Week 10: #oneyearlate – Berriedale to Scourie, along the East and North Coast NC500

True Highland Coos

We left Berriedale and headed north along the NC500 to Wick, stopping at Lybster Harbour for lunch and then up to John o’Groats. We managed to get a photo of Nortia, lined up with the signpost, and a lot of other people, too! We had wanted to get a photo here, as we had taken Nortia to Lands End in 2019, when we did a whistle stop tour of the southwest.

John o’Groats is the most northerly inhabited point of the mainland of Britain, but not the most northerly point – that accolade belongs to Dunnet Head, which we went to next… The route to Dunnet Head is narrow, but there are several passing places so it’s relatively easy, when everyone collaborates. Located at Dunnet Head is a lighthouse, which was built in 1831 by Robert Stevenson, the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island. Originally manned, it is now automated and controlled from Edinburgh. Many years ago on our first trip to Scotland, we ventured up to Dunnet Head, but the weather was so bad, we couldn’t get out of the car, the wind was so strong and the doors closed as hard as you could open them! This time we arrived in bright sunshine and a gentle breeze, we had hoped to cycle up the next day, but in true Scottish tradition we didn’t have the weather, there was drizzle and low cloud, not much wind so midges in great supply! There is space to stop up here overnight, but we chose to check-in at the nearby Dunnet Bay Caravan Club Site.

The Club Site is very popular with NC500ers and families alike. The beach, literally through the gate is great for surfers, paddle boarders and swimmers, we saw a lot, along with the surf school, but didn’t venture in, too! The following weekend it hosted a junior surf championship. We walked along the beach to Mary-Ann’s House http://www.caithness.org/community/museums/maryanncottage/ Mary-Ann Calder moved out of here original family home, built by her grandfather in 1850, in 1990, just before her 94th birthday. Her cottage has been preserved, as the working practices used by the family (including her children) had been unchanged. Just for reference, Dunnet Bay is further north than Moscow.

From Dunnet Bay, we headed west continuing along the NC500 to Talmine on the Kyle of Tongue. Talmine is a small village, with a shop/ Post Office and a campsite. Bayview Campsite https://www.bayviewcampsite.co.uk/ is right on the beach (well separated by a road) with lovely level(ish) pitches and a great view. We were welcomed on site by the free-range cows wandering down the road. The lady who owns the site kept it immaculately clean and tidy, the bins were cleared with such regularity.

We continued our trip along the NC500 to the village to Scourie, having first travelled along the very northern edge to Durness, stopping overlooking the bay for lunch and a quick grocery shop. We passed the Cannonbawz Run 2021, you can read about the event here: https://www.northern-scot.co.uk/news/supercars-and-heroes-turn-out-for-liam-249798/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook&fbclid=IwAR3XFN_8Xmv6l1yEjhTMk_J0PGThRv217pCyWk7AuRSKnRs9RyZ2qoLbxnM Before heading up to the Cape Wrath Ferry.

Many years ago we had toyed with the idea of walking the Cape Wrath path, but these days, we’re a little more laid back so a trip to look at the peninsula was enough! Cape Wrath can only be accessed by foot or ferry and that also depends on the Ministry of Defence (MOD) as the majority of the land is used for live firing and it is the only range in Europe, where forces from land, sea and air can carry out combined exercises and where the RAF can train using 1000 lb bombs. There is a sign at the ferry point informing you whether there are exercises being carried out. Training times are also available online https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/scotland-firing-times

From the Cape Wrath Ferry point, we started to head south west along the NC500, through Laxford Bridge to Scourie. Our stop was at the Scourie Caravan and Camping Site, overlooking the bay and the harbour. https://www.scouriecampsitesutherland.com/ The village has a garage and outdoor store, family-run shop with Post Office, hotel and sculpture studio. We took a lovely stroll along the headland and upto the school, before returning down the Back Road.

We’re heading off again along the NC500. We’re trying to keep up to date, but we’ve had some bad WiFi / 4G connections up in these extreme places… We hope you and your families are safe and well, we’ll be back with more of our trip soon….

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