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Sutherland – The rugged, but spectacular Highlands of Scotland

Although being one of the most northern parts of Scotland, the name Sutherland actually means “southern land” and originates from a time of Norse rule over much of this area.

Much of the area can be described as rugged, yet spectacular at the same time, with a coastline that borders the Atlantic to the west and the North Sea to the east. It has been said that Sutherland has some of the most dramatic scenery in the whole of Europe, with mountains and cliffs meeting the sea in the west, deep fjords in the east and north, and even sandy beaches.

Although this is the fifth largest county in Scotland, it has a small population compared to other counties of a similar size, mainly because of the terrain, poor transport links and a limited number of inland roads.

Reasons to visit Sutherland

From a scenic point of view, Sutherland offers some breathtaking views, and because it has been so isolated from the rest of the country, there are some relatively rare birds to be found in the county, such as the golden eagle, sea eagle and pine marten. It has been said that the last surviving native wolf was shot here in the 18th century.

Dunrobin Castle dates back to the Middle Ages, but much of its present architecture was carried out in the middle 19th century. The Falls of Shin is another popular spot for visitors, who come here every year to watch salmon fighting their way up the falls to spawn.

Rosehall Forest is a great place to visit for all the family, where you might catch a glimpse of Sika Deer. Other interests include: The Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve, Ferrycroft Visitor Centre, museums and art galleries. And if you fancy ‘one for the road’, you could visit the Clynelish Distillery.

Entertainment and Dining in Sutherland

Nightlife might be a little sparse, although entertainment can be found in some of the pubs and hotels. Restaurants you may like to try include: The Anchorage Restaurant in Lairg and The Bunillidh in Helmsdale (seafood).

Accommodation in Sutherland

Sutherland offers the usual types of accommodation (Guest Houses and B&Bs etc.) and plenty of hotels with scenic views, such as The Overscaig House Hotel in Loch Shin and the Altnaharra Hotel near Lairg.