Tuesday, November 3, 2015

North Coast 500 - A Scottish Golfing Tour. Day 13 Thurso... and back to Wick

The 'double' bunker on Thurso's 8th hole
Somebody pinch the meteorology service. Another day in the Scottish Highlands and another 15 degrees and non-stop sunshine along the North Coast 500. You wouldn't believe it is you weren't here.

When I started this North Coast 500 adventure I set myself three non-golfing

1. See dolphins. I was assured that just turning up at Chanonry Point on the Black Isle would be enough to lure the dolphins... but not this time. And no sight of them since.

2. Stag/s. Up here they're as common as the people... so about two for every square kilometre. To date, no sign... but hoping tomorrow may produce some results.

3. The Aurora Borealis. You can't get much farther north than Thurso, and I'm spending four days travelling this northern strip. I had high hopes.
The Aurora over Dunnet Head, tonight.
And tonight I struck gold, so to speak. I ended up on the beach above Dunnet Bay where the Aurora did a bit of green dazzle over Dunnet Head. An owl even flew by to see what I was doing, its flight as silent as the grave.
Thurso's 13th hole, green to tee.
I was at Thurso Golf Club, today, a club that has taken a bit of a critical bashing from other golfers as I've made my way north. I wasn't remotely surprised to find it was considerably better than anticipated. I was expecting a goat track, but it is certainly better than that. Drainage is a problem, apparently, but after all this sunshine it wasn't too bad at all under foot... and sunshine does make a golf course look a whole lot better.
The par three 5th. This is where you'll see the best views.
My B&B landlady, Antoinette, asked me where I was off to and then helped me when I said I was open to suggestions. Which is how I ended up returning to Wick. The Whaligoe Steps and Castle Sinclair Girnigoe (previously recommended by Andy, but not found by me) specifically. The Steps, of which there are 365 (purportedly), date back to the 19th century. Fishermen caught the fish and then tied up in this small safe and natural harbour between the cliffs. It was left to the women to carry the catch up the steps to the top.
Castle Sinclair with Ackergill Tower to the left, in the distance.
I confess to chickening out about halfway down and I'm glad I did. I was out of breath and doubled over by the time I got back to the top. Golfers don't do steps.

The castle sits out on Noss Head. Dating back to the 16th century (and possibly earlier) it is a large ruin/structure, currently having some structural work done to it. What I found fascinating was its remoteness, even now, and that during the 40 minutes I spent there I didn't see another soul. It sits at one end of Sinclair Bay, with a long stretch of beach running under the dunes (Wick Golf Club is on the other side of one section)... all the way to another 16th century castle at the other end.

1 comment:

  1. Love the Dunnet Head image. Pretty remote up there but beautiful.