Dunnet Head

The lighthouse on Dunnet Head, with the Orkneys beyond
The lighthouse on Dunnet Head, with
the Orkneys beyond

Up in the top-right corner of Scotland (the north-east, if you prefer) is the most northerly point in the British mainland. On a clear day - which we were fortunate enough to have - you can see all the way to Cape Wrath in the west across to John o'Groats in the east, and from the wilds of the Highlands in the south clear across the Pentland Firth to the Orkneys.

The drive from the village of Dunnet up to the Head is lined with yellow gorse and zigzags across a landscape of peat, heather and bog until you finally emerge onto the Head itself, which these days is a reserve managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The lighthouse is rather small and stubby, but a towering beacon would be wholly superfluous in view of its position on top of the Head.

We strolled up to the highest point and sat for a while enjoying the stupendous views, but then the chill wind drove us back to the van - but we could hardly wait for the morrow when we would embark on the ferry to cross the treacherous Pentland Firth.