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Scotland is unique but some parts of Scotland are more unique than others. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Caithness and Sutherland. These most northerly UK mainland counties cover an area twice the size of Greater London and yet are home to fewer than 40,000 people. Amidst the "large religion" of their heather-clad moors and mountains you will find enduring peace.
You will also find vibrant communities, as proud of their historical and cultural heritage as they are committed to meeting the challenges of the 21st century. These are the clan lands of Gunn, Sinclair, Sutherland and Mackay, names synonymous with Scotland's turbulent past and still at the heart of Scotland's democratic present.
The contrast between the Caithness and Sutherland is also unique. Caithness is famous for its open, cathedral-like skies, sea bird-girt cliffs and the internationally renowned peat lands of the 'Flow Country'. Some of the most important European Neolithic sites are in Caithness: the Grey Cairns of Camster and the monuments at Loch of Yarrows near Wick. Wick, the country town of Caithness, is also famous for its award-winning Heritage Centre that recounts the town's long association with the sea. In the 19th Century, Wick was the most important herring fishing port in Europe. The rugged Caithness coastline is graced by tiny harbours where the 'silver darling' herring were brought ashore and sent to market.
The eastern fringe of Sutherland is graced by golden sand beaches, perfect for the bucket-and-spade brigade, and by some of the finest golf courses in the world. Dunrobin Castle, the ancestral home of the Sutherland family guards these fertile firthlands, whilst salmon abound in such famous rivers as the Brora and Helmsdale.
Magnificent mountains, Foinaven, Ben Hope, Ben More Assynt and Ben Loyal, the "Queen of Scottish Mountains" overlooking the Kyle of Tongue crown the heartland of Sutherland. Durness, in the far northwest, has one of the most attractive little golf courses in Scotland, renowned for its 9th hole where golfers play a shot across the Atlantic, over a deep, wave-washed inlet. To the south of Durness, the busy port of Kinlochbervie - known locally as KLB - is adjacent to wonderful beaches including remote and lovely Sandwood Bay.
Go north to see for yourself what it is that makes Caithness and Sutherland the most unique part of the treasure that is Scotland. There is a lifetime's pleasure to be found here, in a world of golden eagle, wild cat, otter and red deer, where each new day brings fresh adventure and leaving will be your only hardship.
Bruce Sandison, Tongue