Faraid Head

Balnakeil Church
Balnakeil Church

North of Durness, a minor road leads to Balnakiel – basically no more than a ruined church, a house and a golf course – from where a beautiful walk leads out to the peninsula of Faraid Head.

We parked by the church (above) which dates from the 17th century but has been abandoned since the 19th. The grave of Elizabeth Parkes is here – she was the aunt John Lennon visited in Durness on his childhood holidays – but we couldn’t find it. (When I mentioned Lennon in my last post, I had no idea that I was actually writing on his birthday. He would have been 75 on 9th October.)

From the church, we set off across Balnakeil Bay:

Balnakeil Bay
Balnakeil Bay – Faraid Head in the distance
Balnakeil Bay
Balnakeil Bay – looking back

Once we could go no further on the beach, an access road took us up through the dunes onto the head itself, although sometimes the road disappeared under the shifting sand.

We left the access road to walk round the Head’s western edge:

When we crossed over to the eastern side, we found the road’s destination, an MOD (Ministry of Defence) training centre locally known as The Bee. I wonder why?

Carrying on along the eastern cliffs we began to be bothered by midges, so our stop at the cairn was quite short. We were glad when it started to rain as being wet was preferable to being bitten. The combination of the two made our return back down onto the dunes a hasty one – the shed below is more evidence of shifting sand.

The sun returned as we reached the bay again and Balnakeil House came back into view.

The house dates from 1744 and has been owned by the chiefs of Clan MacKay and the Duke of Sutherland. In 1904, it and its extensive sheep farm were sold to the Elliot family who still own it today. It’s surrounded by these bonny yellow flowers.

We returned to the car slightly sad that we would be leaving the area the next day – but glad that we still had a couple of days elsewhere before returning home. Coming next: Gairloch.

This post is linked to Jo’s Monday Walks. Follow the link to catch up with everyone else’s wanderings.


35 thoughts on “Faraid Head

  1. restlessjo October 12, 2015 / 11:57

    Your other half has excelled himself with these photos, Anabel! (apologies if it was you 🙂 ) I feel like I’m standing right there with a good lung full of fresh air (though the reality is the armchair with rain on the windowpane 😦 )
    Perhaps you would think about Ed Mooney’s history challenge? I know you love history. (the link was in my Medieval Fair posts). Many thanks for the link!


    • Anabel Marsh October 12, 2015 / 12:08

      It was definitely OH! Thanks on his behalf. I’ve been following Ed’s challenge, I’ve just never got round to doing it. I know lots of my recent posts would fit though – I should be better organised.


      • restlessjo October 12, 2015 / 12:15

        Don’t even mention the ‘o’ word! 😦 I don’t think I’ll ever work out how.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. anotherday2paradise October 12, 2015 / 12:27

    Great photos, Anabel. I really like the look of Balnakeil House. It’s hard to imagine John Lennon at 75, but I guess we’ve all aged since that fateful day. I wish he had been allowed to age along with us. I love his music.


    • Anabel Marsh October 12, 2015 / 12:31

      Thanks – on behalf of my photographer! It’s interesting to wonder what else John Lennon might have achieved – so much music we have missed.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh October 12, 2015 / 14:01

      Cool! A fleece required at all times (even when it’s sunny it’s windy) plus a rain jacket when required.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Birgit October 13, 2015 / 05:11

    What are midges? We have mosquitoes, black flies, horse flies but unsure what a midge is. This place looks so far away in some ways. I would not have thought anyone was buried in that cemetery so recent, Like form the 20th century:) The one picture looks like you are close, agian, to a cliff.


    • Anabel Marsh October 13, 2015 / 07:41

      Midges are tiny biting insects, smaller than mosquitos. A real pain in the summer, in still conditions anyway. Yes, I was surprised about the grave too. We couldn’t find any that looked modern enough but the info board at the gate said she was there.


  4. Alex Hurst October 13, 2015 / 05:41

    It’s all so beautiful~ except for that “Bee”…. bit of an eyesore in all that natural area… but the bay is gorgeous. How lucky you are to live so close to so many beautiful places!


    • Anabel Marsh October 13, 2015 / 07:45

      IT is an eyesore, but at least it’s right at the end of the peninsula and the land dips down so you don’t see too much of it till you get quite close. Scotland is beautiful – and you are never far from the sea.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Silvia Writes October 13, 2015 / 19:09

    Everything looks splendidly beautiful. I particularly like the undeveloped nature of the beach, the natural aspect. We have a few such beaches here, but most have been developed and made to shine to tourists/visitors.


    • Anabel Marsh October 13, 2015 / 19:25

      There are many such beaches in northern Scotland, beautiful and unspoilt. If the weather was warmer it might be a different matter!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. vannillarock October 14, 2015 / 08:36

    Stunning walk- I felt I was there, and no pesky midges to contend with. Been reading your comments thread and the lucky one enquiringly about midges – you missed the fact that in addition to biting they love to swarm on mass into the back of your mouth while you are trying to talk 😩😩
    Loved that sinking hut!!


    • Anabel Marsh October 14, 2015 / 08:44

      Yes, that’s disgusting! Fortunately, the rain came on just in time – and it was windy enough – to keep them at minor nuisance level rather than full-on swarm. Still got the repellent out though – a natural one which gardeners at one of our local garden centres swear by apparently. Hmm, it made me sneeze but that’s about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Fee October 15, 2015 / 10:22

    Fantastic views, as per. I hope the weather is better for your next stop!


    • Anabel Marsh October 15, 2015 / 11:28

      Thanks, it was a bit. Next post coming up very soon!


  8. clicksclan October 18, 2015 / 16:36

    Wow! It looks spectacular. I imagine standing by those cliffs could feel a little like you’d reached the edge of the world. 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh October 18, 2015 / 16:47

      A little! At least when you couldn’t see The Bee monstrosity.


    • Anabel Marsh October 19, 2015 / 07:38

      It is! Scotland has the most amazing beaches, especially in the Highlands and Islands, but I don’t fancy bathing on any of them. Too cold by far….

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Becky B October 19, 2015 / 08:49

    What a lovely walk – your writings and your ‘other half’s’ photographs really make you feel as though you are there.

    Glad not possible though for midges to pass through social media! Guess they though along with the variable weather are one of the reasons the beaches are so clean and empty.


    • Anabel Marsh October 19, 2015 / 10:50

      That’s true! I’m happy for them to be pristine and peaceful – apart from the midges!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Lucid Gypsy October 19, 2015 / 19:13

    Now that’s my idea of a fabulous beach and coastline!


  11. jazzfeathers October 20, 2015 / 05:58

    Another beautiful place. That beach looks wonderful, and I love that first photo of the ruined church. It’s inspiring 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh October 20, 2015 / 07:47

      So many lovely places! Torn between wanting to go back and finding new ones.


  12. Lori L MacLaughlin October 21, 2015 / 16:13

    Love the cliff photos. There’s something about cliffs that just make me want to stand there and gaze out to sea for hours.


    • Anabel Marsh October 21, 2015 / 16:26

      We did spend quite a long time there – not hours but plenty time to drink it all in,

      Liked by 1 person

  13. cvail October 26, 2015 / 18:02

    Faraid Head looks like someplace I’ve got to put on my list. I love those cliffs! Your flowers are so pretty, too.


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