We had a very early start this morning as Finn was on it and as we opened the blinds we were in a cloud of midges so we moved on straight away. We arrived in Helmsdale and parked in the spot that we should have driven to last night in hindsight. You cannot miss where to park, just join all the other campers in the harbour car park. There are limited spaces and when we arrived we got the last spot. Everyone had left by the time we had done some shopping at the Spar in the village, a little walk along the coast and a coffee in the cafe/tourist info opposite the car park as we desperately needed WiFi to send some emails. If you want to stop the night I think you may need to get there quite early.
We carried on up the A9 and can recommend another wild camping spot at Dunbeath, again we didn’t stop the night here but it looks like a great little spot on the coast.
From there we travelled to the Grey Cairns of Camster which are the oldest stone monuments to be discovered in Scotland, believed to be 5000 years old burial chambers. There are two reconstructed Cairns, the long and the round cairn. Human and animal bones were found inside the Cairns and you can go inside all of them. I would recommend the left hand side tunnel of the long cairn as it has the biggest entrance. We went in the right hand side as this was the first one we came to. It was very tight to get in, then it opens up to an area you can stand up in and it is light as there is a grill open to the sky in the middle.
Next in our archeological day we made a brief stop at the Hill O’Many Stanes. There is very little parking here, just a pull in. You only need a brief visit though and it is just off the road. There are about 192 flagstone slabs in a fan shapes of 22 rows and it is the largest of this type of monument in the British Isles. It is thought they may be 3000-4000 years old and could be a graveyard or an astronomical calculator, no one really knows.
Finally, we went to the Whaligoe Steps. Again, parking is a bit tight if you hit it at a busy time. Half of the spaces are reserved for residents and 5 spaces for visitors. There are about 350 man- steps down to a natural harbour below that we’re built to enable fish to be brought ashore. If you are not good with heights the beginning can be a bit bad but do not be put off as the steps have a verge all the way down and is fine at the bottom. If you are lucky enough to meet the caretaker he is very knowledgeable on the history of the steps. The sign does say no dogs but he was more than happy with ours going down with us.
Our overnight spot is at the parking area at the top of Loch Watten. There are a couple of areas to pull in. We are in the picnic area down by the Loch but there is no other space here as it is also used by local fisherman. There is space in the layby behind us which off the road.
Miles driven – 75
Miles walked – 4.8
Weather – dry, cloudy with sunny spells
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