Scotland, Orkney and the Hebrides
The east coast of Scotland stretches from the border with England to the breaks of Caithness to the far north. With over 300 miles of surfable coastline, it offers a huge variety of waveriding potential. Around Pease Bay the crowds can be on a par with Cornwall due to its proximity to Edinburgh. To the north, Fraserburgh boasts an almost 180 degree swell window, with the points being the busiest. Heading west from Duncansby Head, the coastline of Caithness unfolds into a series of flat stone reefs, which eventually run into the towering cliffs of Dunnet Head. From the shelter of Dunnet Bay the coastline opens out into flat slate again. Reef after reef leads into the rivermouth at Thurso and onto the natural harbour at Scrabster. Sandside Bay is the last of the Caithness breaks before the bays and rivermouths of Sutherland offer isolated beauty, crystal clear waters and dune-backed seclusion.
The west coast of Scotland is a more complex and convoluted coastline with myriad islands and inlets buffering the mainland from the raw power of the North Atlantic. Many breaks here are reached by a maze of B roads, winding single-track tarmac or island-hopping ferries, but the stunning scenery, white sand beaches and turquoise waves make it well worth visiting.
The Hebrides, composed of grey Lewisian Gneiss, some of the oldest exposed rock in the world, sit off the far northwestern corner of mainland Britain. Their exposed position means that the rock and boulder reefs and quality beach breaks pick up swell from virtually every low pressure system out in the Atlantic. The islands are home to every conceivable type of wave, from firing rocky point breaks to sheltered white-sand beaches that produce Hossegor-type waves. The rugged coastline and winding roads mean that a week-long trip won’t even begin to open up the surf potential of this magical place. The islands are renowned for the storms that come lashing through and the severe winter winds. The east coast of the islands can offer some wonderfully sheltered little gems when the westerlies kick in.
Lying off the northeastern tip of Britain are the Orkney Isles, an extension of the wonderful slabstone geography of the Caithness region and an offshore account of fairly interest-free reefs and points. Add to this the fact that the islands pick up more swell than the mainland and you have a place of amazing surf potential. The waves are powerful and the rips can be dangerous.