Kyle of Tongue
A shallow sea loch located in the western part of Sutherland, on the northern coast of Scotland, 8 miles long, with amazing views towards Ben Loyal and Ben Hope when you look south, and Castle Varrich standing on a bluff facing the small village, this is Kyle of Tongue! Views from the causeway which crosses the loch from east to west are so spectacular that this area has been declared one of the 40 National Scenic Areas of Scotland.
I have spent 3 months in Tongue during the end of winter and spring of 2020, a very special period under lock-down due to the COVID-19 crisis. Social distancing was not a real issue there given the very low density of population in Sutherland, probably the lowest of Scotland. I took advantage of free time to take long walks around the loch and of course practice photography.
The castle stands on a local high point of rock, overlooking both the loch and the village of Tongue. Its precise origins and age are unknown however it was certainly the ancient seat of the chief of the Clan Mackay. To be honest, the castle looks like a simple square tower and has nothing special. What is spectacular are the views towards the sea to the north, Ben Loyal to the east and Ben Hope to the west!
I have kept very good memories of this castle that I have been watching every day for 3 months from the cottage I was renting in the village. The different seasons are visible in the pics below. I have climbed up-there several times with my wife, a pleasant 30 minutes walk. On the way down from the castle, she always used to pick-up kindling to light the fire. Because of the ongoing lock-down, we never met anyone with the exception of young deer.
This is a beautiful beach on the western side of the Kyle, near Talmine. Its shape reminds me of the back of humpback whales but it evolves with the tide. You can walk down to the beach from Skinnet, a small crofting community, following a narrow path, then crossing the dunes. At low tide you can follow Skinnet Beach for almost a mile towards the south, with amazing views of Ben Loyal.
Entrance to the Kyle of Tongue with the three Rabbit Islands.
Skullomie is a small fishing and crofting township at the head of Tongue Bay. I used to drive there once or twice a month and visit the small harbor located just below the township. I could walk all around the rocky islet where a quay was built during the 19th century. The islet is linked to the shore by a causeway, ramped on the harbor side, and partly paved. The most interesting spots on the islet are either facing north, with good views of the cliffs at sunset, or south with views towards Ben Tongue and Ben Hope. The rocks and old stones on the islet itself are very photogenic in spring, covered by pink sea thrift (Armeria maritima) and orange lichen.
Skullomie was one of the sites from which crofters embarked on ships to locations such as America and Australia during the Highland Clearances.