Strathy

Strathy lies a half-mile (1 km) southeast of the mouth of the River Strathy and a half-mile (1km) southeast of Strathy Bay. Strathy is a costal settlement that grew to accommodate clearance villages mainly from Strathnaver. Until the clearances there had been just four crofters in Strathy. Strathy is a sparse and scattered community, spread across the wide valley of the River Strathy as it flows into Strathy Bay.

 

Strathy lies a little inland from Strathy Bay to the west of which stretches a peninsula terminated by the headland of Strathy point with a multitude of caves. Strathy has flagstone quarries and on the west side, by the water, are prehistoric remains. At Strathy bay and Strathy point the steep grassy slopes and dune grassland are rich in wild flowers and uncommon plants. From the point there is excellent views of the northern coastline. The cliffs at the point are impressive with a vast array of flora and fauna.

 

Strathy and nearby Armadale were clearance areas where people were forced to set up new homes or take the offer of cheap passages to the United States or Canada.

William Honeyman, an Edinburgh lawyer who was later to become Lord Armadale of Strathy bought the land of Strathy in 1790 from Captain John Mackay of Strathy. Honeyman is reputed to be the first landowner in north Sutherland to realise that his land was worth more when leased in chunks to Northumberland sheep farmers than when leased to tenant crofters and hence started the clearances. Many emigrated. William Honeyman sold the Strathy estate in 1813 to the Marquis of Stafford husband of the Countess of Sutherland. The clearances continued and by 1815 families living in Upper Strathy had been cleared to the coast and joined by families pushed out of Strathnaver. Strathy Mains the main farm of the estate was subsequently divided into crofts to form Strathy East and Strathy West.

 

Today Strathy is a scanty and strewn community, spread across the wide valley of the River Strathy as it flows into Strathy Bay.

 

This village has had four churches, all built between 1828 and 1910. Two have been converted for other purposes. The earliest of the four churches was built to a Thomas Telford design in 1828 and is located in the bottom of the valley to the west of the river. Built with Millennium Commission lottery funds Strathy has a new Village Hall where the Strathy Stone, probably an early Christian grave marker dating from about 600AD is housed.

A good vantage point to view the locality is the graveyard that is high on the east side of the river the village and the beach of Strathy Bay can be clearly seen and this provides the best access to the beach.

At the car park close to the cemetery is the locally named Log Bog:

 

At the west end of Strathy is the Inn. Nearby is the junction with a minor road that leads two miles north past straggling crofts to a parking area near the tip of Strathy Point. This also provides the best access to the beach. Nearby is the junction with a minor road that leads two miles north past straggling crofts to a parking area near the tip of Strathy Point. From here you can walk to the Strathy Point Lighthouse. Built in 1958. This lighthouse was the first in Scotland to be run on electricity, and the last to be built as a manned lighthouse. The station was sanctioned in 1953 and lighted in 1958. The station buildings, designed by the board’s engineer, P.H. Hysolop, are laid out in a hollow square with covered passageways, giving protection from the high winds on this exposed headland. The traditional round tower has been abandoned (curved walls require interior fittings made to match), and even the 35-foot concrete lantern tower is square. Strathy Point filled one of the last important blanks on the Scottish coast between Dunnet Head and Cape Wrath. It was converted to automatic operation in 1996 and the last keeper left March 31, 1997

 

Strathy Point was the first Scottish lighthouse built as an all-electric station accommodating a major light and fog signal. It was sanctioned in 1953 and lit in 1958. Its exact position is 58 degrees 36.9’N, 4 degrees O¾W. It has a low white tower of fourteen meters in height built on a white house. The lantern flashes white every twenty seconds and its nominal range is twenty seven miles. There is also a fog siren that has four diaphone blasts every 90 seconds. This was the last major light built by the Northern Lighthouse Board to be manned, and the first to be built since Esha Ness in Shetland, established in 1929. Like that lighthouse and Duncansby Head (1924), it has a square-section tower.

 

A series of lime works is situated along the north coast of Sutherland and working a limestone seam which outcrops there. These works primarily produced lime for agricultural improvements.

Close by is the new Village Hall, This houses the Strathy Stone, probably an early Christian grave marker dating from about 600AD.

 

The Priests Stone

 

This display is a replica of a stone to be found on the hill about half a mile south of the Strathy point road end. (NC 8310493). It would have marked the grave of a person who had high standing in the community. Local legend says it is the grave of a priest. After the foundation of the abbey of lona by St. Columba and his Irish priests, other missionaries travelled the highlands. The stone is either of the early Christian periods probably 7 the Century or dates from the much later period of the 13″1 Century. Though the stone once stood it has long since fallen. On the hillside to the east of the Priests stone there are numerous hut circles and enclosures dating form the bronze or the Iron age.

Strathy salmon station is operated by only one netsman Simon Patterson, Strathy is one of the most productive of the remaining wild Scottish salmon stations the only other being Armadale. There is concern that this one in Strathy may soon cease to exist.