Balnakeil Beach & Faraid Head

Beach and Monastery in Sutherland

Balnakeil, a little over a mile north west of the village of Durness, is a magical place. The beach is wide and white and is backed to the east by a huge expanse of tall dunes covered in marram grass. Overlooking the bay are Balnakeil House, at one time seat of the Clan MacKay, and Balnakeil Church, which is thought to be built on the site of an 8th century monastery founded by the Irish monk, Mael Rubha. A magnificent walk takes you north to Faraid Head. Seals and even minke whales can be seen all round the headland and in summer the cliffs are thronged with seabirds. Look out for rare and beautiful flowers such as the Scottish primrose and Grass of Parnassus. The headland is also home to military installations connected with the naval gunnery ranges towards Cape Wrath. As you return to Durness from Balnakeil Bay, keep a look out on your right for the collection of old military buildings that have for many years housed the Balnakeil Craft Village.

Visiting Balnakeil Beach & Faraid Head

Duration: 20 minutes