|Track length:||48.77 km|
|Total ascent:||541 m|
|Total descent:||497 m|
|Difficulty Level:||3/5 - Medium|
Thurso coastline is a section of the Atlantic in the county of Caithness, in northern Scotland, the reef is made of layers of Caithness flagstone, this is Scotland's prime surfing venue on the north coast.
Thurso to Betty hill Cycling from the A9 at Thurso onto the A836 coast road is about 30 miles
Starting at the mouth of the River Thurso, overlooked by the remains of Thurso Castle take the A836 past the hamlet of Crosskirk is situated less than 1 mile north east of Forss and 3 miles west of Thurso, the ancient Crosskirk Broch fortification used to stand on a promontory near the hamlet, but has been eroded into the sea, over the bridge of Forss, carry onto Dounreay was originally the site of a castle and its name derives from the Gaelic for 'fort on a mound, since the 1950s it has been the site of two nuclear establishments, for the development of prototype fast breeder reactors and submarine reactor testing, most of these facilities are now being decommissioned, continue on to Isauld ten miles west of Thurso, mainly farming country, there are numerous small lochs, as well as the peaks of Beinn Ratha and Fresgoe on the coast is the main harbour for the village of Reay, overlooking Sand side Bay in Caithness, it was built in the early 1830s, by a Major William Innes, primarily to encourage fishing and was also used on the north coast trading route.
Continuing on the A836 to the little communities of Melvich and Portskerra located at the end of Strath Halladale, where the River Halladale flows into the sea at Melvich Bay.
Melvich itself lies on the main road that runs the entire length of the north Sutherland coast, while Portskerra can be found down a side road towards the sea. Melvich Beach is an unspoilt stretch of golden sands, lies at the head of the bay, you can reached it from the village by a signposted track which leads to a parking area just above the dunes, on the eastern side of the bay is Bighouse Lodge. Built in the 1760s, this large house was owned by the Mackays, who also owned the lands of Strath Halladale, as well as the lodge, there are also other buildings including the barracks, a walled garden, a garden pavilion and an ice house, it is believed that the barracks were used to house troops during the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, the Bighouse and its lands in Strath Halladale were sold to the Marquis of Stafford and the Countess of Sutherland in 1829, becoming part of the Sutherland Estates, one of the main contributions that led to thousands of people being evicted from their homes and farms, there are many accounts of people being forcibly evicted and houses, even whole settlements, being set on fire by the over zealous actions of the people employed by the Duke. Portskerra has always been a fishing community, and close to its pier you will find the Drowning Memorial, this monument commemorates the many fishermen from the village who over the years have been lost at sea, the memorial stone includes a verse by the celebrated poet Hugh Macintosh, who was born in Portskerra in 1901.
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Strathy is a scattered community in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands. Strathy is on the north coast of Scotland, on the A836 road some twenty miles west of Thurso, it is a sparse and scattered community, spread across the wide valley of the River Strathy as it flows into beautiful Strathy Bay, you can walk to the Strathy Point Lighthouse, built in 1958 this was the first in Scotland to be run on electricity, and the last to be built as a manned lighthouse.
It was converted to automatic operation in 1996, then carry on to Armadale about 30 miles west of the town of Thurso, off the A836 road. Armadale is first mentioned in charters in the 13th century as part of the parish of Farr, there was a small fishing hamlet The coastline on this stretch was very interesting with many sea inlets and rock formations, port a’ Chin with its amazing rock stacks with a significant gully running in from the sea at Port and other tourist spots nearby including Smoo Cave, Cocoa Mountain Chocolate Factory, John O Groats and Dunnet Head.
From Kirtomy continue on the A863 onto Betty Hill and the finish of this part of the bicycle route, the village Spreading east is a sheltered bowl of the older parts of the village, including the Parish Church of Farr, now the Strathnaver Museum, to the north you will find a rock framed sandy beach of Farr Bay and to the west and beyond the River Naver and the stunning expanse of sand making up Torrisdale Bay, a lovely spot to visit full of wildlife and rugged landscapes welcoming the visitors from all over the world to enjoy trout fishing in the lochs, Hill walking, strolling along the breathtaking beaches and hills, and spending time at some of the fascinating historical sites, neolithic cairns, burial mounds, and brochs, Caithness has more brochs than any other area in Scotland, or learn about Iron Age structures at the Scottish Broch Centre at Nybster, along this route you have so much to see and do.