The Pilgrim’s Trail

The Pilgrim’s Trail Project has been created together with the local communities of Scourie, Kinlochbervie and Durness. The aim of the project is to provide inspiration to spend time in nature, learning about our heritage and taking time to contemplate, to boost wellbeing and contribute to good mental health.

Read

The project has produced a Gaelic Place Names Gazetteer that catalogues names with a spiritual connection, and an Archaelogical Report to give an overview of the archaeology of the area, linked to spirituality. From these reports and local conversations, places to visit have been highlighted that link the three communities together.  (A Pilgrim’s Trail leaflet that highlights these places will be available soon).

Listen

The Pilgrim’s Trail podcast series, gives an insight into these places, their history and what they mean to their communities. (Pilgrims Trail podcast series in gaelic coming soon).

Experience

We hope you enjoy finding these special places and they provide some space and time for moments of quiet contemplation.

Please be aware that the mobile signal can vary in the Geopark, depending on which network you are on. To avoid any disappointment you can download the Pilgrims Trail podcasts, take them with you on your mobile device and listen to them at the relevant locations.

1. Cladh Allt na Caillich

Grid Ref NC458456

Length: from a few metres.

Time: from 5 minutes.

Terrain: tarmac road; grass.

Wheelchair accessible.

B’ e an tuineachadh eachdraidheil ri taobh an t-seann chladh seo àite-breith Rob Donn, aig a bheil na h-òrain a tha measail air feadh Dùthaich Mhic Aoidh air an stèidheachadh le mothachadh teann air moraltachd a tha freumhaichte anns an sgriobtar. Tha an t-ainm-àite cudromach cuideachd leis gur e cladh Crìosdail a th’ ann le ainm a’ toirt iomradh air a’ Chailleach ro-Chrìosdail, agus tha Dùn Dòrnaigil bho Linn an Iarainn nas lugha na leth mhìle gu deas.

The historic settlement by this old burial ground was the birthplace of Rob Donn, whose songs beloved throughout the Reay Country are underpinned by a strong sense of morality rooted in scripture. The place-name is also significant in that it is a Christian burial ground whose name references the pre-Christian Cailleach, and the Iron Age Dun Dornaigil Broch is less than half a mile south.

2. Ceannabeinne

GRID REF NC441659

Length: about 250m each way from the beach car park.

Time: from 20 minutes.

Terrain: rough, hilly, grassy coastal ground.

Not wheelchair accessible.

Tha a’ mhòr-chuid eòlach air a’ bhaile thobhta ann an Ceann a’ Bheinne, ach an robh fios agaibh gu bheil cill manach meadhan-aoiseil air an oirthir faisg air an seo? Faodaidh an làrach far-rathaid seo fhathast comraich a thoirt seachad an-diugh – mas urrainn dhut a lorg! ‘S e an dearbh comharra-clèithe NC44156599.

Most folk are familiar with the ruined township at Ceannabeinne, but did you know there is what’s thought to be a medieval monk’s cell on the coast near here? This off-the-beaten track site can still provide sanctuary today – if you can find it! The exact grid reference is NC44156599. 

3. Ach’ na h-Anaite 

grid ref NC385655

Length: from a few metres.

Time: from 5 minutes.

Terrain: tarmac road; grassy field.

Wheelchair accessible.

Seo aon den bheagan ainmean-àite ann an Iar-thuath Chataibh anns a bheil am facal Gàidhlig ‘annaid’, a’ ciallachadh làrach co-cheangailte ri eaglais meadhan-aoiseil. Faodar an sealladh farsaing tarsainn Caolas Dhiùirnis a thuigsinn bho thaobh an rathaid, no dhaibhsan a tha airson gum bi seann tobhtaichean rim faighinn air chois.

This is one of a few place-names in North West Sutherland featuring the Gaelic word annaid, meaning a site associated with a medieval church. The expansive view across the Kyle of Durness from here can be appreciated from the roadside, or for those who wish to walk, there are ancient ruins to discover on foot.

4. Sandwood Bay 

GRID REF NC385655

Length: from a few metres.

Time: from 5 minutes.

Terrain: tarmac road; grassy field.

Wheelchair accessible.

‘S e cuairt fhada ach measail a th’ ann am Bàgh Sandwood, agus tha an t-slighe air a dheagh dhèanamh ga dhèanamh na thoileachas. A bharrachd air na seallaidhean iongantach, tha sreathan de dh’ eachdraidh san t-sealladh-tìre seo a’ toirt fianais air eachdraidh tuineachaidh a tha a’ sìneadh air ais linntean, fada mus deach tobhta taigh cìobair an latha an-diugh – agus tha sgeulachdan mu thaibhsean an seo fhathast.

Sandwood Bay is a long but popular walk, and the well-made track makes it a pleasure. As well as the  spectacular scenery, there are layers of history in this landscape evidencing a history of settlement that stretches back centuries, long before the ruin of the modern shepherd’s cottage – and stories of ghosts haunt this place still.

5. Càrn Naomhag

GRID REF NC240660

Length: A further two miles north from the beach end of the Sandwood Bay path.

Time: Allow another hour each way from Sandwood Bay.

Terrain: sand; shallow but slippery river crossing; rough, grassy, boggy ground with trackless sections.

Not wheelchair accessible.

‘S dòcha gum biodh an fheadhainn agaibh a tha a’ dèanamh an turais gu Sandwood, no a’ dol air adhart eadhon nas fhaide gu Srath Chailleach, airson a dhol air falbh gu sgiobalta far an t-slighe gus feuchainn ris an ‘cnoc naomh’ seo a lorg.

Those of you making the trip to Sandwood, or going on even further to Strathchailleach, might want to take a quick detour off the track to try and find this curiosity, Càrn Naomag, ‘holy hill’.

6. Strathchailleach 

GRID REF NC249657

Length: 6 miles each way.

Time: Allow at least seven hours for a day trip, although breaking the journey overnight at the bothy is recommended.

Terrain: well-constructed track; sand; rough, sometimes very boggy ground. It is also possible to return via the rough track along the east side of Sandwood Loch, taking in Strathan Bothy on the way to Oldshoremore.

Not wheelchair accessible.

B’ e Bothy Shrath Chailleach dachaigh an t-sàr-sheallaidh Shanndaidh airson deicheadan, agus tha na ballachan fhathast còmhdaichte leis na dealbhan-balla aige a tha air am brosnachadh le beul-aithris. Faodar an turas seo a dhèanamh mar chuairt latha fada agus gu math dian, ach tha e eadhon nas fheàrr an oidhche a chaitheamh an seo agus faireachdainn an àite shònraichte seo a dhùsgadh.

Strathchailleach Bothy was famously the home of the hermit Sandy for decades, and the walls are still covered with his mythologically-inspired murals. This trip can be done as a long and fairly strenuous day walk, but even better is to spend the night here and soak up the atmosphere of this special place.

7. Rhiconich

GRID REF NC256518

Length: from 300m each way from the Rhiconich Hotel.

Time: from 20 minutes

Terrain: tarmac road until the bridge; after which turn left and take the rough track along the riverside to the wooded area.

Not wheelchair accessible.

Dìreach air an t-slighe a tha a’ dol suas Abhainn an Ruighe Choinnich tha rud a thathas a’ smaoineachadh a bha na àite searmonachaidh dìomhair aig na Cùmhnantaich. Is e cuairt ghoirid ach garbh a tha seo sìos a’ ghleann bhrèagha shìtheil seo, far a bheil cuideachd na tha air fhàgail de chàrn seòmarach, a’ ceangal an làraich ris na h-amannan ro-eachdraidheil.

Just along the path that goes up the Rhiconich River is what is thought to have been a secret preaching place of the Covenanters. This is a short but rough walk down this pretty and peaceful wee glen, where there is also the remains of a chambered cairn, linking the site to prehistoric times.

8. An Annait

GRID REF NC209508

Length: 1.5 miles each way from the layby at Portlevorchy, although the site is visible from here and the view to it across the loch can be viewed from afar.

Time: From just over an hour round trip, if walking down to Ardmore.

Terrain: 4×4 track; uneven grassy track.

Not wheelchair accessible.

Tha a-nis cuid de thaighean agus ionad chur-seachadan air a’ bhlàr air làrach na h-eaglaise meadhan-aoiseil seo, mar sin pàircich faisg air Portlevorchy agus coisich an còrr. Mura h-eil thu dèidheil air a’ chuairt, faodar am pìos beag uaine seo air an oirthir fhaicinn às an rathad, tarsainn Loch a’ Chadh-Fi àlainn.

There’s now some houses and an outdoor centre at this medieval church site, so park somewhere appropriate at Portlevorchy and walk the rest. If you don’t fancy that, this wee green patch on the coast can also be appreciated from the end of the road, across beautiful Loch a’ Chadh-Fi.

9. Handa Island 

GRID REF NC143474

Length: from a quarter mile each way from the boat to Tràigh an Teampaill, to four miles for the circular walk.

Time: allow at least a half day for this trip, even if not doing the circular walk. In good weather you won’t want to leave – take a packed lunch and plenty of water. 

Terrain: tarmac road; sand; grassy paths; boardwalk.

Not wheelchair accessible.

Tha Eilean Shanndaidh a-nis ainmeil airson a bhòidhchead nàdurrach agus àireamhan eòin-mhara, ach tha eachdraidh fhada air a bhith a’ fuireach ann. Tha Tràigh an Teampaill faisg air seann chladh an eilein, agus na dheagh àite airson fois is sàmhchair Handa a mhealtainn.

Handa Island is now best known for its natural beauty and seabird populations, but has a long history of habitation. Tràigh an Teampaill, ‘sandy beach of the church/temple’ is near the old burial ground on the island, and an ideal place to enjoy Handa’s peace and tranquillity.

10. Scourie Lodge 

GRID REF NC155450

Length: from 100m each way.

Time: from 10 minutes.

Terrain: tarmac road; garden paths.

Wheelchair accessible.

‘S e àite brèagha a th’ ann an gàrraidhean Loidse Sgobharaidh airson mionaid shàmhach, smaoineachail a chaitheamh. Leis gur e seann dachaigh a’ bhàillidh Evander MacÌomhair, tha Loidse Sgobharaidh na phrìomh làrach ann an eachdraidh a’ bhaile agus na sgìre san fharsaingeachd. Is e cuairt ghoirid gu math furasta a tha seo, ruigsinneach dha na h-uile, le pàirceadh faisg air làimh aig a’ chidhe, agus àiteachan gu leòr airson suidhe.

The grounds of Scourie Lodge are a beautiful place to spend a quiet and contemplative moment. Being the former home of the factor Evander Maciver, Scourie Lodge is a key site in the history of the village and wider region. This is a very easy, short stroll, accessible to all, with parking nearby at the pier, and plenty of places to sit.

11. Scourie Burial Ground 

GRID REF NC148447

Length: from just a few metres.

Time: from 10 minutes.

Terrain: tarmac road, grass.

Wheelchair accessible.

Bidh mòran eòlach air Cladh Sgobharaidh mu thràth, ach an cuala sibh an fhàisneachd mu charragh-cuimhne Evander MacÌomhair? Is e cuairt ghoirid agus furasta a tha seo a ghabhas a chur còmhla ri tadhal air an Loidse airson slighe bheag eachdraidheil.

Scourie Burial Ground will be familiar to many already, but have you heard the prophecy about Evander Maciver’s memorial? This is a very short and easy walk that can be combined with a visit to the Lodge for a mini-historical trail.

12. The Round Church

GRID REF NC148431

Length: 400m each way.

Time: from 25 minutes.

Terrain: tarmac road, uneven grassy field.

Not wheelchair accessible.

Chan eil an tobhta seo de gàrradh-cloiche dìreach fo High Rock ach beagan mhionaidean coiseachd tarsainn air achadh feurach bhon An Eaglais Shaor. Tha e air grunn sgeulachdan fhaighinn thar nam bliadhnaichean, ach tha e coltach gun deach a chleachdadh àite searmonachaidh aig àm an Dealachaidh. Ge bith dè an tùs a th’ ann, is e àite brèagha is iongantach a tha seo airson tadhal ann an aimsir sam bith.

This drystone ruin just under High Rock is only a few minutes’ walk across a grassy field from the Free Church. It has acquired various stories over the years, but was most likely used as a preaching place during the Disruption era. Whatever its origins, this is a beautiful and dramatic location to visit in any weather.

13. Bealach nam Fiann 

GRID REF NC272384

Length: from Achfary, 2 miles each way. A much longer walk of almost 7 miles can be taken from Kylestrome, and the late afternoon bus to Scourie, KLB and Durness caught at Achfary.

Time: From one hour each way from Achfary. For the walk from Kylestrome allow at least three hours, with at least an hour for the descent to Achfary.

Terrain: well-maintained and defined estate tracks made from rather walker-unfriendly chunky gravel. Straightforward but sometimes hard-going. The ascent from Achfary is fairly steep and unforgiving, but short. 

Not wheelchair accessible.

Ma thèid agad air a’ chuairt chruaidh suas gu Bealach nam Fiann, am bealach 400m os cionn Achadh Fairidh, gheibh thu duais le fear dhe na seallaidhean as iongantaiche ann an DoireMòr. Tha an t-àite seo air sgeulachdan uirsgeulach a bhrosnachadh airson iomadh linn, mar a tha an t-ainm a’ moladh. B’ e còmhlan de ghaisgich-bàird aig an robh uirsgeulan Gàidhlig ro-Chrìosdail a bh’ anns na Fianna.

If you can manage the strenuous walk up to Bealach nam Fiann, the pass 400m above Achfary, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most spectacular views in the Reay Forest. This place has inspired legendary tales for many centuries, as the name suggests. The Fianna or Fenians were the band of warrior-poets of pre-Christian Gaelic legend.

14. Cladh an Lòin Lèith 

GRID REF NC352549

Length: 400m each way, although someone could be dropped off at the site and the car turned around.

Time: from 25 minutes.

Terrain: well-maintained estate track.

Wheelchair accessible.

Tha an t-àite seo aig Ceann Loch Mòr furasta a ruigsinn le càr, no fiù ‘s air bus nam biodh cuideigin toilichte an latha a chur seachad a’ coiseachd san sgìre. Tha an t-seann chladh seo air làrach eaglais meadhan-aoiseil. Chan e seo an aon eachdraidh chaillte an seo, mar a nochdas am podcast.

This location at Kinloch, Loch More is easily accessible by car, or even by bus if you are content to spend the day walking in the area. This old burial ground is the site of an all-but-forgotten medieval church. It’s not the only lost history around here, as the podcast will reveal.