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Eastern Gateway

Sutherland Caithness Border

This gateway to Mackay Country is in terms of the area flat and although holds a typical empty and lonely land is not as magnificent as the other gateways. As the west of the northern Highlands is approached from the east the scenery of Highlands becomes dramatic and the distant mountains become fully dominant. At the Sutherland Caithness border the introduction is distant and this is where the journey into the mysterious and land of legend begins, or ends should this be the exit form a journey that has inspired and motivated many.


Reaching the A836 to the east is the county boundary and the gateway used to identify Mackay Country of the east today. In the past the border has been recognised at Drumhollistan and at the “Split Stane” a cleft in the rock. One version of a local legend tells how the devil himself traveling along the road in a spiteful mood split the rock with his tail.

Caithness / Sutherland Border NC 919 645 on the A836 on the left facing west.

“That road we often travelled in the days when we were young:
There’s magic and there’s beauty in those hills when passing through
There’s many a mile from Lairg to the waters of Kylesku.”


Andrew Mackenzie

 This is a superb country. Communities here are generally small with wild rewarding places and a huge choice of hill lochs some seldom visited a satisfaction to those that love solitude. Any one who travels here will be struck by a sense of being somewhere different. The sheer atmosphere of these northlands makes a big impression. Ultimately, however, it is the wilderness experience of the far north and its all but empty grandeur with the mountain landscapes and secluded beaches which will leave the strongest impression. Mackay Country is an ancient and culturally rich area, with a colorful, though often bloody, history. This turbulent and romantic heritage is reflected strongly in the breathtakingly varied countryside of the Highlands, in its old communities and villages, and in the people who live and work there.
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