A selection of activities available in Strathy and the surrounding area. Whatever activities you participate in, please remember the country side code.
The north coast sees fishing with cod, pollack & ling common with coalfish, wrasse and dab also being plentiful. Occasional catches include cuckoo wrasse. The winter months through to spring sees anglers targeting porbeagle shark which offer seriously big game prospects with fish estimated up to 500lbs. Boats can be hired from Scrabster Harbour near to Thurso. All along the north coast small creel boats work from the piers catching crabs and lobsters.
Beach and Coast Walking
Strathy, Farr, Melvich and Armadale beaches are fantastic for walking along. A careful walk along the cliff line from Melvich to Armadale is also worth attempting. The wide variety of beaches along the north coast mean that there are different grades of walk avaialable. Many of the beaches can be driven to and a short walk will soon bring you to the beach. Remember that the beach at Strathy is down the hill and it is much more difficult getting up the hill than down! A walk around the Strathy area can be downloaded here.
The north coast of Scotland provides some of the most scenic waters to kayak in. Natural arches, caves and sea stacks abound along the coastline and provide a fascinating backdrop to a paddle. The sea conditions and strong currents mean that a paddle is often a challenge but very much worthwhile. The rewards are a fantaastic view of the geology and bird-life of the north coast. There is also a good chance that you will come across some of the local sea mammals that populate our coastline.
The north coast of Scotland has really taken off as a focus for surfing in North West Europe. Locations such as Thurso have seen championships and beaches such as Farr (Bettyhill) and Strathy have attracted dedicated surfers. With so many options for surfing you can often find yourself the only people taking advantage of the surf on one particular beach. Strathy has the added advantage of the toilet facilities in the shelter at the top of the hill. Thurso, to the east of Strathy, holds a leg of the UK Pro surf tour each year. This is held each year in October.
Famed for their superb fishing the rivers of north Scotland are well worth trying – even for the amateur. Please bear in mind that most river fishing in northern Scotland requires a permit – just ask at the local village shops for details. A wide variety of fish and fishing can be found in the rivers and lochs of the northern counties. It is lways worth asking around, especially in the local shops and pubs for the best places to fish.
For those of a hunting disposition some estates provide for deer stalking. Grouse and clay pigeon shooting can also be arranged. Please remember that you should only shoot on estates that are equipped for such activities.
With the diversity of environments in the Strathy strath comes a diversity in birds. Hill birds and sea birds mix with migratory species. The RSPB nature reserve at Forsinard Flows is very much worth a visit and a lot can be learned from spending time there. Always be aware of raptors such as Buzzards on fence posts or hovering above waiting for the next meal.
Rivers and lochs provide the perfect play ground for canoeists of all levels in the area. Some of the rivers and lochs are used by other sportsmen so it is always good to talk to landowners to seek permission first. Often they will only be too happy to help you find the best spots for canoeing / kayaking in. Also always remember the countryside code and observe it.
Most visitors to the area comment of the scenery and the sky. Some of the best photographers around have taken advantage of this. No matter the season, weather or the lighting you are sure to find a good shot. It is worth visiting some of the local shops in the area for examples of what local photographers have achieved. The larger towns such as Thurso also have photographic suppliers.
Some of the quietest Munro bagging can be found in the north of Scotland. For walkers who prefer less height but no less challenge then many of the hills around can provide a distraction for an hour or two. Many hills provide a technical challenge to even the most eperienced of walker. Any walker should always remember that the weather in the north of Scotland is notorious for changing quickly and should plan accordingly.
With the Highland Clearances many of the families from the north of Scotland emigrated to all corners of the world. Local graveyards and the museum in Bettyhill provide a great starting place for looking for your forebears. The North Highland Archives in Wick and the local museum in Bettyhill are worth spending some time in. Local censuses are now available online as are old Ordnance Survey maps. The maps show the old steadings where people lived and evidence of the old abandoned homes can be found on the land.
Ranger Guided Walks
The Highland Council Ranger Service provide a range of themed walks throughout the year. Checkout their website for further details. Walks are suited to all abilities from gentle strolls to more challenging climbs. Some activities centre on local history, flora or fauna. Many of the activities are children orientatied. Always rememer to take stout walking boots and the correct clothes for the ever changing weather!
Both Reay and Durness have golf courses and they are certainly well worth visiting if you fancy a challenge. There are a number of other clubs such as those at Wick, Brora and Dornoch. Most are the tradiational Scottish "links" type courses. It is always worth telephoning ahead to find out what the local arrangements are and how busy the course is.
With such spectacular geology it is little wonder that the area also attracts rock climbers of all abilities. The bulk of the climbs are coastal ones but the variety is still wide. Some of the potential climbs include sea stacks. Guide books are available that detail the best routes although there is always room for new methods.
The clear air combined with such "big skies" means that star gazing and Northern Light watching (Aurora Borealis) makes the area a must for astronomers. Looking online for the latest space weather means that you can pick the best time to watch out for Northern Lights. Often the best time for the Northern Lights is December through to March. The long winter nights, often with crystal clear skies, make star and planet gazing a joy.