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Travel / Tours / Scotland / North
The north of Scotland
  North Scotland coast
  Farr Beach
  Smoo Caves
  Inchnadamph Lodge
  Further information


The pictures on this page were taken during a trip along the northern coast and the north-western part of the Highlands.

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View of Orkney from the north coast

Beach at Kyle of Tongue (Ben Loyal is in the distance)

From John o'Groats it is a short drive westwards to Dunnet Head, the most northerly part of the British mainland. A lighthouse was built here in 1831 to guide ships safely away from the coastal rocks: this is no longer manned, having been automated in 1989. At Dounreay there is a distinctive dome-shaped building. This is the site of an experimental fast-breeder nuclear reactor, built here in the mid-1950s because of the remoteness of the location. It stopped producing electricity in 1998, but it is expected to take about 30 years to decommission it and clear the area, because of the difficulty of dealing with nuclear waste.

Dunnet Head lighthouse

Peat (used as fuel)

A spaniel walking in the heather

The north-western coastal route becomes increasingly mountainous as you travel from the Caithness region into the area known as Sutherland. Many of the settlements along the coast (for example Bettyhill) were established after the Sutherland clearances. Between about 1760 and 1860 the landowners forced the tenants who were living on their land to move away from their villages in the glens to the coast, believing that the highlands could be used more profitably for sheep farming. Houses were destroyed and violent methods were used to make the people move. There was not enough fertile land and work on the coast to support the people, so poverty and hunger forced many Scots to leave to start new lives in Australia and New Zealand. The landowners did not find that sheep farming was as profitable as they had calculated, mainly because of competition from these New World countries.

Mountain scenery

Sands of Durness

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Farr Beach

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Entrance to the Smoo caves

Guided tour in a boat

Some people use stones to write their names

Watched closely by the local wildlife

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Inchnadamph Lodge:
a popular hostel for travellers or geologists

Loch Assynt is a short walk away

A stream runs beside the hostel

Phone box on the country lane

Time for supper - sausages ...

... and haggis ...
(or vegetarian haggis)

... then time to go to bed

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Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board:

Weather forecast for Thurso:

Lonely Planet verdict: North Scotland
"Carving its way from Thurso to Glencoul, the north and northwest coastline is a feast of deep inlets, forgotten beaches, and surging peninsulas. Within the rugged confines, the deep interior is home to vast, empty spaces, enormous lochs and some of Scotland's highest peaks ... This northernmost slab of the Highlands is the stuff of coastal-drive dreams, a perfect balance between wilderness and unimposing civilisation ... Banks and petrol stations are few and far between, so check your funds and fuel before setting out ... Public transport in the northwest is very patchy"
(extracts from "Lonely Planet Great Britain - 2003 edition", used with permission)
Lonely Planet Great Britain
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Date: May 2007
Lonely Planet Scotland's Highlands and Islands
Authors: Clay Lucas, Joseph Bindloss
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Date: June 2002
Other Lonely Planet publications

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Introduction to Scotland: Britain/Countries/Scotland
Tours in Scotland: Travel/Tours/Scotland
Tours in Wales: Travel/Tours/Wales

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