Home > Vacation > Scotland – Day 7: Dunrobin, Thurso

Scotland – Day 7: Dunrobin, Thurso

January 15, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments


Continue an unforgettable journey and follow the coast road to majestic DUNROBIN CASTLE, for centuries the seat of the Dukes and Earls of Sutherland. Visit the formal gardens and enjoy a fascinating FALCONRY DISPLAY. Before dinner you may want to join your Tour Director for an optional excursion to a local pub.


Now we come to the second half of tour. The towns are much smaller and the hotels are more… interesting. We only had one stop today, Dunrobin Castle. There aren’t many photos, especially since we were not allowed to take photos inside the castle, as is often the case. So we’ll go over some history first, then onto the castle.

One of the most infamous events of Scottish history is the Highland Clearances during the 17th and 18th centuries. At that time, thousands of people made their living via farming, but residing in poor conditions. The short version is that the aristocrats, or landlords, sought to “improve” the plight of the common people by moving them to coastal areas where they would take up fishing instead and live a better life. Whatever. The reality is that these people were forced off their lands, often violently. In their place, was set up more profitable (for the landlords) sheep farming. Convenient.

Driving up through the highlands there are 3 monuments that we ran across pertaining to the Clearances. The first is the Fyrish Monument. Read the link for details. I don’t think our guide mentioned it in detail, if it all. From the pictures I’ve seen, it offers a spectacular view on a clear day. I, however, can only offer this:

Next is a massive statue of the 1st Duke of Sutherland. Again, supposedly the Duke and his wife were appalled by the living conditions and were responsible for thousands of relocations. Consequently, he has become one of the most hated men in Scotland. In 1837, a few years after this death, a 100 ft. statue of him was erected on top a major hill. This monument dominates the skyline, which does not sit well with the locals. Its removal has been attempted multiple times, both legally and illegally. I am not sure how much longer it can stand.

Further north up the road is the small town of Helmsdale. In 2007, The Emigrants Statue was placed here to commemorate the success of the Scottish who survived the Clearances and persevered.

Back to photography. The statue is very scenically placed, right next to the coast. There’s a beautiful stone bridge in nearby, too. The weather was pretty miserable, so only a handful of us braved it to take photos. The following picture alone made it worthwhile.


The home of the Sutherlands is Dunrobin Castle. Situated on the coast, it is certainly a good representation of the fairytale-like palaces. Much of this is due to the remodel in the mid-1800’s. The castle itself originates from the 14th century, at least.

At this time of year, the sun rises directly behind the castle. Plan your visit accordingly (see above photo). The rear (?) of the castle looks out over the North Sea.

The gardens are amazing. I know I say that every day, but with this much rain, it’s unavoidable. With them in the foreground and the castle in the background, you can’t miss taking a good photo.

Something else you shouldn’t miss is the falconry display performed twice a day. It is much better than anything I’ve ever seen in Texas and includes a wider variety of birds. I will cover this in detail in a later post regarding wildlife.

Giant Rhubarb!

We had a light and very good lunch at the cafe in the castle before getting back on the bus to Thurso.


Far up the road is Thurso, the northernmost town on the mainland. It’s a small town, with not a lot to do. We elected to not partake in storytime at the local pub and instead walk around and relax in the room. We did the quick half-mile walk up to the northern coast. That’s pretty neat to look out over sea so far north. We were able to make out what I think was Orkney, our destination for the next day.

Our hotel was the St. Clair. I liked this hotel. While not much to look at on the outside, the inside has been remodeled. The bathrooms look brand new, although I can’t say I’ve ever been in a smaller one. It’s amazing there is room for the door to open. The people were nice, if somewhat overwhelmed by us. The bar was welcoming and wifi is free. The only bad thing about the hotel itself is the plumbing (flushing, I think) is very loud. This is not good when there are dozens of people there. The only bad thing we ran into regarding the town (and John had warned us about this) are the cars. Apparently there is nothing else to do at night, and the kids with no taste put those awful exhausts on their cars and just up and down the streets at night. We have a name for those types of people but I won’t say it :)

This hotel worked well for us and I hope it works well for them, too.

Favorite Thurso sign

Full Gallery

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  1. January 16, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Great landscape image with the bridge.

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