Brora, the best British beach you’ve never heard of

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With great water sports, coastal walks, wildlife and an ice-cream parlour, this idyllic spot in Sutherland is the perfect hangout – and no one seems to know about it

I was weaving through an underwater forest, russet strands of seaweed billowing around me like mermaids’ hair. As we snorkelled, the water was at times shallow enough that my fins scraped the sand; at others, the kelp-smothered rocks seemed to drop away, leaving the seabed out of reach. A flicker of movement in the corner of my eye had me spinning around to find my guide, Rhionna, pointing to a small, crimson-red sea anemone on a dark rock, its tentacles quivering in the current.

Afterwards, we sat in the shallows and peeled off our fins, moving back and forth with the motion of the waves. A cluster of bemused campervanners were watching from above. And who could blame them? Like them, I’d never associated the North Sea – least of all far northern Scotland – with snorkelling. “How was it?” one asked once I’d dripped my way up to the car park. “Absolutely brilliant,” I say, my cheeks strained from smiling.

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