NINE out of 10 Scots visited the coast in the last year – but there are calls to improve seaside facilities to help people get more out of

the great outdoors.

This year has been dubbed Scotland’s “year of coasts and waters” by tourism bosses keen to encourage visitors onto islands and beaches and along the country’s canals and lochs.

New research by Marine Scotland, the agency responsible for the management of our seas, has found 90% of Scottish people visited the coast over the past 12 months.

Work carried out by pollsters YouGov for the Scottish Government body found walking and wildlife watching were among the most popular activities for older visitors and the seaside is still seen as a “cheap day out” for families.

However, the work found many want better toilets, walkways and parking to be made available to help more people enjoy the landscape.

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Those living near the coast said they see it as a “valuable and low-cost resource” for spending time outside, keeping fit, looking after their mental wellbeing and keeping children occupied.

More than one-third of people wanted more information about what Brexit will mean for our waters and around the same level want to know more about climate change impact.

Researchers also found that Scots fear “not enough is being done to protect the environment, with nearly a third of residents believing that the health of Scotland’s seas has worsened in the last year”.

Discarded plastic bottles, bags and microplastics topped concerns about litter in the marine environment and were said to have a “direct impact” on families living near and visiting the coast.

More than 80% said government and businesses should do more to protect the environment and women were more likely than men to indicate that households should also look after the natural world.

Marine Scotland said: “Many individuals felt reducing marine litter in Scotland is a joint responsibility which requires both residents and businesses to commit to more responsible use of the marine environment, as well as for both local authorities and the Scottish Government.”

The findings will be used to help develop policies and Marine Scotland said they point to opportunities to “improve facilities and access to coastal areas to reduce barriers to using them”.