The Northern Scottish coast, which is sparsely populated and frequently hostile, clings to Europe’s border with a vast tract of untouched beauty.
The low-lying landscape grows increasingly dramatic as you head north from the Moray Firth on Scotland’s east coast, with spectacular cliffs, roaring seas, and rocky offshore isles.
The most northern point on the British Isles is usually disputed. However, Dunnet Head, which lies between Thurso and Wick, the main settlements on the north coast, contests this title.
Both communities are built around tiny ports and rely on fishing for their livelihood, but tourism is becoming more important.
Despite the frequent temperatures below zero, Thurso East, a big reef break known across the world of surfing, has long been a favorite among surfers.
Dunnet Head and Duncansby Head, notable for their stunning offshore stacks, have panoramic vistas of Orkney, where numerous ancient stone circles offer a welcome change of pace from more popular and well-known destinations such as Stonhenge.
The most north-westerly point in Britain, accessible by boat and minibus from Keoldale, is Faraid Head, which has excellent views of stormy Cape Wrath.
Off the coast of Gairloch, one of a handful of tiny villages on the north western coast, the only real town is Ullapool.
The smaller islands of the Outer Hebrides are accessible by boat, as well as North Uist and South Uist.
The Inner and Outer Hebrides are a chain of inhabited and uninhabited islands with a distinct coastal culture and environment all its own.