Sutherland is one of the best areas in Europe to find wide-open expanses, wilderness, and true isolation. Visitors to its breathtakingly gorgeous and rocky landscape will genuinely get away from it all since there are only two people per kilometre. The top ten Sutherland attractions are listed below.
The famed North Coast 500 road trip passes through this charming tiny town in the far northwest. A traditional azure blue bay, which shimmers when the tide and sun are just right, is one of its stunning surroundings.
A small, free parking lot and bird-watching hide are available for anyone who wish to remain, making them ideal for pausing to take in some of the local wildlife. For guests planning longer stays, there is also a hotel, campground, and bed & breakfasts. While some of these are open all year round, many of them close during the winter.
2. Cape Wrath, Durness, and Sango Bay
Cape Wrath is known the world over for its beautifully evocative name, and its remote location only adds to its charm. The only way to access the road leading to the Cape Wrath lighthouse from the rest of the mainland is by seasonal ferry.
Sango Bay, with its lovely dunes and cliffs, is close by, and Smoo Cave, with its magnificent internal waterfall, is also nearby. It is simple to visit both of these natural wonders while travelling because they are both close to the major road and have access to free parking. There are times of the year when the cave is open for tours.
3. Stoer Head
A few miles north of the charming village of Lochinver, Stoer Head offers stunning views of inland coves and islands, as well as the white Stoer Lighthouse building and an eye-catching sea stack. Parking in the small, free parking lot next to the lighthouse is required; there is a limited amount of space.
Then, head north along the occasionally muddy and slippery walk to the sea stack at Stoer Point. If you get off course, just keep the cliffs to your left (as you head north) and do the opposite when you want to go back; just be careful not to get too close to the edge.
The short ascent to the trig point at the tip of this tiny peninsula, which gives stunning 360-degree views of Handa Island and some of the northwest’s most famous peaks, including Suilven, may also be something you want to do.
This historically significant burgh town, which boasts exquisite architecture, is situated in Sutherland’s southeast corner and looks out onto the firth that gives it its name. There are miles and miles of gorgeous sands on the beaches that overlook the Dornoch Firth for those who trek there.
The town itself is also worth a little stroll through. Along with its 13th-century church, Dornoch also boasts the old jail, which is now a shop, and Dornoch Castle, the former bishop’s residence. Golf enthusiasts will also enjoy a round at the renowned links course, Royal Dornoch Golf Club.
5. Falls of Shin and Achness
There are several beautiful waterfalls in Sutherland. There are two lower-level falls around the town of Lairg that are both worth visiting. The Falls of Shin, which are on the River Shin just south of the town, has long mesmerized visitors with their scenic grandeur and the yearly natural spectacle of salmon starting to “run” the river in preparation for spawning. Viewpoints offer spectators a bird’s-eye perspective of their heroic deeds. The site also has a visitor centre with a sizable free parking lot, which houses a cafe and a small store.
The far less well-known Achness Falls are a few kilometres to the west of Lairg. You may reach these low-level falls with their distinctive rock formations after a very short walk from a modest parking area. It’s a peaceful setting where you may pass some time.
6. Achmelvich Beach and Lochinver
One of the most beautiful beaches in the area, it is well-known for drawing those who enjoy water sports like windsurfing and water skiing. In addition, dogs are not permitted on the stunning sands during the height of summer, so you can be sure it will be spotless when you arrive.
The village of Lochinver, one of the few settlements in the area, is only three miles (4.8 km) northwest of the beach and is definitely worth seeing. It has a variety of hotels, art galleries, and gift shops, and it is frequently a well-liked starting point for hikers who want to attempt the challenging ascent of the famous peak of Suilven.
7. Strathnaver Museum
Most visitors to the area will be struck by how desolate it is, among other things. Although Sutherland is now among the least populous regions in Europe, this wasn’t always the case. There were a lot more people that called it home in the 1700s and 1800s. But persistent poverty, terrible agricultural failures, and the infamous “Clearances” caused many Highlanders to leave for new lives abroad.
The Clearances occurred as a result of lairds seeking to increase their income from their vast holdings by raising profitable sheep rather than relying solely on the meagre rent received from their small tenant farms.
Many families were forced to leave their homes during the shift so that agricultural animals could graze. As a result, entire villages disappeared from the map. There are many memorials to this terrible episode in Highland history, ranging from the physical monuments to the dispossessed to the wrecked remnants of so-called “Clearance villages,” which still loom big in people’s collective memories.
The Strathnaver Museum in Bettyhill on the far north shore serves as one such reminder by remembering the lives of some of the individuals who formerly called this breathtaking environment their home. In fact, the eviction notices for the congregation were read from the pulpit during one particularly horrific chapter of the Clearances, which took place in this old church.
Speaking about the Clearances, a memorial to those dreadful times can be seen in Golspie on the east coast. One of the Dukes of Sutherland, who was one of the planners of this enormous exodus, has a statue atop Ben Bhraggie, the major hill overlooking this charming coastal village. The statue, commonly referred to as The Manny, can be seen for miles and serves as a sombre reminder of the lives that the Clearances profoundly altered.
The village’s lovely beaches and quaint shops are excellent reasons to visit. The spectacular ruins of the ancient “fortified” dwelling known as the Carn Liath iron age broch are located just a few kilometres to the north of it. The broch (seen in the picture) can be readily reached from a tiny parking lot on the opposite side of the busy A9 road.
9. Loch Fleet
Loch Fleet, a stunning tidal sea loch close to Golspie, is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. At low tide, the lake almost entirely empties, exposing expansive sands that act as a draw for a variety of bird life. Along with many seals, otters also reside in these waters.
These endearing aquatic mammals frequent the loch, where they can frequently be spotted relaxing on exposed sand bars before the tide washes the water away. If you plan your journey carefully, you might get lucky and see them.
10. Dunrobin Castle
This magnificent castle has a rich and interesting past, which includes intimate ties to the family whose forefathers were forever associated with the Clearances. Although much of what is visible now is a result of late 19th-century additions that have turned the structure into a breathtakingly gorgeous fairy tale castle, portions of the edifice date back to early medieval times.
Tourists love the beautiful interior, which is filled with amazing artwork, furniture, and libraries, as well as the ornamental grounds. Throughout the busiest months, the castle also hosts frequent falconry performances that are well worth seeing.