GATEWAYS

Forsinard

Just after the hamlet of Melvich, twelve miles east of Bettyhill, the A897 cuts south through Strath Halladale, the Flow Country and the Strath of Kildonan to Helmsdale on the east coast. About 15 miles south of Melvich, at Forsinard, is an RSPB Visitor Centre. The peatlands here are a breeding ground for black- and red-throated divers, golden plovers and merlins as well as other species. There is a sizable hotel here. Strath Halladale is a gentle introduction to the area. A gradual passage into the wild and empty land of Mackay Country. The road runs alongside the Halladale River and the population make full use of this fertile land. There is no centre with shops, post office in Halladale. The old church and village hall are the central points but this is an active crofting community.
NC 884 406 One mile south of Forsinard raihvay station on A897 adjacent to the start of forestry plantation beside the RSPB cairn. 
Just after the hamlet of Melvich, twelve miles east of Bettyhill, the A897 cuts south through Strath Halladale, the Flow Country and the Strath of Kildonan to Helmsdale on the east coast.

Strath Halladale is a gentle introduction to the area. A gradual passage into the wild and empty land of Mackay Country. The road runs alongside the Halladale River and the population make full use of this fertile land. There is no centre with shops, post office in Halladale. The old church and village hall are the central points but this is an active crofting community.Upper Bighouse - A small linear hamlet, Upper Bighouse lies on the western side of the Halladale River, 4 miles (6½ km) south of Melvich. Immediately to the west lies Bighouse Hill, which rises to 145m (476 feet).

 

Halladale River

 

The Halladale rises 4 miles (6.5 km) southeast of Forsinard. It flows northwards through Strath Halladale before entering the Pentland Firth at Melvich Bay. The Halladale is a well known salmon river. Along its 15 mile length there are some 50 named pools. Excellent wild brown trout fishing can also be enjoyed in the numerous hill lochs. Gillies/Guides are available on request to increase both the enjoyment of the sport and also its productivity!

The Strath mostly privately owned by large estates. There is some hill farming (mainly sheep) but the principal focus of the estates and the local economy is field sports particularly deer stalking, grouse shooting and fishing in the rivers and many hundreds of hill lochs. The countryside comprises wild moorland and mountains. The mountains are relatively low. .The terrain consists largely of peat bogs and heather and is covered in a myriad of lochs and lochans and is a haven for a wide range of rare bird life (golden plover and eagle, hen harrier, peregrine etc.) and animals such as red deer, roe deer, otter and wild cat. It is also a paradise for botanists. Much of this high ground is known as the ‘Flow Country’, and is world-renowned

The Flow Country

 

The Flow Country is the name given to the blanket peat and wet lands which cover over 400,000 ha (988,400 acres) of Caithness and Sutherland. It is probably the largest area of blanket bog in the northern hemisphere and one of the most intact such areas in the world. 'Flows' is the local term for the intricate pattern of peat bogs and pool systems (or 'dubh lochans'), but the term 'Flow Country' was coined by outsiders in the 1980s when conservationists mounted a sophisticated campaign to halt afforestation. The controversy ended with a judgment by the Secretary of State for Scotland dividing the Flow Country between forests and conservation but by 1990 large scale planting had ceased. The arguments in favour of conserving the Flows highlighted their landscape value, their significance as a biological resource and their wider scientific importance.

South from Forsinard and exiting Mackay Country on the A897 leads to Kinbrace. From here the B871 heads northwest and renters Mackay Country just prior to Dalvina Lodge.

 

Just after the hamlet of Melvich, twelve miles east of Bettyhill, the A897 cuts south through Strath Halladale, the Flow Country and the Strath of Kildonan to Helmsdale on the east coast.

 

South from the coast at Melvich the A897 follows the river Halladale heads to Forsinard and the Flow Country, a vast expanse of bleak bog of major ecological importance. A landscape shaped by plants and scarcely touched by humans. The peat is built up into a blanket of bog by bog mosses, which still flourish here in a remarkable range of forms. Mysterious patterns of dark pools and small lochans dot the landscape which is home to wild birds such as the Greenshank, Diver, Curlew and Hen Harrier. On the border of Sutherland and Caithness Strath Halladale lies in a sparsely populated area of outstanding natural beauty. Strath Halladale is strung out down a landscape of more rolling and less rugged backdrop but still with the sense of remote and isolation. Strath Halladale is the spiritual home of the MacKay clan The Strath mostly privately owned by large estates. There is some hill farming (mainly sheep) but the principal focus of the estates and the local economy is field sports particularly deer stalking, grouse shooting and fishing in the rivers and many hundreds of hill lochs.

The countryside comprises wild moorland and mountains. The mountains are relatively low. The terrain consists largely of peat bogs and heather and is covered in a myriad of lochs and lochans and is a haven for a wide range of rare bird life (golden plover and eagle, hen harrier, peregrine etc.) and animals such as red deer, roe deer, otter and wild cat. It is also a paradise for botanists. Much of this high ground is known as the 'Flow Country', and is world-renowned. About 15 miles south of Melvich, at Forsinard, is an RSPB Visitor Centre. The peatlands here are a breeding ground for black- and red-throated divers, golden plovers and merlins as well as other species. There is a sizable hotel here.

Mackay Country Community Trust Limited is a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland No. 331267

and a registered Scottish Charity No SCO38792

To provide a structure to allow the development of partnership between the communities and community groups operating in and comprising Mackay Country.

Registered Office: Farr Edge 2000 "The Hut" Bettyhill by Thurso Caithness KW14 7SS.

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