Walks in Sutherland

sutherland viewTo the west and south of Caithness in the far north corner of Scotland, lies Sutherland, a little known county, but one containing some of the most magnificent scenery in the world.  The name Sutherland comes from the Norse and the lieutenancy was under the rule of the earls of Orkney for generations. It was known as SuĂ°rland ("southern land") – from the point of view of Caithness and Orkney it is!

From coastal routes to the mountains of Ben Loyal and Ben Klibrek, Sutherland has it all. Part of the Cape Wrath trail is in Sutherland, and the whole of the north coast of Sutherland forms part of the burgeoning North Highland Way, a stretch of magnificent coastline of 114 miles from John o Groats in the east to Cape Wrath in the west. 

Sutherland is a county of two halves and they are distinctly different in terms of culture and history. The eastern seaboard along the coast from Inverness to Helmsdale offers one of the best train journeys in the world. Stunning scenery, tiny remote coastal cottages, the thrash of the Atlantic. To the landward side, masses of colour with gorse and heather in full bloom in the spring and hills just begging for you to walk them. It is not as mountainous as the north, but no less spectacular. The beaches are magnificent.

Walking terrain
The terrain in Sutherland varies. The County is vast and the terrain ranges from glorious long golden beaches, to forest tracks to the rugged mountains of the west. There is something for everyone from Munros to gentle strolls around beautiful tranquil villages such as Durness in the north and Brora in the East.

Where to stay
The area offers a wide range of accommodation from hotels and guest houses, to good quality bed & breakfasts and  hostels.

Where and what to eat
Recommended is the Halladale Inn, Melvich, the Ben Loyal Hotel, Tongue, and Sangos in Durness. La Mirage in Golspie is renowned for its excellent fish and chips. All three places use local produce and have a wide range of dishes. It is impossible to list all of the wonderful places here, but this is just a taster.

Other outdoor activities
Wildlife watching, horse riding, surfing, cycling, fishing,

Other points of interest
Inchnadamph bone caves, Smoo Cave, Borgie Forest,  Loch Eriboll.

Getting there
By air, you can fly into either Inverness (INV) or Wick (WIC). Inverness airport is becoming a major hub. There are flights into Wick from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Kirkwall (Orkney Islands). There are connections to Wick from Aberdeen originating in Norwich, Teeside, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Bristol, Southampton, Stornaway, Cardiff and Humberside.  Alternatively, fly from Gatwick or Luton to Inverness, and drive from there. From Wick, you can drive to the border of Sutherland in about an hour.

The main trunk road, the A9, from Inverness leads north along the eastern coast of Sutherland, one of the most spectacular journeys you will ever drive, passing through picturesque villages such as Helmsdale and Berridale. Enjoy the Berridale Braes – a driving experience in themselves!

By train - Three trains a day leave Inverness to travel the 4 hours to Thurso or Wick. Again the scenery is stupendous as you travel along the coast to Helmsdale, and then across the famous Flow Country, now a National Nature Reserve.

By bus – Enjoy a relaxing 3 hour bus journey around the little villages of the Moray Firth and along the coast. Change at Thurso for journeys along the north coast.

Maps
Ordnance Survey Land Ranger maps LR12 and LR10
Ordnance Survey Explorer maps 451 and 450 

Sutherland



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