In early July 2018 I had a walking trip along the North Coast of the Scottish Highlands. This started in John o’ Groats and continued west along the coast to Tongue, before heading south to Altnaharra. I walked every step of the way – often only with the cleggs for company – and took in nearly 90 miles on foot in those few days.
This has become a popular route for visitors mainly due to the NC500 – the 500 mile road trip taking in many of the most scenic parts of the Highlands. This means it attracts more traffic, including campervans which are far too big for the single-track roads, and groups of bikers, which at times take away from the tranquility of the area.
That aside, it was a wonderfully scenic trip. Caithness is lovely but the scenery really ramps up heading further west, into Sutherland.
I was looking for some peace and quiet and largely found this along the coast, at some stunning beaches, and particularly on the walk past Loch Craggie and Loch Loyal on the route to Altnaharra.
The route was John o’ Groats to Thurso via Dunnet. Then on to Strathy, before a fairly brutal walk to Tongue which ended up being just over 22 miles. Despite the state my feet were in at the end, it was an incredible few days along the coast. The beaches of Scotland in sunny weather look incredible – the sea glowing light blue in places – often without another soul in sight.
Leaving the coast to head south to Altnaharra took me past the awesome Ben Loyal, past two beautiful lochs and then a few miles with nothing around.
Day 1 – John O’ Groats
Day 2 – John O’ Groats to Dunnet
Day 3 – Dunnet to Thurso
Day 4 – Thurso to Strathy
Day 5 – Strathy to Tongue
Day 6 – Tongue to Altnaharra