My Favourites

Along much of Scotland’s western seaboard, long arms of the sea reach far inland. These sea lochs have many similarities to Norwegian fjords and account for a huge length of Scotland’s coastline. Choose from more than 80 different sea lochs to see the changing colours of inshore seaweed as the tide rises and falls, watch herons and seals and look for otters.  

Where to see them

You’ll find sea lochs all the way from Kintyre in the south (West Loch Tarbet) to Kinlochbervie in the north (Loch Inchard). Loch Eriboll is the lone sea loch on the north mainland coast. Shetland has its own variation – the voe.

Longest sea loch of all is Loch Sunart, which snakes between Ardnamurchan and Morvern to end just east of Strontian. Travel the A861 and B8007 to get plenty of views of the loch and its oakwood-clad shores and to check for otters offshore. In Shetland, Weisdale Voe gives some spectacular views south down the Shetland mainland on a clear day.

What to look for

At the inner end of sheltered sea lochs, saltmarsh – often grazed by sheep – can be a good place to see salt-tolerant plants such as sea pink and sea aster. Beds of seaweed just offshore can be good areas for otters to hunt for crabs and fish. Rocky skerries in sea lochs are sometimes used as seal haul-outs, while the water provides good fishing for birds such as divers.

Interesting facts

A typical sea loch is narrower and shallower at its entrance to the sea than it is in its basin. This is because the ice flows that gouged the lochs would have been heavier inland than at the sea rim, where seawater would melt their edge and make them drop rocks. Each sea loch still has a sill of boulders and gravel at its mouth, where the currents flow much faster than in the sheltered basin.