The long valley of Strathnaver runs for seventeen miles south from Bettyhill to Altnaharra and was once heavily populated.
It formed part of the 1.5 million acre estates of the Countess of Sutherland and her husband, the Marquess of Stafford (later to become the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland), from which 15,000 people were cleared between 1811 and 1821, mostly by the estate factor, Patrick Sellar.
The Countess of Sutherland, in a move unusual for the time, had a replacement village built near the coast on the east side of the mouth of the River Naver. This she named after herself as Bettyhill. Bettyhill Tourist Information Centre is situated on the northern coast of Scotland.
Bettyhill, the Gaelic name is An Bloran Odor – The grey place has a population of about 492. Once known as Bettyhill of Farr and founded originally as a fishing and agricultural centre. Bettyhill is a fairly recent creation. To day this is a crofting community set among rocky green hills, straggles along the side of a narrow tidal estuary, and down the coast to two splendid beaches, which in the past had the functions of a small port, market and resort above Torrisdale Bay. To north is Farr Bay, where precious stones can be found.
The village of Bettyhill makes a good stop. Bettyhill is a small and dispersed settlement on the North Coast between the villages of Tongue to the west and Melvich to the east. Bettyhill sits on the northern coastline 9 miles (15 km) south west of Strathy Point.
Bettyhill’s principal attractions are the expanse of Torrisdale Bay, the Strathnaver Museum and salmon fishing on the River Naver. The Strathnaver Museum, probably better known as “The Mackay Museum”, has an upstairs, older & larger section devoted to the ancient Clan Mackay. The whole of the north-western highlands (Assynt to Cape Wrath, Loch Shin to Strath Halladale and Reay) was known as “Mackay Country” from the 13th century.
The region is the remotest and most sparsely populated on the British mainland and is still completely unspoiled. To the west the scenery has a rugged, desolate grandeur and to the southeast lies the unique Flow Country. Nearby are some delightful Straths, the Invernaver Nature Reserve, Borgie Forest and the Kyle of Tongue.
There are several mountains including two Munros, Ben Hope and Ben Clebrig. Ben Loyal is noted for its five peaks and is known as “The Queen of Scottish Mountains”. Sutherland is a notable region for fishing enthusiasts with salmon, sea trout and brown trout all affording excellent sport and seasonally available locally.
There are some unusual and outstanding areas for bird walks, deer watching, mountain climbing and hill walking to local peaks offering panoramic views of the coastline further West. Ospreys have been seen taking fish on the Naver and there have been sightings of the Great Northern Diver from time to time.
Where the Strathnaver flows into the sea
Bettyhill is a very spread out village set in some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery, with beautiful beaches and amazing landscapes. The River Naver is famous for its fishing. Permits are available from The Store.
Fig: The Road from
Thurso to Bettyhill
The Road from Thurso to Bettyhill
The road is mostly a two lane road in good condition, you will find parts of it are still single track though. The main thing to watch out for are the SHEEP!
Bettyhill Tourist Information Centre
Bettyhill By Thurso,
Sutherland KW14 7SS
Phone: +44 (0)1641 521342
Fax: +44 (0)1641 521342
Find out more about Bettyhill, Melvich, Skerray and Halladale here and also See and Do In The Tongue and Bettyhill