Scotland 24/7 - The definitive guide to travel and tourism in Scotland

DORNOCH

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.

Ardgay

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.

Black Rock Gorge

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.

Brora

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.

Clach a' Charridh

'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 any trace.

Clynelish Distillery

Visitors who go on guided tours of Sutherland's only malt whisky distillery are rewarded at the end with a distinctive peaty dram.

Cromarty

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.

Dornoch

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.

Duchary Rock

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.

Dunrobin Castle

Glowing, 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.

Edderton

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.

Evanton

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.

Fearn Abbey

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.

Golspie

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.

Helmsdale

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 tours.

Kildonan

Scene of 1869 gold rush among magnificent hills and tumbling streams. Prospectors may still find a little gold in their pans.

Kilphedir

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 ditches.

Lairg

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.

Loch Fleet

Birdwatcher's paradise. Separated from sea by narrow channel, it attracts waders and ducks. Seals can often be spotted. Access to pine woodland restricted.

Mound Alderwoods

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.

Nigg

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.

Portmahomack

Fishing boats and yachts moor in harbour created by Thomas Telford early in the 19th century. Sandy beach.

Shin Falls

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 salmon.

Skelbo Woods

Gaunt ruins of 14th-century castle (not open to public) guard Loch Fleet entrance. Network of trails from car park through Forestry Commission plantation.

Spinningdale

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 Age.

Strath Rory

Road joining Cromarty Firth and Dornoch Firth crosses Strathrory River in heart of wild moorland, with magnificent views. Good walks from car park by bridge.

Tain

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.

ABERDEENSHIRE

» Arbroath
» Ballater & Balmoral
» Banff & Buchan
» Caerlaverock Castle
» Callander
» Castle Sween
» Claypotts Castle
» Dornoch
» Drum Castle
» Dunbeath Castle
» Dunnottar Castle
» Dunstaffnage Castle
» Edzell Castle
» Glamis Castle
» Inchture
» Kirriemuir
» Montrose & Strathmore
» Nithsdale