From Lairg to the Most Northern Point of the Mainland
A836 is one of Scotland's dream roads. -
It starts soon after Bonar Bridge and is a long lonely ride up to Tongue.
We left Inverness, the Black Isle, and Dornoch Firth at the eastern coast behind us. Now we are off the heavy traffic motorways.
Inland at last. We are reaching Bonar Bridge and Lairg.
Behind Lairg begins the long, lonesome single-track. The rules are quite simple here:
The first to reach a 'Passing Place' stops to give room to oncoming traffic. The passing driver signals his thanks by hand sign.
Weather is getting worse, but the more awesome the mountains do appear.
'Ben Klibreck' in sight.
It's an old Scottish saying that each glen boasts of its own weather.
Castle Varrich and the Kyle of Tongue in the distance.
We make a short detour.
It was built some time in the 11th century...
...and is owned by the Mackays, who still have the majority here - Mackay county.
The castle is not really much - all the more so is the view on the Kyle of Tongue.
On we go along the eastern shore of the Kyle of Tongue, passing Coldbackie, Borgie, and Leckfurin to our next stop:
The 'dream beach' of Bettyhill.
Even a service station you can find here. By the by, this car crashed down the cliffs of Durness.
Over this narrow bridge we go on towards Bettyhill.
From the distance we can make out an inviting beach.
Around the corner...
A short way cross-country and to the beach.
Why travel to the south? Here we feel like in the Caribbean.
A clean beach, clear water, and no one in sight.
Take a coffee and 'Sticky Toffee Pudding' in the cosy coffee shop...
and on we go, passing the Strathnaver Museum, towards Armadale.
Not far behind Bettyhill we reach the junction to Kirtomy and Swordly.
It just looks inviting and we make a stop.
A small hamlet with its widely spread cottages.
Lonesome - not only at high noon...
This path seems to end in the Atlantic Ocean...
We have to move with care because at some spots it goes straight down - about 30 metres.
No sandy beach, only rocks. Neither do we get a glimps of any otters.
Behind Armadale we after a few miles turn off at Strathy.
It's quite lonely here - only a few sheep glare at us in a sort of surprise.
Nothing on here, just quiet and loneliness...
... and the unavoidable sheep of course...
...at a place named Totegan - were even the toads are gone...
A few miles later we reach the lighthouse of Strathy Point.
Slowly we continue in eastern direction...
including changing weather, too...
Passing Portskerra, towards Dounreay and over the Bridge of Forss to Thurso.
In a supermarket with first rate view to the Atlantic Ocean we replenish our supplies.
The old castle on the area of the Dounreay nuclear power plant.
In 1977 there was a tremendous explosion by which radioactive material polluted the ground and was widely spread.
Finally we reach Thurso, in Gaelic Inbhir Theorsa. In the background Dunnet Head can be made out already.
Thurso is the most northern town of the Scottish mainland.
Close to 10,000 inhabitants, a few discos, hotels, and some charming shops.
In the 'All Stars Factory' cinema we have seen many a 'Harry Potter' movie.
Now it is closed - what a pity...
We'll miss it - therefore let us take a look at a few more memory photos:
It is a placid town without hectic...
St. Andrews Church
What a supermarket: When paying at the checkout you look out to the Atlantic Ocean!
However, there's no need to buy everything you see...
One last glance from the campground out to the Shetlands and to Dunnet Head, the most northern spot - our destination.
First there is a stop at Castletown. Afterwards we reach one of Scotland's most beautiful beaches:
Always in sight: Dunnet Head
Close to Castletown we visit Castletown Hill
At the Heritage Center time came to a standstill.
...on we go without ringing up anyone...
... passing an awesome landscape of dunes...
Soon we're reaching Dunnet
If you take along your kids, do make a longer stop here...
Quite hot again and what a refreshment is the Atlantic water!
Our B&B was described as 'At the phone box'...
A swell bed - a fitful night however for two tall sleepers...
Now we're passing Brough and are there at last:
Dunnet Head, the most northern point of the Scottish mainland
Charles-Henry, the most northern bull of Scotland
Along 'Black Loch', 'Many Lochs', and 'Long Loch' towards the northern coast
Bird colonies, just like Faraid-Head and Handa-Island
In the distance the Isle of Hoy of the Orkneyss can be made out...
So here ends the road and the mainland as well...
For a long time we enjoy the view before returning.
Near Brough we finish the day by watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.
Our next destination will be the Highland Games. We'll then go to Castle May via Scarfskerry, only a few miles from here.