Sutherland

Mountains and see along Scotland's northwest Sutherland coast

Sutherland lies to the north, beyond the tourist trail stretching from Inverness to Skye, beyond even Ross-shire’s emerald sweep. It occupies three different coastlines with only a small slice of the northeast given to Caithness, with countless folds, glens, and lochs waiting quietly in the interior to be discovered by the transient visitor. The natural beauty of Sutherland is one of variety where the mountains of the south slide down to level pastureland in the northeast, and while the beauty is undeniable Sutherland’s history follows it like a shadow. The Highland Clearances struck this part of Scotland hardest, and as you make your way along the coasts and upon the narrow inland roads you will see little of man’s presence… Read more...

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The loch's bounty at the Kylesku Hotel, Sutherland, Scotland

Western Sutherland is one of the North Coast 500’s most sparsely populated stretches. Much of the road from Ullapool to Durness is one lane meandering out of the mountains among boulder-strewn heath, and you’re rewarded for exploring the even smaller coastal roads, like the Wee Mad Road of Sutherland, that run through the region’s small settlements. It’s here where you’ll find some of the best eating options in the northwest highlands, and so I figured it would be helpful to collect a few ideas for you to reference the next time you’re exploring the North Coast 500.

One of my favorite finds was SALT Seafood Kitchen… Read more...

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Achmelvich Beach, Sutherland, Scotland

Scotland’s northwestern coastline is studded with pristine strips of white and red sand beaches. More often than not you’ll find yourself alone with the wind, waves, and gulls with nothing to remind you of the current era. As with so many places in Scotland, hiring a car and exploring into Sutherland’s nooks and crannies yields treasures you’ll never lose and which take up no room in your luggage. These off-the-off-the-beaten-path beaches blossom under the onslaught of north Atlantic waves amidst incredibly ancient cliffs falling into crystal-clear waters. The beaches in this post are for solitude seekers and adherents to inner philosophies, for even a short while among the wind and waves is enough to clasp the unnameable… Read more...

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One of the glorious breakfasts at Mackay's Rooms in Durness, Sutherland, Scotland

Before I explored the North Coast 500 I performed quite a bit of research to pick the best stopping points along that mammoth and beautiful drive through Scotland’s northern highlands. There are vast stretches with no obvious place to bed down when your aim is to find a base for a few nights. Sure, you can book any B&B you stumble across, but I prefer not to switch accommodations every night. That’s simply not the best way to see Scotland, or, for that matter, most places.

The North Coast 500 takes you into the remotest parts of the Scottish mainland, places where the main road is a single track and oncoming traffic is sheep more often than not. Read more...

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Beautiful views along the Wee Mad Road of Sutherland, Scotland

Look at any map of Scotland and you’ll quickly gain a sense of the hierarchy of roadways. “M” roads are the biggest, fastest roads only around the central belt, and then you descend through “A” and “B” roads, the biggest of those with a single digit like the A9 and the smallest with as many as four digits, like the B8009. Some roads are so small they don’t have numbers or even names, they’re just squiggly white lines on the most detailed maps. This classification system does a pretty good job of setting expectations for what you’ll encounter out there in the Scottish wilderness — unnamed or multi-digit “B” roads are likely to be single-track and/or gravel, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Read more...

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