The northern tip of Britain. 160 miles approx.

Lochinver is a nice small town, hardly big enough to rise above village anywhere else but it is the major concentration of human life in the Assynt area.

Heading north from Lochinver the "main" road goes straight to Kylescu, but better is to take a "secondary" road that circuits the pensular of Stoer. 

Be warned. The main road is often single carriageway with passing spaces. The secondary road is a narrower single carriageway with fewer passing places. It is also prone to rockfall, as we were about to find out.

A travel stained Albert on the way to Drumbeg

Going to be a long wait

The scenery is dramatic, the coastline fabulous, the road hazardous. Just before the village of Drumbeg, avoiding a jay-walking sample of the local livestock,  we ran foul of something large, solid and sharp. With a terrifying crash and a jolt Albert flew into the air landing on two wheels with shredded tyres.

Thank you to VW and AA rescue, a big thank you to Ullapool motors, we were back on the road by nightfall but the rest of this stretch will just have to wait!

THe stoer - drumbeg peninsular looking out to sea from Drumbeg

Rejoining the main A837 a bruised and battered Albert carrying a shaken and slightly stirred grumbling granny continued Northwards crossing a junction of 2 sea lochs at a beautiful place called Kylescu, before continuing Northwards through some rather bleak and damp high moorland.

Seawards from kylescu, before heading northwards

Half way through this barren wilderness and a road branches off left to the smalll port of Kinlochbervie and some glorious beaches nearby. It was only a 20 minute diversion but Albert and me were quite relieved to rejoin the main road as the 20 minutes were a harrowing ordeal of jay-waking suicidal livestock and large stags playing chicken by leaping out from the moorland 5 feet in front of the car, doffing an antler in an ungentlemanly gesture,  before leaping off again.


The rather attractive coastline from Kinlochbervie. An oasis in a rather bleak landscape.

With shredded nerves and eyes peeled for ungentlemanly stags we headed northwards, past the peninsular of cape wrath. This large area of uninhabited wilderness is a military test range, lots of soldiers playing with their big guns and stags playing chicken with the shells they fire. No roads go to Cape Wrath other than those used by a tourist minibus which in turn is reached by ferry across the kyle of Durness.

Albert and I felt we had enough adventures for one trip, we declined the thoughts of offering ourselves as live targets for the military and continued to the tip of the Durness peninsular and the Northern edge of the UK mainland.

Geodha Smoo and the entrance to Smoo cave.

Now heading east along the Northern edge the scenery changes. Dramatic sea locks, rolling grassy hills and stunning sheltered sandy bays replace the barren hinterland of the previous 50 miles.

Just outside Durness is Smoo cave, the largest cave entrance in Britain and unique in the fact that the cave consists of two parts, the outer chamber formed by sea erosion and the inner chamber by Freshwater erosion. It is reached by a steep descent to a gorge called geodha smoo,once part of the cave system until a roof collapse.

The island of Eileann Hoan from Durness just before the sea entrance to loch Eriboll

From Durness the road now heads inland along the western shore of Loch Eriboll before heading Eastwards back to the sea and crossing the Kyle of Tongue. This is spectacular scenery, first looking inland to the North Western highlands along Loch Eriboll, then Seaward from the causeway crossing the Kyle of Tongue.

inland from the Kyle of Tongue

The delightful village of Bettyhill

Continuing Eastward the country gets more rolling, more open, the coastline more serrated, less gashed by sea locks penetrating several miles inland. The delightfully attractive small scattered village of Bettyhill holds one of the many gems of this coastline, small sheltered bays of golden sand,

The wild waters of the Pentland Firth

Bleak moorland towards Dynnet head

Eastwards from Bettyhill the scenery becomes plainer, flatter, the coast less rugged. Past the eerie domes of Dounreay experimental fast breeder reactor and the metropolis of Thurso bustles with activity.

Thurso is quite a small town, but in these parts it is a heaving, bustling, centre of business, leisure and tourism.

A few miles past Thurso, past the wide sandy Dunnet bay with its rather tacky holiday homes, and a road leads left to Dunnet Head, the most Northerly point of the UK mainland.

The Northern end of Britain is fitting. Whilst it may be a bleak, windswept traverse along the top of the peninsular, the peninsular itself juts into the Pentland Firth atop high rocky ramparts. 

The end.

The Northern tip is a lighthouse. In the car park a tall grey stone announces to the world that this is the most Northerly point. A few bits of touristy interpretaion boards tell everyone what whales and seals there might be bobbing about in the Pentland Firth. 

For me it is a place to find silence. Solitude. A few minutes of reflection.

Ok Albert, Time to head South, to head home.


Next section: North East Scotland