of Scotland, Dornoch
Forests 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 caused.
Snug 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.
Precipitous 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 70ft below.
Thriving 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.
'Stone 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
Visitors who go on guided
tours of Sutherland's only malt whisky distillery are rewarded
at the end with a distinctive peaty dram.
Cromarty 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.
Mellow stone houses stand
in broad, tree-lined streets. 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.
High 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 views.
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.
Side 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.
Small 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.
Founded 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 ruins.
Busy 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.
Fishing 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
Scene of 1869 gold rush
among magnificent hills and tumbling streams. Prospectors may
still find a little gold in their pans.
Iron 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
Resort 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.
Separated from sea by narrow channel, it attracts waders and ducks.
Seals can often be spotted. Access to pine woodland restricted.
Thomas 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.
Village 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.
Fishing boats and yachts
moor in harbour created by Thomas Telford early in the 19th century.
Spectacular 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
Gaunt ruins of 14th-century
castle (not open to public) guard Loch Fleet entrance. Network
of trails from car park through Forestry Commission plantation.
Remains of 1790 cotton
mill, burnt down 1806. Ancient fort tops Creich hill. Nearby lies
Achulong barrow with passage to roofed chamber, from New Stone
Road joining Cromarty
Firth and Dornoch Firth crosses Strathrory River in heart of wild
moorland, with magnificent views. Good walks from car park by
Ruined 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 ten-ants
were thrown off their land. Clan Ross centre is town museum.