After our exhausting day yesterday, today should be quieter – just the journey of about 70 miles to our next campsite in Thurso, further along the northern coast and about 20 miles from John O’ Groats.

The scenery continues to be interesting and the sandy beaches superb.

DSC_5562There then follows the long journey around Loch Eriboll, famous for its use as a deep water anchorage for the Royal Navy, and in WW2 for marshalling the Arctic convoys.

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British servicemen stationed there used to call it Loch ‘Orrible because of the bad weather!  More than 30 U Boats of the German Atlantic fleet surrendered there in 1945.  In 1937 HMS Hood, then the world’s largest battleship, was anchored there and crewmen climbed the hillside and spelt out the ship’s name in stones.  This followed a tradition which had been set in the 1920s and, with binoculars, you can still see the names of these famous ships – Hood, Swift, Bulwark, Blake etc.  They’re even visible on Google Earth.



We haven’t seen people cutting peat since we left Harris.


The settlement of Tongue is at the head of the Kyle of Tongue and is reached by a causeway.  Bessie’s satnav took us on the old road beside the Kyle and in fact we missed Tongue altogether!



There is beautiful view across Tongue Bay and the Rabbit Islands from Coldbackie.  Apparently it’s possible, at low tide, to see some of the iron ribs of the Onega, sunk here in 1862.



Bettyhill, where the River Naver meets the sea, has a sad history – the Highland Clearances of 1814 was a cruel time for the crofters under the rule of the Duke of Sutherland and the whole area of Strathnaver was affected.  There is a museum telling the story although we may not have time to visit it.




As we neared Thurso we saw the nuclear power station of Dounreay, the first in the world to supply mains electricity, now in the long process of being decommissioned.


Thurso itself is a grey town and very much larger than we were expecting.  I would imagine that it grew when Dounreay was built.

The campsite at Thurso was a disappointment – lots of statics and an owner who was less than charming.  The site cost had gone up since we booked and he couldn’t find our booking.  As it happened it matter as the site was almost empty.  The one good thing about it was the view over the Pentland Firth to Orkney, as well Dunnet Head – the furthest point north on the mainland.  Even Thurso looked good!  We decided that we would only stay one night and booked a room at the Tongue Hotel for the next night instead!




It didn’t get dark until after midnight.