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Durness
Scottish Gaelic: Diuranais
Durness (Scotland)
Durness

Durness shown within Scotland
Population 400 (approx.)
Council area Highland
Lieutenancy area Sutherland
Constituent country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LAIRG
Postcode district IV27
Dialling code 01971
Police Northern
Fire Highlands and Islands
Ambulance Scottish
European Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross
Scottish Parliament Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross constituency in the Highlands and Islands electoral region
List of places: UKScotland

Coordinates: 58°34'N 4°45'W? / ?58.57, -4.75

Durness with Smoo Cave; the youth hostel is up on the right.
Durness with Smoo Cave; the youth hostel is up on the right.
Sango Bay.
Sango Bay.

Durness (Diuranais in Gaelic) is a remote township in the northwestern Highlands of Scotland, lying on the Kyle of Durness. The main sources of employment in the village are crofting and tourism. It is the largest village in the northwestern corner of Scotland, has a population of around 400, and is on the main A836-A838 road between the towns of Thurso (116 km/72 miles to the east) and Ullapool (109 km/68 miles to the south). This area is notable for being the most sparsely populated region in Western Europe.

There is also a surprising diversity in the area with many different nationalities, sexual orientations and races in a rather remote area. Although being a former seat of the Clan Mackay, there is a large contingent of the Clan Morrison in the area which causes some in the locale to question the idea of calling the area “Mackay Country”.

Contents

[edit] Geography / Geology

The landscape of the Durness area is a stark contrast to the surrounding areas due to a down-faulted, isolated wedge of Cambro-Ordovician carbonates known as the Durness Group, also erroneously known as the ‘Durness Limestone’. These carbonates are also found in Assynt and extend as far south as Skye although the full sequence can only be seen in the Durness area, hence the name of the unit. This thick sequence (c.800m) of dolostones with subordinate limestones and cherts is softer than the surrounding hills which are formed of more resistant Lewisian Gneiss / Torridonian sandstones, sometimes capped by Cambrian Quartzite. Therefore the local area is generally flatter, low lying and more fertile than other areas in the North West Highlands due to the lime-rich bedrock and resultant soils.

An unusually wide variety of other rock types for such a small area can be found around the village due to extensive faulting in the area placing different rocks of different ages side by side, Faraid Head and Sango Bay being good, accessible examples. The Moine Thrust itself can also be seen at both these localities despite the main thrust area being found several kilometers east at Loch Eriboll. As a result of the forementioned, Durness is also a popular destination for undergraduate geology students as well as tourists, mainly during the summer months.

[edit] Attractions / Tourism

The main attractions in Durness are Smoo Cave, a sea cave with a small river running through it and a waterfall in wet weather, unspoilt beaches backed by cliffs, and the surrounding sea birds, seals, porpoises and minke whales. The surrounding coastline is some of Europe's most isolated and spectacular, with the nearby Clo Mor Cliffs being the highest on the British mainland, at some 281m/921ft high.

Tourists are catered for by a campsite spectacularly sited on the cliffs above the beach (with easy access down to the beach), a youth hostel, bed & breakfast accommodation, and a hotel.

In the substantial sand dunes to the north of the village, a large colony of puffins can be approached to within less than 10 metres, offering superb opportunity for wildlife photography.

Another tourist spot is the local Craft Village, a rather picturesque old RAF radar base from the Cold War era. The villagers mainly live sustainably and there is a community ethos, with some rather wonderful and eccentric characters selling arts and crafts goods and providing an interesting stop for visitors.

The village is also used as a base by visitors to Cape Wrath.

In 2007 Durness hosted the John Lennon Northern Lights Festival, a celebration of music, poetry, theatre and other cultural activities in celebration of the spirit of John Lennon who enjoyed boyhood summers in the region. The track 'In my Life' from 'Rubber Soul' is said to be based on a poem about Durness which Lennon wrote on a teenage holiday in the area, although most of the original poem's meaning was lost during songwriting with McCartney.

[edit] Military Presence

Some miles to the north west lies a military firing range known as Garvie Range used by RAF, Royal Navy and USAF aircraft. A rocky islet resembling a ship is used for bombing practice. Although explosions can be heard, and seen with binoculars, they are sufficiently far away to avoid disturbing the colonies of sea birds.

A few miles east of Durness lies Loch Eriboll, known for its otters and minke whales. During World War II it was used to station naval troops, and the island in its centre was used as a bombing target as it resembles a battleship. The loch is sometimes used as a safe harbour by large ships during stormy weather.

During World War II, the Royal Air Force built a Chain Home radar station at Sango near Durness. There was also a Chain Home Low radar station at Sango. After the war there was also a ROTOR radar station near Durness part of which is used by the modern military range and the accommodation area is used for various crafts.

[edit] External links


(Source: Wikipedia)
 
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