Just wild about blustery Brora

04 February 2006 Respond to this article

Just wild about blustery Brora

Article by Angela Dewar - The Sunday Times - Scotland

Who needs to sunbathe when there is fascinating history, stupendous views and abundant birdlife on offer, asks Angela Dewar.

The clear blue skies are endless and the sweeping beaches spread out for miles along the coastline. If the temperature was 20C warmer, this could be the Caribbean. But the biting wind and wintry sunshine are constant reminders that this idyllic spot is Brora, in the far northeast of Scotland — a place of breathtaking beauty, but only rarely of balmy weather.

Well, you’d hardly expect a heatwave an hour’s drive north of Inverness. Even the small stone houses clustered around the tiny harbour provide little protection against the wind that can come racing in from the North Sea. But if this is a place where the gales will colour your skin more than the sun, there are compensations. Not least those staggering views.

You get a sense of what’s to come as the main road heads north from the Dornoch Firth. The drive around the bay is simply one of the most exhilarating in the country. Rolling hills sweep down to meet the untamed North Sea as the A9 advances under a huge sky.

It’s soon plain the birds buffeted on the wind are not just common or garden seagulls. Great and Arctic skuas ride the currents, while out at sea, gannets plunge into the water in great streaks of white. The locals love their birdlife — the summer visiting Arctic tern is the emblem of Brora Golf Club.

Once a thriving industrial village busy with crofting, boat-building and mining, Brora is settling into a new tourism-friendly era with the distillery at Clynelish, fishing boats catching crab and lobster and a woollen mill still in operation.