Natural wonders of Britain’s most northerly point

We perhaps think that all real tales evolve around people and their idiosyncrasy,

without considering that nature provides some very unusual and amazing tales of its own.

Everyone has heard of the Niagara Falls on the American and Canadian border and perhaps many of you have stood and viewed it from the viewing platform. Well next time you are there you can consider turning to the stranger standing next to you and saying ‘Impressive isn’t it’, but do you know that it is not nearly as tall as the one we have in Scotland’

You can then go on to explain that the highest free-fall waterfall in Britain is in Sutherland near Loch Assynt and is known as Eas Coul Aulin a corruption of the gaelic name meaning ‘Waterfall of the Beautiful Tresses’. It has a sheer drop of 650 feet which is almost four times the height of the Niagara Falls. Now that is impressive but how many people are aware of it. The highest sea cliffs in Britain are also in Sutherland some four miles east of Cape Wrath and are the cliffs of Clo Mor which at their highest point rise up to 921 feet above the sea. Unfortunately Sutherland is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Britain due mainly to the Duke of Sutherland and his clearances. However a drive along the coastal route from Thurso to Durness is well worth the effort as some very attractive and interesting works of nature can be found. There is the Smoo Cave which has the largest entrance of any sea cave in Britain with the main chamber some 200 feet long and 110 feet wide. It echoes with the sound of Allt Smoo as it tumbles down a vertical 80 foot shaft into a deep pool below. A very interesting example of nature’s wonders..

Sutherland is the most northerly part of mainland Scotland, but it derives its name from the Viking term for southern land (Sudrland) when the Vikings ruled Orkney and Shetland, .and looked upon it as being south of their territories. Cape Wrath, being the extreme north-west point of Sutherland, comes from the Norse word ‘hvraf ‘ meaning ‘turning point’ on the Vikings long journey to the outer Hebrides which they also had an interest in until the territories were taken over by the Scottish Crown under the Treaty of Perth.

The Cape Wrath area is so remote that it is the only area in Europe where NATO military manoeuvres combining all three services can be carried out. See you next week.