The magnificence of Lunan Bay is in its abundance of natural attractions.
This Angus destination, located about three miles south of Montrose, has a spacious and clean sandy two-mile-long beach that delivers privacy regardless of the increasing numbers flocking there on warm days.
It is backed by sand dunes stacked in valleys as deep as 15 metres in places, giving children (and adults!) the chance for some sand sledding fun.
Lunan Bay is framed by low cliffs that afford shelter, a spectacle and a setting for a glorious three-hour walk that takes in the ruins of the historic Red Castle.
At its northern end close to Boddin Point is a cave and arch where you can hide away before emerging into the sand pools outside.
Other than a nearby campsite and cafe at the car park, Lunan Bay is unspoilt and uncommercialised, attracting walkers, surfers, horse riders, bird watchers and those who simply want to sit on a beach in contemplation.
It is no wonder that so many wanted to tell us why they love coming here.
‘It feels like home’
Helen Taylor has a unique place in Lunan’s history.
The 54-year-old spent her teenage years in a farmhouse overlooking the bay and in 1995 tied the knot with Malcolm to became the final bride to get married at the hamlet’s now closed parish church.
Helen, a writer, now lives in Cannes in the south of France. She returned to Lunan Bay this summer while visiting her parents George and Irene.
“We moved to Lunan when I was 13 so I spent a lot of time at the beach,” says Helen, who has two sisters and a brother.
“Before there was a campsite we used to go camping by the dunes and mum would arrive with hot water bottles because it was freezing!
“It definitely feels like home here and I make sure I come back.
“There’s a beach at Cannes but it has a completely different feeling to here, where it us more beautiful, natural and remote.
“Even on a really busy day there is lots of room here.”
Helen has written a novel on Glasgow called The Backstreets of Purgatory and is currently working on a fictionalised account of Angus.
“Lunan Bay is home so I never take it for granted. There’s now a cafe and a couple of houses but it remains natural.”
‘It is lovely to walk here’
Charlie Lewis Lloyd says that Lunan Bay was one of the reasons he relocated 550 miles.
The 51 year old’s wife Rumanna, an NHS worker, sought a transfer from Brighton so he was in Scotland eyeing up a new place to live when he spotted the beach.
Two years on, the couple live in Brechin with daughter Sylvia, 6, and son Vaughan, 2. Rumanna is now a community midwife in Portlethen and Charlie is a counsellor at Abertay University.
“This beach partly sold it to me,” he says. “When you drive down you get a lovely view and it is lovely to walk here. The children like digging down in the sand and running down the dunes.
“Whenever we have visitors we either take them here or St Cyrus.”
‘It’s better than Spain’
Lunan Bay is “just as good as Spain, if not better” is the assessment of Dundonian Scott Hudson.
This summer Scott, 58, was meant to go to Spain on holiday with his wife Lorraine, 57, but the pair decided to stay at home due to ongoing travel restrictions.
They found a visit to Lunan Bay a pretty good alternative.
“It’s beautiful when you get good weather,” says Scott. “It’s just as good as Spain, if not better.
“The beach is clean and the water is clear. There is very little litter.”
“You can walk to the caves as well as the cliffs,” says Lorraine. “The water isn’t too deep at the shore so it’s also good for kids.”
‘It’s a tradition to come back’
A family trip to Lunan Bay has become a tradition for Dundonian Thomas Barrowman.
Thomas, 52, from Mid Craigie, took his daughter Jay, now 26, on a camping close to nearby Red Castle when she was a child.
“Now it’s a tradition to come back,” he says. “This is one of the best beaches about.”
Jay’s daughter Esme Soutar, 2, joined them on this summer’s return trip to Lunan Bay.
“Esme really likes the rock pool,” says Jay, who lives in Douglas. “She was digging for whelks and loves playing in the water.”
‘It is in the top three’
Michael Hutchinson rates Lunan Bay among the top three beaches he has visited in the world.
Michael, 63, stayed with his wife Trudy, 60, in Fishermen’s Bothy close to the beach.
“It’s possibly the best beach I have been to in this country,” says Michael.
“Even taking in beaches abroad – I have been to the Greek Islands, Malta and Madeira – it is in the top three.
“It’s a beautiful beach and the sea is so clear.”
The couple, who live in Spalding, Lincolnshire, were holidaying at Lunan with their four-year-old Golden Labrador dog Ollie.
“We have been here for a week but it is so nice here that we haven’t needed to travel elsewhere. It’s been ideal for relaxing.
“They have not made it commercialised so it is still attractive.”
Unlike some other beauty spots, Lunan Bay allows dogs at all times of the year.
This meant Otis, a seven-year-old Bichon-A-Ranian, was able to explore and run around on the glorious sand this summer.
“For a dog who doesn’t like water he has enjoyed himself,” says his owner Faye Emslie, 44, a resident of Westhill, Aberdeenshire.
Faye was visiting with her husband Phil, 48, daughter Carrie, 14, and friend’s daughter Sophie Adams, 17.
“I saw a magazine article about a couple who owned a farm and they said that they loved visiting Lunan Bay,” says Faye. “So I Googled it and we decided to come here.
“It’s beautiful and is one of the best beaches in the area – you feel you are on holiday.
“Even though there are lots of cars here it doesn’t feel overcrowded as there is so much beach here.
“We’ve never been here before but would definitely come back.”
Train conductors finally visit
ScotRail conductors Gregor Morrison, 35, and Alex Lindsay visited Lunan Bay after being attracted by the view out of the window.
The pair, who both live in Stirling, had often noticed the secluded beach while checking tickets on trains between Dundee and Aberdeen.
They finally visited this summer – and it didn’t disappoint.
“We always used to look out of the window and think that it’s such a beautiful and empty beach,” says Alex, 28. “It’s even better in real life. Absolutely stunning.
“We didn’t realise there were caves here. They’re really interesting and unusual to see.
“The line up to Aberdeen is one of our favourites to work on because you see so much of the sea and cliffs.
“I have been to beaches in the US, Spain, Greece and Turkey but am blown away by Lunan Bay.
“I have been to Cocoa Beach in Florida, which is great for surfing and visiting but this pips it at the post.”
Roly polies on the sand dunes
Lunan Bay’s sand dunes are a big attraction for eight-year-old Lexi McSharry.
“I like to go up to the top, roll down and do the roly poly, especially on a hot day” she says.
Treating Lexi to a trip away from their home in Arbroath was mum Kerrie Watson, 37.
“You can get a beach sledge type thing and slide all the way down from the top of the dune,” Kerrie says. “It’s fun. You don’t normally get sand dunes as high as this.
“It has a beautiful beach, with golden sand and clear water. We also like looking at the castle.
“I have been to beaches in Spain and this is like being there, with the sand and clear blue water.”
Seal ‘only yards away’
One of the highlights of Penny Langran’s holiday was getting up close and personal with a seal off Lunan Bay.
Penny, 56, took a trip to the Angus beauty spot with her husband Mark while the Essex-based couple were staying in Banchory.
On one of the warmest days of the year she decided to take a dip – and wasn’t disappointed.
“I saw a seal while I was swimming,” she says. “It got really close and was only a few yards away, which was a real highlight.
“It seemed inquisitive and wondered what was going on in the beach. Things like that are very special.”
Mark, 56, says: “I grew up in Cornwall where there were some lovely beaches and this is right up there with them.”