Sutherland
Best months:
August to December

Sutherland

Scotland, United Kingdom
LAST UPDATED 03/03/2008
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introduction

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Voyager: Sutherland county Enlarged version of a map originally drawn by Morwen; 18 May 2005

Sutherland is getting towards as remote as you can get on the British Isles these days. It's a wild and rugged place with huge open beaches without a footprint in sight, as well as protected little bays where you are more likely to see seals feeding on wild salmon than you are other surfers. It is also a rich haunt of some of Britains rarest animals, if you're lucky enough you could chance upon huge golden eagle swooping and soaring or otters playing in streams here. Don't forget your camera on this trip!!

surfing

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Pic: One lucky surfer with plenty of elbow room; Author: Matt Smith/crystalbluephotography.com

The lack of surfers on Sutherlands north coast is entirely a reflection of the lack of people here, there just isn't a surfing community. When most travelling surfers venture up here they tend to head straight for the "discovered" quality breaks further east in Caithness such as Thurso east, Brims etc. Meaning many crystal clear gems out west along the north shore gets ridden only by the local dolphins. Many of the breaks along here are accessible from the A836 and aren't that hard to find, just go look, you'll be in for a real treat.

travel

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Frenkieb: Flat tire; 30 June 2007

Basically, you're gonna need a car! Take the A836 west from Thurso (see "travel" in the Thurso area of this website). Access roads north off the A836 to most breaks. After Melvich the road narrows to a single track with passing places and it's pretty slow going. It takes a lot longer to get anywhere than you might estimate looking at the map. Check your spare tyre and make sure you have the correct wheel brace, believe me, it's the voice of experience, we didn't, we suffered!

where to stay

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Cactus.man: Earl's Palace - Birsay; 11 December 2005

Accommodation choices in this least populated part of western Europe are slim pickings. You're probably better to stay in either Thurso to the east at Caithness, or in Durness (favourite haunt of John Lennon some years back). Durness offers a few bed and breakfast options in the village and there is a campsite up on the cliff over Sango Bay.

what to pack

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Pic: wild mountain streams flow onto the beaches in Sutherland; Author: Matt Smith/crystalbluephotography.com

During the summer months (May-Sept) you'll need short sleeved t-shirts, shorts and long trousers (pants) and probably a light jacket or pullover for the more blustery days and evenings and sun cream for days out on the water. In winter bring long trousers (pants), warm pullovers, warm waterproof coats, scarves, hat and gloves!!

As far a wetsuits go you'll need a good quality 3/2mm steamer for Summer, add boots and gloves for Spring/Autumn. For Winter it's strictly 5/3mm steamer, boots, gloves, hood, thermal rashie and a strong will to surf!!

For boards you normal size 6'2" - 6'6" (depending on ability etc) thruster for 2-4ft waves will suffice most of the time. You might want to add a 6'7" - 7' for the bigger epic days on the points and reefs.

Might be worth bringing someone to surf with as you'll struggle to find anyone out here! Dr. Doolittle would love it, there's plenty of wild company!

Also make sure your vehicle is of sound working order, check your spare tyre and make sure you have all of the correct equipment to change it - the roads can be a bit rough round the edges here and you don't want to get stranded.

And of course, bring a camera, there're plenty of photo opportunities here to impress your mates with back home.

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