, the B-98 become visible on the shore line. 

 Bay of Lopness on Sanday with the remains of B-98


Scuthvie Bay

This wide sweeping bay has multiple identities from high sand dunes round to a pebble rocky shore.  Over looked by Start Point Lighthouse this bay feels like the edge of Sanday.

 Scuthvie Bay on Sanday has gentle sand dunes


Bay of Sandquoy

This beach starts as a rocky landscape running parallel with the road but as he road pulls away from the coast a long sandy beach extends into the distance.  

  Sandquoy image by Pauline W
Sandquoy image by Pauline W


Whitemill Bay

Coming out over the sand dunes at Whitemill Bay is like stepping onto a tropical island.  With North Ronaldsay in the far distance the gently sloping bay is like a dream.  Approach the same bay on a stormy day and you will know that the reality is a beach in the far north of the Atlantic.

 Whitemill Bay on Sanday



This beach is reached by walking through a working farm from the nearby kirkyard.  It is a gentle beach with a hidden secret.  Tucked in the sand dunes after a storm the remains of a Viking burial emerged. Now fully excavated the site is marked with an information board but it is easy to imagine the burial and the landscape. 

 Scar is the home of a viking burial on Sanday, Orkney


Bay of Brough

Bay of Brough is a shingle beach with small boats hauled out.  The rocks are perfect for rock pooling and snorkelling and you may be lucky to have a visit from an otter.  The nearby Ayres Rock campsite makes this a fantastic location for sunset, sunrise and star gazing

 a small shingle bay on Sanday


Icons made by Freepik from is licensed by CC 3.0 BY


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 Sanday is an island in the far north of Scotland in the small collection of islands called Orkney. The beaches on this island are all beautiful with sweeping bays and golden sand.


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8 thoughts on “The Beaches of Sanday, Orkney”

  1. Wow so many beautiful beaches in one place. It’ll be so hard to choose which ones to visit. Hmmm

  2. every time i saw your post is make me happy .. the picture all is so nature and beautiful . heaven

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