Local tips: Things to do in Northern Scotland – Derek Beattie, Photographer

Derek Beattie lives in Dumfries and Galloway and is an enthusiastic amateur photographer who enjoys travelling in the Northwest Highlands as often as the ” real ” job allows.

Derek Beattie
Derek Beattie

How long have you lived here?

I’ve lived in Dumfries and Galloway for the past dozen years or so after giving up the 24/7 buzz of working in and around busy airports, worked in the south for many years and like so many others the call of home was too hard to resist.

Favourite beach

My favourite beach is Sandwood Bay on the Northwest coast of Sutherland, reputedly the most isolated beach in Scotland being four miles from the nearest road. Some say the walk in is not that exciting and they may have a point to a degree but it is so worth it for what awaits at the end of that walk, a beach that has a 200 feet high sea stack ” Am Buachaille ” at one end, a mile of golden and white sand with massive dunes behind it, a lagoon and a loch which empties in to the bay giving a small river to cross at the other end of the beach where if you so choose you can walk the seven or eight miles along the headlands to Cape Wrath. I am beginning to lose count the number of times I have visited Sandwood and can honestly say I have not been disappointed yet.

Stay at a holiday cottage near Sandwood Bay

Sandwood Bay by Derek Beattie
Sandwood Bay by Derek Beattie

Best walk in the northwest Highlands

My most enjoyable walk of recent is not that far, only a five or six miles round trip. Starting near Inverkirkaig on the Sutherland Wester Ross border, a somewhat boggy when wet path loosely follows the route of the River Kirkaig upstream giving superb views of the river until you reach the Falls of Kirkaig a pretty impressive waterfall of around 60 feet, even more so when the river is in spate.

River Kirkaig, near Inverkirkaig by Derek Beattie
River Kirkaig, near Inverkirkaig by Derek Beattie

Carry on the path after the falls and you arrive at Fionn Loch which affords a really nice view across the loch to Suilven.

things to do in northern Scotland - View of Suilven across Fionn Loch
View of Suilven across Fionn Loch

A waterfall and mountain like that is worth getting your feet a little wet for.

Most special time of year where you live and why

Late Summer, although where I live there are dark skies to be found, they are even darker further north in Scotland and the Milky Way can be seen at its best at this time of year.

Milky Way by Derek Beattie
Milky Way by Derek Beattie

The one thing that you recommend every tourist should do when visiting your area

Only applicable when the nights are longer but I would recommend getting out in the countryside away from the streetlights and give stargazing a try, once your eyes have become adjusted to the dark you will be blown away by the amount of stars you can see on a clear moonless night!

Stargazing by Derek Beattie
Stargazing by Derek Beattie

Your best wildlife encounter

Nothing exotic, plain and simply deer, I always find it so enjoyable when you come across a location where our largest land mammals can be seen locking antlers, especially in winter.

Deer rutting in winter by Derek Beattie
Deer rutting in winter by Derek Beattie

Favourite drive in the Northwest Highlands

The road to Kinloch Hourn, a twenty one mile drive from near Invergarry all the way to Loch Hourn at the start of the Knoydart Peninsula. A terrific stretch of single track road with mountain views most of the way as it passes by Loch Garry and Loch Quoich, deer in abundance at most times of the year and usually a herd of Highland cattle on the road for good measure, a really nice drive at any time of the year, snow permitting but especially nice in Autumn.

The road to Kinloch Hourn by Derek Beattie
The road to Kinloch Hourn by Derek Beattie

Most loved view and why

An impossible question to answer but I am rather fond of the views of the Isle of Skye that can be seen from the mainland this one from near Glenelg looking across the Sound of Sleat.

View of Skye from Glenelg looking across the Sound of Sleat
View of Skye from Glenelg looking across the Sound of Sleat

Favourite place to eat and drink

I don’t really have a favourite place but would recommend the Shieldaig Bar, it’s a great place to sit outside and have a beer on a summer’s evening. My favourite dish is freshly caught sea trout, cooked in the open as soon as you can after landing it.

An extra top tip

One tip I would like to pass on for anyone travelling in the Northwest Highlands is take all the little roads that are signposted off the main roads, especially the ” no through roads ” these tend to be the least travelled and often the most rewarding.

Holiday Scottish Highlands & Islands says…

Thanks to Derek for the top tips on where to go in the northwest Highlands and Islands and the beautiful photos. We really need to get up to Sandwood Bay as it does look incredible and, unsurprisingly, it features in our post about the best beaches in Scotland. We also love the photos of the incredible starry skies and the Milky Way. The dark skies in Scotland’s Highlands and Islands are always a wonderful sight.

Find out more about Derek Beattie

My personal website: www.derekbeattieimages.com
My Facebook Photography Page: facebook.com/DerekBeattiePhotography
Twitter: twitter.com/derekbtimages

Want more local tips?

If you want more insider knowledge we have lots more locals sharing their advice about what to see in Scotland including:

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