IT is famed for its Instagram-worthy beauty spots, but they are often so crowded as tourism soars that little enjoyment can be gained from elbowing through the throng to take a selfie.

But now Scotland’s ultimate hidden gems have been identified after researchers analysed more than 100,000 tourist attractions across the world to uncover a list of “Secret Spots” that have gained a low number of TripAdvisor reviews but a high proportion of five-star reviews.

The top Secret Spot in Scotland is Bosta Beach, on the Island of Great Bernera, Lewis, followed by Mull Head Nature Reserve in Orkney.

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The Secret Spots, compiled by bespoke travel agency Hayes and Jarvis, were gleaned from reviews in the Things to Do section on TripAdvisor and looked at the attractions in the bottom 40 per cent for total reviews.

The attractions were then ranked by the percentage of five-star reviews, if two attractions had an equal percentage of five-star reviews, the percentage of four-star reviews broke the tie.

Each entry required a minimum of 50 reviews to account for outliers and brand new attractions. 

HeraldScotland: The stunning Trotternish Ridge on the Isle of SkyeThe stunning Trotternish Ridge on the Isle of Skye

But fears over drawing attention to more of Scotland’s natural resources that could then be at risk from the hordes of tourists that descend during the summer months could be unfounded. 

Professor John Lennon, dean of Glasgow School for Business and Society and director of the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “My position is that anything that moves consumers away from those areas experiencing unsustainable demand has to be a positive in terms of visitor experience and environmental impact. 

“Scotland has a wide range of contrasting locations and destinations the majority of which are tranquil and to be discovered. Given the relative remoteness of many of these locations it is unlikely their inclusion on such a listing will result in unsustainable growth.”

Harris’ Huisinis Beach, the Isle of Skye’s Black Cuillin and Trotternish Ridge all make the top 10.

The breathtaking An Lochan Uaine, or Green Loch, in Glenmore Forest, Aviemore is reminiscent of the Canadian lakes found in the Rocky Mountains but is only a three-hour drive from central Scotland.

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The scenic Pentland Hills outside Edinburgh and Dr Neil’s Garden on the banks of Edinburgh’s Duddingston Loch at the foot of Arthur’s Seat are also featured. 

Glenmore Forest Park, a remnant of the Caledonian Forest near Aviemore, and Cuween Hill Chambered Cairn, a neolithic structure in Kirkwall, Orkney take up the last spots on the hit list.

HeraldScotland: The idyllic An Lochan Uaine in Glenmore Forest ParkThe idyllic An Lochan Uaine in Glenmore Forest Park

Meanwhile, a new study of Scotland’s nature reserves has revealed that, as well as being home to important natural habitats and species, their worth to the public is around £28 million.

The National Nature Reserves capital is made up of numerous climate, tourism, recreation, and health benefits which are present across the 56,000 hectares of land owned and managed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)

Natural capital is the stock of Scotland’s plants, wildlife, air, water, and land providing benefits to the people and businesses across the country.

SNH claimed assessing the monetary value of natural capital is one way to show how nature provides many benefits to everyone in their everyday lives.

HeraldScotland: Glorious purple heather across the Pentland HillsGlorious purple heather across the Pentland Hills

Using the natural capital approach to understand nature’s wider benefits can in turn help businesses and other organisations to make more informed decisions based on a broader picture which includes environmental factors.

Francesca Osowska, chief executive of the heritage body, said: “This innovative report vividly illustrates that our nature reserves are providing an outstanding return on investment of time, money and resources. Nature is an asset, but one we need to protect and invest in. 

“Key to this is tackling climate change impacts – and nature is a solution. We need a rich variety of life to be able to sustain food supplies, water and the air we breathe. But it’s not just about conservation –- enhancing our nature is also part of the solution to the climate emergency.  Our nature reserves are critical to our work of ensuring a nature-rich future for Scotland.”