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Work set to start on £1m project to provide new toilets and car park at Achmelvich Beach

By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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A £1 million project to provide new toilets and extend the car park at a popular north-west Sutherland beach will start later this month.

Highland Council has confirmed that work will begin at the end of January on a new toilet block and 71 new car parking spaces at Achmelvich Beach, which is considered a "hot spot" for visitors.

Achmelvich beach. Picture: Highland Council.
Achmelvich beach. Picture: Highland Council.

It is hoped the new facilities will ease pressure at the beach, which has been ranked as one of the top 10 beaches in the UK by an analysis of the number of TikTok views of the site.

There have long been local concerns about the toilet facilities provided at the beach, with Assynt Community Council describing a former, dilapidated toilet block as 'inadequate'.

Highland Council took the decision not to reopen the unit for the 2022 summer season, saying the structure was "failing" due to rotting on the outside. It was then removed and replaced by a portable unisex toilet unit which had been located at Gairloch beach.

The portable unisex toilet cubicle moved from Gairloch beach to Achmelvich beach.
The portable unisex toilet cubicle moved from Gairloch beach to Achmelvich beach.

However the community council pointed out that a single toilet cubicle was not enough to cope with the volume of visitors to the beach at the height of the summer – up to 150 vehicles have been counted in the area at any one time during the summer.

The new toilet block will have disabled access, baby changing facilities and an outdoor shower.


Achmelvich ranked among the UK's top ten beaches with over 3.5m TikTok views

Assynt Community Council left in the dark over closure of Achmelvich beach toilets

Assynt Community Council pans replacement toilet at Achmelvich beach: Unisex facility is branded 'totally inadequate'

Highland Council to install toilet block from Gairloch at Achmelvich beach after existing unit 'condemned'

The local authority has funded the project with a capital investment of £300,000 in addition to a grant of £500,000 from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund and £245,000 from the Highland Coastal Communities Fund.

The work is expected to be completed in time for this summer season with G Simpsons (Builders) Limited of Beauly appointed principal contractor.

Councillor Ken Gowans, chairperson of the economy and infrastructure committee, said: "Achmelvich is a popular stop on the North Coast 500 tourist route and part of a National Scenic Area.

"It’s important that popular tourist destinations such as this provide appropriate facilities for visitors while protecting and managing the surrounding landscape.

"This new facility has been carefully designed to meet the needs of the public whilst being sensitive to the surrounding environment.”

Chris Taylor of VisitScotland said: "A healthy visitor economy is crucial for the Highlands as a successful visitor destination – it generates jobs and income in rural communities which rely on tourism and ensures we remain a must-visit region.

“Communities are at the heart of tourism, and I am pleased that this project will provide community benefit and create a more positive experience for both locals and visitors. It will mean significant and long-lasting improvement to visitor infrastructure in the region.”

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