Kinlochbervie to Wick
Back track and head for Durness perhaps stopping at Keoldale where to the west lies Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly point on the British mainland. A regular ferry and bus trip takes visitors to the famous lighthouse across the Kyle of Durness.
Situated amid wonderful mountain scenery and spectacular coastal views with a mixture of rocky shores and amazing sandy beaches and bays, the village of Durness is the most north-westerly community on the British mainland. However, the village could be more accurately described as a scattered string of crofting townships spread out along the coastal road. The local economy relies on crofting and tourism.
Durness is a popular centre for tourists exploring the north west of Sutherland. It lies at the north west corner of the mainland road network, with routes running east round Loch Eriboll to Tongue or south to Kinlochbervie and Scourie.
In the centre of the village overlooking Sango Bay is Durness Visitor Centre. To the east of the village is Smoo Cave, a large and dramatic limestone cavern that is one of the main attractions in the area. Despite its remote location, there are a wide range of facilities in the village. There is a grocers shop and a small supermarket with a Post Office and there is also a petrol station. Tourist accommodation is plentiful with a number of hotels and bed & breakfasts in the area as well as a camping & caravan site and a Youth Hostel. The village also boasts a restaurant and public house.
Other local attractions include Balnakeil Craft Village. Situated just to the west of Durness, the Craft Village is a former military base that is now home to a variety of artists and craftsmen. Nearby is Balnakeil beach, just one of the many clean, sandy beaches in the area.
Loch Eriboll's most intriguing and attractive feature is Ard Neackie. This is a mound of land prevented from becoming an island by an umbilical cord of sand and shingle linking it to the east shore of the loch where the Tongue road descends from the moorland to the east. Notable for the four large lime kilns built in 1870.
You may also see the names of some ships marked out in white stone on the hillside. The area was used by the british navy as an anchorage.
Continuing on the A838 we cross the causeway at Tongue perhaps a visit to Castle Varrich , a 30 min walk from Tongue. Coming out of Tongue we take the A836 Continuing we reach Bettyhill and the Strathnaver Museum, Telling the history of the Mackay Clan. Also the wide sands of Torrisdale Bay
Passing Melvich bay on the left we soon reach the site of Dounreay Nuclear Power Station.There is a public viewing area nearby, with car parking and interpretative panels. Please note for the security of the site, armed police will be patrolling the immediate vicinity. An exhibition about the history of the site is a feature of Caithness Horizons in the centre of Thurso. This is a free visitor centre that incorporates the town’s museum.
Perhaps try your hand at surfing in Thurso Bay or head to Scrabster Harbour for a Sea Fishing Trip.
The most northerly town in mainland Scotland, Thurso is a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside.
There’s plenty to see and do in Thurso. A a hive of lovely traditional shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. Other great ‘must-sees’ are the circular well house of Meadow Well, a fine public library and the impressive Janet Street overlooking the River Thurso close to Thurso Bridge. Check out the Swanson Gallery which hosts year round exhibitions of fine artwork, or discover the magical world of Glass Creations by artist Ian Pearson.
Thurso is also a major surfing area and a premier heavy cold surf destination which hosts surfing championships, including two World Championships for Kayak surfing. The plentiful reefs, points, river mouths and beaches, on top of the consistent year-round surfing opportunities, make the location a paradise for watersports lovers.
Continue through Dunnet to Mey, where the Castle of Mey and gardens are open to the public.
At Gills Bay there is the ferry to Orkney, you may wish to break your journey and take a day trip to Orkney.
We are now reaching the most northerly/eastern point of the of the British mainland, Duncansby Headand the sea stacks. You must also no miss out John O Groats lies on Britain's northeastern tip, and is popular with tourists as one end of the longest distance between two inhabited British points on the mainland, with Land's End in Cornwall lying 876 miles (1,410 km) to the southwest. Joining the A99 we head south towards Wick look out for Keiss Castle a ruin at the cliff edge. There is the Norland Viking Centre at Auckengill. Also at Auckergill the remains of Castle Sinclair are worthy of a visit .
On into Wick . an old Herring Fishing Port and opportunity to visit OLD Pultney Whisky Distillery The former Viking settlement of Wick is the principal town in the far north of the mainland.
The town sits astride the River Wick, stretching along both sides of Wick Bay, and holds the claim to fame of once being the busiest herring port in Europe in the mid 19th century. The remains of the Castle of Old Wick, often referred to as the Old Man of Wick, sits atop the edge of the cliffs about half a mile south of Wick Bay and overlooks the sea
There is a good clifftop walk to the castle via Noss Head Lighthouse from the tiny fishing village of Staxigoe. Visitors will encounter a wide selection of wildlife along the way including various species of seabirds and puffins and a beautiful scenic beach, popular for windsurfing and sand-yachting, awaits them at the end of Sinclair Bay.
The town’s story is told in the excellent Wick Heritage Centre in Bank Row, Pultneytown (Wick is actually two towns - Wick proper, and Pultneytown, immediately south across the river), which contains a fascinating array of artefacts from the old fishing days.