Scotland's rugged north coast attracts few visitors, but those who do venture this far find that's there's plenty to write home about. Visitor guide to the Cape Wrath...
There are several excellent trips around Durness, but the most spectacular is to Cape Wrath, Britain's most northwesterly point. It's a wild place and the name seems entirely appropriate, though it actually derives from the Norse word hwarf, meaning 'turning place'. Viking ships used it as a navigation point during their raids on the Scottish west coast. Now a lighthouse stands on the cape, above the 1,000 ft-high Clo Mor Cliffs, the highest on the mainland, and breeding ground for huge colonies of seabirds.
You can walk south from here to Sandwood Bay. It's an exhilarating but long coastal walk, and will take around eight hours. It's safer doing this walk from north to south as the area around the headland is a military firing range and access may be restricted, which could leave you stranded.
Cape Wrath Hotels & Accommodation
A good place to stay is the Cape Wrath Hotel, Tel. 511212, , which is just off the A838 on the road to the ferry at Keoldale. It overlooks the loch and is popular with fishermen and passing tourists who stop here to enjoy the great food and superb views. The best value around Durness has to be thePort-Na-Con Guest House, Tel. 511367, , on the west shore of Loch Eriboll, 7 miles from Durness. It's popular with anglers and divers so you'll need to book ahead to take advantage of such comfort amidst all this great scenery. The food in the adjoining restaurant is superb and also great value, especially the seafood. Non-residents are welcome but should book. There are also several B&Bs in Durness, best of which is Puffin Cottage, Tel. 511208, , open Apr-Sep. There's a basic SYHA Youth Hostel, at Smoo, to the east of the village, Tel. 511244; open mid-Mar to early Oct. There's also camping at Salgo Sands Caravan Park, Tel. 511222.
Travel Directions to Cape Wrath
A daily bus runs to and from Thurso, via Tongue and Bettyhill (Jun-Aug, Mon-Sat) with Highland Country Buses, Tel. 01847-893123, leaving Thurso at 1130 and Durness at 1500. There's also a daily bus service (May to early Oct) to and from Inverness via Ullapool and Lochinver, with Bluebird/Inverness Traction, Tel. 01463-239292. There's a Postbus service to Lairg via Tongue and Altnaharra, Mon-Sat at 1115; also via Kinlochbervie and Scourie Mon-Sat at 0820. To get to Cape Wrath, first take the passenger ferry across the Kyle of Durness from Keoldale, 3 miles south of Durness, Tel. 511376. It runs May-Sep hourly 0930-1630. The ferry connects with a minibus, Tel. 511287, for the 11 mils to the cape (40 mins).