Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 12:59 UK

Fresh water loch wins beach award

Loch Morlich [Pic: Anne Burgess]
Loch Morlich was among 60 recipients of the award

A fresh water loch has become the first to be recognised as having one of the best beaches in the country.

Loch Morlich, at the foot of the Cairngorms, was one of 60 beaches to be awarded the Seaside Award by the Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) campaign.

It is the first time a fresh water loch has received the accolade.

Seven beaches - one more than last year - and a marina were also awarded the internationally-recognised Blue Flag for their cleanliness.

The Seaside Award programme has been recognising Scotland's beaches for their litter management, information provision, risk assessment and safety procedures, and water quality for the past 17 years.

John Summers, chief executive of KSB, said: "The beach awards are becoming increasingly difficult to hold on to, particularly following two such wet summers which have caused water quality problems for a number of beaches.

"So I am particularly delighted to see more beaches joining the award schemes, especially Loch Morlich which is not only our first fresh water Seaside Award winner, it will also be the highest award beach in the country at 300m above sea level.

"I would like to pay tribute to all the hard work that goes in to achieving these awards by local authorities and communities and urge people, particularly in this economic climate, to get out this summer to visit - because we really do have fantastic beaches to be proud of."

'International standards'

Tourism Minister Jim Mather said the country's beaches and coastline made an "enormous contribution" to the distinctive Scottish experience for visitors and residents alike.

"It is encouraging to see more and more of our beaches surpassing international standards for quality and cleanliness and as more and more visitors from home and abroad take part in our Homecoming celebrations, there is no better time to enjoy Scotland's seaside for themselves," he added.

"From our wonderful scenery to our compelling history and with a diverse range of over 300 events taking place throughout the year, there will be something for everyone during Homecoming 2009."

The Blue Flag winners were the beaches at Montrose, Broughty Ferry, Aberdour Silver Sands, Burntisland, Elie Harbour, Elie Ruby Bay and the West Sands at St Andrews, along with Kirkcudbright Marina.

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