Sutherland is the largest and least populated region of the Highlands, covering most of the far north, and is a landscape of breathtaking beauty.
There are caves to investigate, mountains to scale and deserted beaches to stroll along. Fish pristine rivers and lochs, and wander through sheltered forests and woodlands. Marvel at huge waterfalls, watch for rare animals and plants, and discover the rich legacy of thousands of years of human habitation.
The historic Royal Burgh of Dornoch is a small and peaceful cathedral town that is a wonderful holiday destination. Located on the northern edge of the Dornoch Firth in a designated National Scenic Area, Dornoch is a hidden gem. Perhaps off most people’s radar as a seaside resort, Dornoch has however enjoyed a steady stream of “in the know” visitors for many years, attracted to the town for its tranquillity, exceptional scenery and mild climate.
Many come for Royal Dornoch’s championship golf course which dates back to 1616. The championship course has been ranked at No.4 by Golf Digest UK and Ireland and regularly ranks in the top 20 of the world’s best 100 golf courses. In less recent times the links course was said to be “the fairest and largest linkes of any pairt of Scotland.” For golfers, then, Royal Dornoch is right up there on their list of golf courses to play before they die. Others, meanwhile, are attracted to Dornoch by its wildlife, much of which can be seen in the National Nature Reserve at nearby Loch Fleet.
The historic town is very much preserved today, its most striking buildings being its fine 13th Century cathedral, a Bishop’s palace, which is now a well-known hotel; the courthouse and old town jail; and Dornoch Castle. Architecturally, Dornoch hasn’t changed much, its streets are still lined by adorable sandstone cottages and town houses. In the past Dornoch earned a grisly reputation as the location for the last witch burning in Scotland. The unfortunate woman was Janet Horne, who was tried and condemned to death in 1727. A commemorative stone, called the Witch’s Stone, marks her death and stands in a local garden by the 18th tee of Royal Dornoch Golf Club’s Struie Golf Course.
Getting to Sutherland is easy. It is only an hour’s drive from Inverness Airport and readily accessible from the main north-south A9 arterial route via the A949 or the B9168.
Leaving this area the countryside changes first to a wild expanse of peat bog and moorland, and on to high, rocky mountains. And finally, when you reach the remote north and west coast, to majestic cliffs and magnificent, white sandy bays. Feel the exhilarating sense of space and freedom as you explore this uncrowded part of the world.