of Scotland, Caithness
The northern coast offers a
rich variety of scenery, from tall storm-swept cliffs to gentle
sandy bays. The interior offers equally dramatic contrasts between
low-lying windswept bogs and dramatic mountain peaks. Fishing
boats shelter in the area's many harbours. Numerous nature reserves
protect the moorland's rich plant and animal life, with sea birds
to the fore.
Hamlet of crofters' cottages
heated in winter by peat fires. Set in Armadale Bay with fine
view of sandy beach and sweep of shallow water. Main road leads
over two burns, Allt Beag and Armadale, both with twin stone bridges,
old and new.
John Nicholson, 19th-century
antiquarian, extensively studied this region's ancient remains.
Old school house opposite his home now a museum of region's early
human history, a useful starting point for visiting brochs and
other area sites.
Old Ministry of Defence
early warning station is unlikely setting for craft centre; visitors
can watch various crafts, ranging from book-binding and weaving
to jewellery and candle-making. The ruined church of 1619 has
monument to Celtic bard Rob Donn.
Crofting centre and resort
above Torrisdale Bay. To north is Farr Bay, where precious stones
can be found. Salmon fishing in River Naver and trout in Loch
Naver, 15 miles inland. Church dating from 18th century houses
museum of local history. Outside museum is Farr Stone, an early
Christian Celtic stone.
Village with 19th-century
church. Inside church is 1558 memorial to Jan de Groot, who started
ferry service to Orkney in 1496. When residing in nearby Castle
of Mey, the Queen Mother attends ser-vices at Canisbay Church.
Red-rock headland rising
360ft from sea, topped by 7Oft light-house. The Parbh -- 100 square
miles of peat-bog, heather, scrub and rock -- lies inland. Only
link to cape from outside world is ferry across Kyle of Durness.
Cleit Dhubh, or 'Black Cliff, rises 850ft from sea south-east
built for men working in nearby quarries. Castletown's stone has
paved the streets of Glasgow and Edinburgh; stone was sent out
from neighbouring harbour of Castlehill--also built of this stone.
power station's 135ft steel dome dominates flat coastal area.
world's first fast reactor to provide power for public use. Oounreay
Exhibition tells story of nuclear power and has guided tours.
Harbour is home to small fishing fleet. Dunbeath Castle still
lived in but closed to public. Lhaidhay Caithness Croft Museum
displays typical 18th-century complex with house, byre and stable
all under one roof. Old village school houses heritage centre.
Far north-eastern tip
of mainland where lighthouse stands high above entrance to Pentland
Most northerly point
of British mainland. Viewing platform pro-vides 3600 view over
300ft cliffs, taking in Cape Wrath and Duncansby. Lighthouse stands
below viewpoint, its walls battered by stones thrown up by Pentland
Firth in rough weather.
Crofting village spread
out along coast. Along shore is three-chambered Smoo Cave. Its
main chamber, over 200ft deep and 110ft wide, is accessible by
foot. Allt Smoo burn flows from moor-land and drops 80ft into
deep pool inside second cavern.
chambers 2 miles north of Camster date from New Stone Age, beginning
6,000 years ago. Visitors can crawl down passage into chambers.
Long cairn is nearly 200ft. Legless skeletons found in round cairn.
Village based on local
quarries that mined stone for street paving. The Fossil Centre
at Mybster has displays on local flagstone industry.
Steep cliffs on three
sides of island packed with sea birds in summer.
Moorland interior is also home to variety of birds, from skuas
to golden plovers.
Area's best-known building
is Castle of Mey, the Queen Mother's summer residence. Its gardens
open occasionally in summer. Castle Arms Hotel, Mey, has royal
photographs display. Quarries shipped flagstones from harbour
a century ago.
Bronze Age stone formation
on hillock. Rows of small stones form a fan-like formation possibly
for astronomical purposes.
Nature reserve with notable
dwarf shrubs. Skelpick long barrow is 200ft long with two burial
chambers blocked by massive capstones. Remains of Iron Age settlement
with tower stand on rocky slope.
Claims to be mainland
Britain's most northerly village, named after founder of ferry
service to Orkney in 1496, Jan de Groot. Water mill established
1750 operates under original family.
Harbour is important
crab and lobster centre. Keiss Castle, 16th century, stands near
private 18th-century castle. Three-mile stretch of sand on Sinclair's
Bay lies south.
Area's busiest fishing
port has double harbour. Nearby Blairmore starts trail to Sandwood
Village at meeting point
of three lochs, Kylesku is across water. Boat trip up Loch Glencoul
gives views of Britain's highest water-fall, 650ft Eas a Chual
Active fishing community;
broad street runs down to harbour with octagonal lighthouse at
its entrance. Church has finely carved Celtic cross.
Rocky point north of
Wick is crowned by two ruins. Castle Girnigoe, 15th century, has
keep on cliff edge. Castle Sinclair dates from 17th century.
Broad bay, with harbour
of Fresgue to one side and village of Reay sheltering behind dunes.
Small whitewashed church of 1740 has gallery for laird and family.
Pink, pale sand and grassy
dunes, usually deserted except for sea birds and, legend has it,
mermaids. Beach lies 4 miles north of Blairmore, accessible by
rough track. Swimming not advised.
Begun as port for loading
flagstones, town is now main ferry port for Orkney. Path leads
up past lighthouse to cliffs of Holborn Head. Sailing club, sea
Iron Age broch stands
on a spur thrusting out from cliffs. Its hollow walls are 14ft
thick and enclose an interior 22ft across.
Britain's most northerly
mainland town was laid out as Georgian 'new town' by Sir John
Sinclair. Ruined Church of St Peter dates back to 13th century.
Thurso Castle, largely rebuilt, dates from 17th century. Heritage
Village has gabled church,
built 1680. Its boxed wooden gallery was once used by Mackay clan.
Angling in Loch Loyal, 4 miles south. Ruined 14th-century Cais-teal
Bharraich, built on Viking lookout spot.
Ancient settlement, Vikings
once sheltered here. Name comes from Norse Vik, 'bay'. Town plan
is medieval, but buildings are mostly 18th century. Visitors can
watch handmade glass being blown at Caithness Glass.