Durness

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Durness is a coastal Village 105 miles northwest of Inverness, one of the most remote areas in Scotland.

Durness is popular for its Beaches, Golf, Touring Park, Smoo Cave, Balnakeil Craft Village, and trips to Cape Wrath, furthest northwest point in Scotland.

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The image top is of the War Memorial in the centre of Durness.

The second image is of Durness main street with a Spar Shop and small Gas Station. Places to fill up your car or camper van are few and far between up this way and most of the roads are single lane with many passing places.

Sango Sands Touring and Camping Park is situated on the east side of the Village with great views over Sango Sands Beach.

Mackay's Rooms B&B is in the centre of the village by the shop and memorial.

The Lazy Crofter Bunkhouse is also in the Village centre.

Balnakeil is situated about 1 mile west of Durness with the Durness Golf Club, vast White Sand Beach stretching out to Faraid Head, and Old Church built in the 1600. This is a popular walking area with trails well marked. Faraid Head Walk .

Also at Balnakeil is the Balnakeil Craft Village with a number of local artists & businesses such as a chocolatier, art galleries, paintings & prints, ceramics, woodwork, glass work, and more.

Smoo Cave is situated under 2 miles east of Durness, a popular spot to explore with it being one of the largest Sea Caves in the UK. There are also scenic walks in that area.

Durness History

Stone Age - there are two turf dykes of Neolithic origin to the south of the Village. There is also what looks like a Broch on Faraid Head, although this is now mostly covered in sand.

700s - a Celtic Monastery was built at Balnakeil.

875 - the Norse / Vikings began taking control of the North and Western Islands of Scotland. They also tried to gain control of some areas in north Scotland, and carried out many brutal attacks throughout Scotland.

1200s - the Vikings were forced out of mainland Scotland, and later out of the Islands as well.

1300s - the Mackay's became the dominant Clan in the Durness area owning vast amounts of Land.

1500s - the earliest parts of Balnakeil House were built for the Mackay's.

1600s - the earliest parts of Balnakeil Church were built.

1623 - Donald McLeod dies and is buried at Balnakeil Church. McLeod was a henchman of the Mackay's, said to have committed a number of murders in the area for the Mackay's.

1800s early - Clan Mackay sold their land and Balnakeil House to the Countess of Sutherland.

1800s early - the Countess of Sutherland began clearing Crofters from the land so she could start large scale sheep farming. Many of the Crofters from this area moved to the coast for fishing, others south to large towns and cities, and others emigrated to America and Canada.

1814 - a parish church was built at Durness, leading to Balnakeil Church falling into ruin. The graves of the Gaelic poet Robb Donn, and Elizabeth Parkes, aunt of the Beetle John Lennon, can be found at Balnakeil Church.

1841 - the Durness Riots began after women in the area refused to be evicted from their land. The Military were brought in to end the riots. The Riots are said to have prevented as many families being removed from the area than was intended.

1886 - the Crofting Act was introduced to make it harder for Landowners to evict long standing Crofters. As long as they worked the land and paid rent, Crofters then had a legal right to remain.

1904 - Balnakeil House was sold to the Elliot's.

1950s - after World War Two - there was a Radar Station installed at Faraid Head. There was also Military Barracks built at Balnakeil, although these were never used by the Military.

1964 - the Barracks at Balnakeil were bought by the local Council to be rented out for small businesses.

1976 - the Crofting Act gave Crofters the legal right to purchase their land.

1980 - the Council sold the Balnakeil Barracks to the Sitting Tenants, leading to them becoming the Balnakeil Craft Village.

1991 - the body of a young Viking boy was discovered in the sand dunes at Faraid Head. Erosion had led to the body being exposed.

2000 - the body of a Pictish child was discovered at Sangobeg beach.

Today - Durness and Balnakeil are extremely popular with the vast numbers of tourers traveling around the north coast of Scotland.

Cape Wrath is the most north western area of Scotland, best visited through tours as it is used by the Ministry of defense for target practice with large warships often seen or heard firing shells and missiles at targets on the Cape. Probably best to visit when this is not taking place, you do not want to be having a picnic on the wrong beach at the wrong time.



Durness Photos





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