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Discover a wonderful view over the River Ness and St. Andrew’s Cathedral on the Mackenzie Castle Outlander tour in Scotland.
The abiding memory of a visit to northwest Sutherland will surely be the staggering beauty of the place.
This, however, is a county of contrasts and extremes. Where the railhead ends its westward way at Lairg the mail is distributed onward by “post bus.”
A destination 50 miles away can be quaintly described as “by” Lairg. All forms of marketing known to man, “population bricks” etc., are thrown into chaos and disarray.
Postcode IV27 has probably one of the smallest populations of any in Europe but has a geographic area the size of a small country.
Contrast the sumptuous grandeur of Dunrobin Castle, home to the Dukes and Duchesses of Sutherland, their heirs, and successors, to the humble crofts, many today in shameful rubble cleared by their factors to make way for sheep.
Consider then how in far-flung Assynt, in very recent times, collective action has enabled a “buy-back” of land into ownership of the crofting community.
In common with much of the rest of Scotland, the west has the most spectacular scenery. The mountains of Canisp and Suilven stand volcanic sentinels over the lovely village of Lochinver still clinging doggedly to its credentials as a fishing village. Kinlochbervie too features in this regard.
Foinaven, Arkle, and Stack dominate the more northerly skyline, two of them lending their names to famous thoroughbred racehorses.
Ben Loyal serenely guards the idyllic village of Tongue. Many other peaks feature large in the landscape and delight the “Munro Baggers.”
Smoo Cave at Durness, Cape Wrath on the northwest extremity of the mainland and the bird sanctuary of Handa Island off Scourie are all worthy contenders for some of your time.
The single-track coastal route through Assynt is as picturesque as it is challenging to the motorist. Lochs More, Stack and Shin outline the homeward journey. All vie for and seek the attention of the visitor to complete a memorable day.