4.3 of 5 (2 votes)

Faraid Head, Sutherland

A leisurely walk (coast) in Highlands, Scotland, about 9.72km (6.04 mi) long with an estimated walking time of about 2:30. It is suitable for families with children, but unsuitable for prams & pushchairs, wheelchairs.
Elevation Profile
Gain 109m (357ft)
Loss 116m (380ft)
Max. Elevation 80m (262ft)
Elevation (total) 225m (737ft)
Start & End
Durness, Sutherland
Distance 9.72km
(6.04mi)
Duration ~2:30
Difficulty  
Leisurely
5Created by maryw on 29 Sep 2011
A gentle taster of North West Sutherland's remote coastal scenery, with fine sandy beaches and views across to the rocky cliffs of Cape Wrath. Durness is accessible in the summer months via what must be a contender for the most scenic bus route in Britain. A public minibus with cycle trailer runs from Inverness to Durness daily between April-September (Sunday service only runs in July/August). The trip takes five hours, hugging the west coast northwards from Ullapool. (Out of season, an alternative route is possible by train to Lairg, then minibus.) Faraid Head is home to puffins in season; the tiny purple Scottish primrose can apparently also be found here - it is both rare and eleusive. 

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Walk Map

Waypoints

OS Grid NC404677
Turn right out of the post office and continue straight ahead at a road fork where the main A838 swings away south. Go past the houses and fenced fields until you reach Balnakeil Craft Village on the left (housed in a group of old wartime buildings - not just crafts, but also several places to eat/drink, and what must be the most northerly independent bookshop on the British mainland!)
Balnakeil Craft Village About 1.20 km (~0.75 miles) from
OS Grid NC392680
The road heads north to Balnakeil beach. Here you may like to pause to read information boards giving the history of the adjacent ruined church.
Balnakeil beach About 0.67 km (~0.42 miles) from
OS Grid NC391687
Walk through the parking area and enter the fine white sandy beach through a gate. Cows are often found grazing on the beach (even seaweed is a bit scarce, so not sure what they are eating!) Walk across the beach to the rocky outcrop which divides the beach in two (except at low tide).
Start of track About 0.90 km (~0.56 miles) from
OS Grid NC392696
A vehicle track (serving the MOD premises at the far end of the headland) leaves the beach and follows a route slightly inland. It may sometimes be covered with drifting sand in places.
Stone enclosure About 0.71 km (~0.44 miles) from
OS Grid NC390703
The track heads north west, passing to the right of a stone enclosure, to a point where a lesser path branches off left to the smaller headland.
Path junction About 0.65 km (~0.4 miles) from
OS Grid NC386707
Stay on the track which curves up to the fenced-off MOD base.
MOD base About 0.62 km (~0.39 miles) from
OS Grid NC387713
No entry here, so turn right along a path which follows the fence eastwards, round to a prominent cairn.
Cairn viewpoint About 0.28 km (~0.17 miles) from
OS Grid NC389711
Enjoy the views from here, westwards across to the Cape Wrath peninsula and eastwards in the general direction of Orkney. Follow the line of the clifftop fence to the next headland.
HeadlaHeadland opposite two rock stacks About 0.34 km (~0.21 miles) from
OS Grid NC392710
Turn south west and follow a route through the dunes back to the old stone enclosure.
Stone enclosure About 0.78 km (~0.48 miles) from
OS Grid NC391702
Rejoin the vehicle track back though the dunes to the rocky outcrop.
Puffin diversion About 0.52 km (~0.32 miles) from
OS Grid NC392697
There is a breeding puffin colony in summer on the headland at roughly NC398701, a path leads off from here in this direction. A potential diversion! Otherwise continue back to Balnakeil beach.
Balnakeil beach exit About 1.04 km (~0.65 miles) from
OS Grid NC390686
Leaving the beach, proceed back along the minor road to the craft village, worth stopping to explore (and for refreshments!)
Craft village About 0.60 km (~0.37 miles) from
OS Grid NC392681
Back along the road to Durness centre.
Durness Post Office again About 1.41 km (~0.88 miles) from
OS Grid NC405676
Back in the centre of Durness, whose amenities include a shop, campsite, hostel, and another sandy beach at Sango Bay. The limestone Smoo Cave and SYHA hostel are about a mile's walk further east.

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