and heather-covered hills, sea cliffs and sandy beaches: the
east coast may not have the high drama of the west, but it offers
beauty, solitude and a wealth of history. It takes the visitor
from the ruined brochs of the Iron Age people to the carved
stones left by the mysterious Dark Age Picts and on to the bitter
memories of the Highland Clearances and the desolation they
setting where Dornoch Firth narrows and hills crowd onto shoreline.
Eitag Stone marks site of 19th-century cattle market. Red deer
and other species at Corvost rare animal croft, 4 miles west.
paths are perched 200ft above a narrow ravine carved by waters
of River Class, which snake through clefts little more than
loft wide. Glen Glass approached down track, left of road from
Evanton. A wooden bridge spans gorge where river foams some
golf and fishing resort, straddling mouth of river from which
it takes its name. Fine mountain and moor scenery; sandy bays
indent rocky coast. Pictish remains in surrounding area. Beside
road 5 miles north of Brora stands Wolf Stone, said to be site
of the shooting of Scotland's last wolf about 1700. Brora
of Sorrow', loft Pictish stone carved with cross and animals,
including stags, wolves and entwined serpents. Traditionally
it marks spot where unbaptized infants were buried, but excavation
has failed to find any trace.
who go on guided tours of Sutherland's only malt whisky distillery
are rewarded at the end with a distinctive peaty dram.
Firth used during both world wars as Royal Navy harbour. Gun
emplacements guarding firth entrance still exist. Birthplace
cottage of Hugh Miller, area folklorist and geologist, in Church
Street, now in hands of National Trust for Scotland.
stone houses stand in broad, tree-lined streets. Dornoch Cathedral of
1224 was destroyed in 1570 and later restored, though much ancient
stonework remains. Safe bathing, golf on a course that was in
use in the 17th century, and tartan weaving in what was once
the local jail. Royal
Dornoch Golf Breaks.
cliff above Loch Brora, on which stands 2000-year-old Iron Age
hill-fort. Natural defences of rock and steep slopes were improved
by building a massive wall. Splendid setting with magnificent
white-stone chateau; once a grim 13th-century keep. Transformed
in 1840 by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament.
Gardens set out in formal French style of Versailles. Early
20th-century steam fire engine on display.
road leading north through village passes 10ft high Pictish
stone in middle of a field, inscribed with a fish symbol. Beyond
Edderton, tree-lined main road twists and turns, skirting placid
waters of Dornoch Firth. Local church dates from 1793.
village of neat houses sheltering under massive hills. Unusual
monument on top of Cnoc Fyrish is replica of an Indian gate;
erected by General Sir Hector Munro, who gained distinction
at Relief of Negapatam in India, 1781. Series of paths and lanes
from Evanton lead down to muddy foreshore; excellent place to
watch sea birds and waders.
13th century, converted into parish church. Brahan Seer, a 16th-century
prophet, foretold that disaster would strike. It came true in
1742, when lightning hit during service and the roof fell in,
killing 42 people. Nave and choir restored, rest remains in
holiday village with old private station for 3rd Duke of Sutherland.
Massive statue on summit of Beinn A Bhragaidh mountain to ruthless
1st Duke, who evicted 15,000 tenants between 1810 and 1820 to
make way for more profitable sheep. Golspie
village at mouth of River Helmsdale, claimed to be best salmon
river in Scotland. Ice house built 1840s to preserve fish; Thomas
Telford's stone bridge dates from 1812. Timespan Heritage Centre
and guided exploration tours.
of 1869 gold rush among magnificent hills and tumbling streams.
Prospectors may still find a little gold in their pans.
Age tower or broch with 32ft diameter enclosure within walls
15ft thick. Around it are stone circles showing sites of huts,
and an eerie underground passage or earth house. Outer enclosure
protected by bank and ditches.
and salmon-fishing village of neat stone houses on shores of
Loch Shin. In August streets fill with sheep for biggest sale
in Britain. Many ancient sites to be seen in surrounding hills.
paradise. Separated from sea by narrow channel, it attracts
waders and ducks. Seals can often be spotted. Access to pine
Telford built the Mound embankment across River Fleet to control
the flow of sea water. In season, salmon queue up waiting for
sluices to open and allow them to continue upstream. Woodland
reserve grew up in estuary. Good viewpoint from road.
church has 9th or 10th-century carved Pictish cross. In churchyard
is Cholera Stone, where according to legend a cholera cloud'
was buried after being caught in linen bag during 1832 epidemic.
Stone is never moved in case plague escapes.
boats and yachts moor in harbour created by Thomas Telford early
in the 19th century. Sandy beach.
falls through rocky gorge famous for salmon leaping, as they
return to rivers to spawn. Car park nearby has display about
life cycle of the salmon.
ruins of 14th-century castle (not open to public) guard Loch
Fleet entrance. Network of trails from car park through Forestry
of 1790 cotton mill, burnt down 1806. Ancient fort tops Creich
hill. Nearby lies Achulong barrow with passage to roofed chamber,
from New Stone Age.
joining Cromarty Firth and Dornoch Firth crosses Strathrory
River in heart of wild moorland, with magnificent views. Good
walks from car park by bridge.
chapel built on birthplace of 11th-century St Duthus to house
his remains, which were later moved to 1360 church. The 17th-century
tolbooth was administration centre for infamous Highland Clearances,
when tenants were thrown off their land. Clan Ross centre is
town museum. Tain
If you would like to visit this area as part of a highly personalized
small group tour of my native Scotland please e-mail me: