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North Highland Way

The North Highland Way ~ 78.5 miles (126 km) ~ 7 days' walking

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Thurso, the northernmost town on the UK mainland, will be your base for the first 3 nights on the North Highland Way. From there, you will be able to explore this remote area of Scotland that has remained generally untouched by industries that have changed more populated parts of the country. From Thurso you can walk the eastern section of the North Highland Way, taking in Duncansby Head, John O’ Groats, Dunnet Head and an optional day trip by ferry to the Orkney Islands with its rich Viking Heritage. We are delighted to offer you the services of our knowledgeable local representative to provide a private transfer from Thurso to John O’Groats.

Dunnet Head allows the opportunity to visit the most northerly point of the British Mainland and offers spectacular views down over sea cliffs below.

Further stages include Strathy, Bettyhill and Tongue where, during the summer months between May and August, the puffin bird colonies will be active. Continue west to Durness, with a ferry trip across the Kyle and walk to the iconic Cape Wrath, named by the Vikings as the Norse for “turning point”. The lighthouse at Cape Wrath was built in 1828 and is a Category A listed building: a 20-metre (66 ft) tall, white-washed tower built of granite with a single storey semi-circular base.

An optional extra is available to extend a further day to walk out to the magnificent beaches at Sandwood Bay on the dramatic Atlantic coastline.  The walk from Kinlochbervie past the hamlets of Blairmaore, Batrick and Shegra is rewarded by your arrival at one of the most beautiful beaches in Britain. Spend time exploring the mile of golden sand and dunes, with rocky cliffs and a giant sea stack to complete the dramatic scene.

Overall, although the distances on this trek are not overly long and the height gain is moderate, the route should only be considered by reasonably experienced walkers with good map and compass reading abilities due to the lack of waymarking and the trails that are indistinct at times.

Are you interested in this walking holiday? Then Fill out our enquiry form today. Our team would be delighted to hear from you.

Key Symbols

Route Terrain
Moderate to Strenuous

Route Signposting
Not Currently Way Marked

Navigational Skills
Moderate

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The North Highland Way ~ 78.5 miles (126 km) ~ 7 days' walking

Click each day to expand.

Arrive Thurso (your base for 3 days)

The North Highland Way begins at Thurso, the most northerly town on the British mainland, located at the end of the A9, the main transport route through Scotland and approximately 300 miles from the main industrial area of Central Scotland and the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. It is also the birthplace of Sir William Alexander Smith (1854 – 1914), the founder of the Boys’ Brigade, who was born in Pennyland House, now a Guest House used by EasyWays on the walk.

Duncansby Head and Orkney Islands

Transfer to John O’Groats with our knowledgeable local representative, who will be able to answer any questions you have about the North Highland Way. On arrival, walk out to Duncansby Head and The Stacks. Alternatively, join the 10.30am ferry crossing (from June to August) for a day trip to the Orkney Islands. Take the late afternoon public bus back to Thurso on return from Orkney.

Dunnet to Thurso (16 miles / 30 km)

Take the local bus service to Brough for return coastline walk out to Dunnet Head Lighthouse, the most northerly point on the British Mainland, followed by a gentle walk around the sandy beach at Dunnet Bay to the town of Castletown, before following the coastline past Murkle Bay to end at Kirk End, at the River Thurso, on the eastern edge of the town.

Thurso to Strathy (10 miles / 16 km)

Begin the day with a morning visit to the picturesque harbour at Scrabster and onward walk out to Holborn Head before returning to Thurso for private transfer in the afternoon to Strathy. 4 miles / 6.4 km Take an evening walk to visit the puffin colonies on the local cliffs between May and August. Alternatively, take a mid-morning private transfer to Reay and walk around Fresgoe Bay, following the coastline past Melvich Bay (and the seasonal puffin colony) past Bighouse and Portskerra to reach Strathy Bay. Overnight at Strathy.

Strathy to Bettyhill (10 miles / 16 km)

A coastal walk out to Strathy Point and onward round Armadale Bay on the headlands of Ardmore, Kirtomy and Farr Points past beautiful Farr Bay which was the main settlement in the area before the Highland Clearances between 1811 and 1821 and on to Bettyhill. Overnight at Bettyhill.

Bettyhill to Tongue (15.5 miles / 25 km)

Commence your walk by crossing the golden sands at Torrisdale Bay before heading out along the coastline to Skerry with views to the Rabbit Islands, along the coast past Coldbachie to end on the eastern side of the Kyle of Tongue. Overnight at Tongue.

Tongue to Durness (15 miles / 24 km)

Begin the day with a part transfer (with the baggage transfer) to the south of Loch Eribol for drop-off around Polla to leave a good day’s walking along the western side of the Kyle into Smoo Cave and Durness. Overnight at Durness.

Durness to Cape Wrath (16 miles / 25.5 km)

Early morning transfer to ferry point at the Kyle of Durness for crossing and onward minibus transfer to the lighthouse at Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly point on the British mainland. The lighthouse at Cape Wrath was built in 1828 by Robert Stevenson and was manned until 1998, when it was converted to automatic operation. It is a Category A listed building, 20 metres tall, consisting of a white-washed tower built of granite with a single-storey semi-circular base building. Overnight at Durness Because its landscape is largely untouched by man, Cape Wrath has a wide diversity of wildlife, including red deer, fulmar, hooded crow, rock pipit, golden eagle, cormorant and gannet. Walk back to the ferry point for return crossing over the Kyle and transfer back to Durness. Overnight at Durness.

Depart Durness

Congratulations - you have completed The North Highland Way! Depart Durness by public bus transport to Lairg and on by rail for homeward travel via Inverness.

Fixed Price - £565 per person

Single supplement - On application

Included

  • 8 nights' accommodation for 2 people sharing in quality B&Bs, guest houses, inns and hotels. Rooms with shower/wc (where available)
  • Breakfast
  • Private transfer from Thurso to John O'Groats on Day 2
  • Private transfer from Thurso to Strathy on Day 4
  • Door to door baggage transfer - maximum 18 kg per bag
  • Detailed route itineraries
  • Location details for each accommodation
  • Travel information to the start and from the finish of the walk
  • Suggested equipment list
  • Emergency support

Not Included

  • Evening meals, packed lunches and drinks
  • Day trip to Orkney
  • Travel insurance

Customise My Walk

 

EasyWays recommends the Day Trip from John O'Groats to Orkney on Day 2 as a worthwhile experience and addition to your trek.

You can also add on a day at the end of The North Highland Way to visit Sandwood Bay, with an overnight at remote Kinlochbervie, a walk of 15 miles / 24 km (round trip). Take the morning bus from Durness to Kinlochbervie with baggage and check into Kinlochbervie Hotel, where you can leave your bags and walk to the glorious beach at Sandwood Bay which is run by the John Muir Trust. The beach is considered to be one of the cleanest and most unspoilt beaches in the whole of mainland Britain. The name Sandwood Bay probably derives from the Viking name ‘Sandvatn’ (sand water). The area has been largely uninhabited since 1847 when the land was cleared for sheep farming as part of the Highland Clearances.

The North Highland Way can be also be walked from west to east commencing at Durness or Kinlochbervie and ending at John O’Groats.

If you would like to stay an extra night at any point on the route, or make any other changes, please let us know in the Comments section of the Enquiry Form.

Stages and Distances
Thurso (3 nights)
10 miles - 16 km
Strathy
15.5 miles - 25 km
Bettyhill
15 miles - 24 km
Tongue
16 miles - 25.6 km
Durness
12 miles - 19 km
Durness
8 miles - 13km
(Kinlochbervie)


Map

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If you have any extra questions, feel free to contact us, we’d love to hear from you.

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