Dunnet head to Inverness - 205 miles approx.

Censors warning:

If you thought that simpering nostalgia was now over, you are wrong. I've tred my best, but this page is not for the faint-hearted. You have been warned.     Censor.


Leaving the Dunnet Head peninsular the road now continues Eastwards, past the village of Mey, the castle of the same name and the birthplace ancestral home of the late Queen Mother. The next place of note, 17 miles further east, is a bleak windswept promontory known as John 'o'Groats. 

Apart from a Ferry that departs for the Orkneys, weather permitting, the promontory would be pretty anonymous. 

The John 'o' Groats Hotel

Then in the late 19th C someone built a hotel, a copy of the one at the opposite end of the country at Lands End. Ever since then those two points have been recognised as the two extremes of the UK and to travel from one to another, by whatever means, to be a great challenge.

Neither are extremes, Lizard point being the furthest South, Dunnet head the furthest North, but nonetheless the challenge remains.

Here it comes! You have been warned!  - Censor

An ornamental Signpost marks the ceremonial Northern extremity, just as one marks the Southern end at Lands End.

I have stood underneath this signpost three times, once arriving on foot, ywice departing the same way, and twice with my brave, courageous partner who on two occasions walked the distance with me.

Now, standing there, my thoughts took me back to those days, the trials, the endeavours, the courage of my partner, the ..... BLEEEEEEEP! Censored....

*********************  Censored *********************

However, these pages are not for simpering nostalgia! onwards MacAlbert!



The signpost

Leaving John 'o' Groats on the road to Wick a side road is reached which takes the traveller to the often bypassed Duncansby head. It is actually a much nicer place to be. It has a pretty lighthouse instead of an ugly hotel, rolling hills instead of a windswept moor.

The view from Duncansby head. Left the hotel and outbuildings of John 'o' Groats. Centre Mey, distance the whale-backed hump of Dunnet head.

Returning back to the Wick road and Wick is reached in another 17 miles. A most pleasant town, solid grey granite buildings and an attractive harbour waterfront makes it a comfortable place to stop over in and a smattering of hotels and a caravan site provide for those needs. If heading south the need is great for the miles in front are pretty plain and uninspiring.

Wick harbour

Leaving Wick the road, now skirts the coast through monotonous peat countryside until the small attractive harbour of Dunbeath is reached followed by the fishing village of Helmsdale. 

Helmsdale is a village designed to give people a "new life", during the tragic episode of the highland clearances where subsistence farmers and their families were ruthlessly displaced to make room for the cash crop of the day, sheep.

Just outside Helmsdale the remains of the village of Badbea are preserved as a monument to the suffering. On these bleak windswept cliffs so families were forced to eke out an existence in conditions so terrible that many died.

Leaving Helmsdale the coastline now flattens into swathes of glorious, but monotonous, sandy beaches.

Approaching Brora from Helsmdale

Brora is a nice little town. It boasts a beach, a golf club (of course), a chip shop and a railway station. It is also home to a plaque that marks the spot where Polson the hunter killed the last wolf in Sutherland (apparently). Personally I would prefer the wolf to Polson but that's a matter of choice.

The A9 now heads for Inverness in a little bit of a hurry, crossing the Dornoch and Cromarty Firths over three long causeway bridges and bypassing the small peninsulars created by those firths that cut deeply into the North Eastern coast.

Best to go the old fashioned way for those bypassed peninsulars hold some delightful gems.

Leaving Golspie leave the A9 on the left and a small road now follows the edge of the delightful Loch fleet, a beautiful place now preserved as a nature reserve.



Loch Fleet looking inland

Heading south along the seaward edge of the Peninsular and then inland to cross the Dornoch firth the delightful small town of Dornoch is passed through.

Across the Dornoch Firth and another left turn reaches another delightful town, called Tain, better known for the illustrious distillery that is a considerable source of national foreign income and a big visitor attraction. They would not let Albert in though.  

Then another delighful place, a collection of three villages, quiet, peaeuful and boasting delightful deserted beaches.

The beach at Balintore

Entrance to Cromarty Firth

At the end of the peninsular, ;ooling across the Firth to Cromarty is Nigg bay. Here the 19th century is left behind and the 20th century now intrudes for here is a deepwater refuge that plays host to Scotland's other great industry, oil. Here deep water oil rigs are erected, shipped out and brought back to be repaired. 

A last look at the entrance to the Cromarty firth, a Look across where new meets old, and time to head for Inverness and Eastern Scotland.

Industry of the Cromarty firth looking across to Cromarty

Crossing the Moray Firth at Kessock and heading into the Highland capital of Inverness is a reminder that the remote highlands have been left behind and so-called "modern civillisation" has been rejoined.

A morass of traffic signs, roundabouts and industrial estates confront the weary and confused motorist in every direction. More by luck than judgement Albert and I made our way through this industrial morass to excape along the road that travels Eastwards skirting the Southern shores of the Moray Firth.

Onwards my faithful McAlbert! Eastern Scotland awaits ....  

Now, where did I hide the whiskey?


Onward Albert - to Eastern Scotland!


Next section: Eastern Scotland