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Islands a-Hoy at Holborn Head

Islands a-Hoy at Holborn Head

Postby denfinella » Wed Oct 02, 2013 10:46 pm

Route description: Holborn Head, Scrabster

Date walked: 11/08/2013

Time taken: 2 hours

Distance: 8 km

Ascent: 120m

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Our first day in the far northeast and we drove straight up to the north coast, Scrabster harbour and a goal of seeing the Orkney Islands (from afar) for the first time. The MWIS outlook for the NW Highlands was for heavy, frequent showers with hail and lightning, but we figured they might be fewer further to the east. Indeed, this seemed to be the case as we parked up in a sunny Scrabster and headed along the narrow road overlooking the port area and car parks. The sight of so much industry in a confined space - almost like a Dover in miniature - seemed strange after an hour's drive across open, wild land.


Up around the lighthouse and into open country almost at the click of a finger. Sheep still seem to outnumber ships in Scrabster. And already great views out towards an island - which I've captioned Hoy on my laptop, but now I think it might just be Dunnet Head...

Dunnet Head?

We followed the grassy path - squelchy in places - as it traversed the slope towards Holborn Head. The stiff breeze felt lovely and fresh, as it always does upon stepping out of a car after a longish drive.


Soon we reached the headland. The views from here were superb - out to the Orkney Islands, across to Dunnet Head, and towards the Pentland Firth. A ferry plied its way across the foreground.



The immediate surroundings were interesting too, thanks to the unusual rock bands which looked a little like place mats stacked on top of one another.

Think this one's Hoy...

Up on the edge of them they seemed a little less innocent...


...especially when you realise they're full of gaping holes (this one went all the way down to crashing waves in a blowhole below).


Carefully avoiding getting too close, we continued west around the coastline, trying not to scare sheep into plunging off the random cliffs.


This sea stack must be even more impressive during seabird season:



Away from the drama of the waves and water, all was calm:


The photo below shows the general terrain, looking back towards Holborn Head. It's really a very impressive location - the cliffs really are huge, making you shiver slightly when you peer over the edge (from a safe distance...). There's something about sea cliffs that I find more unsettling than mountain ones - perhaps the fact that they're constantly being eroded at the base by waves...


Looking ahead from Spear Head, the high cliffs are suddenly replaced by lowland as you go west. We weren't heading that far today.


Our final point of interest on the coast was Heron Craig, with another perilous drop into a cavernous cauldron of foaming water. Around the back you can choose either to take the uneventful inland route, or a path which goes worryingly close to the edge of the cliff in order to get round the end of a fence.


Heading inland, we passed a few gates, sheep and lochans on the straight track back to Scrabster - much shorter than the outward journey. The track eventually became a tarmac road, passed a few houses, and led to a great view down to Scrabster Harbour at a right hand bend.


From here, a flight of stairs can be used as a shortcut back down to the dockside. My usual exploration ground of Aberdeenshire and Angus has many coastal gems of its own, but Holborn Head definitely stands its ground next to these. Even better, the day stayed dry for us even as we had a poke around sleepy Thurso and Thurso Castle (shouldn't have gone on a Sunday).






Previous day:
Big Burn, Golspie: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=36769
Next day: Stacks of Duncasby: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=37541
Last edited by denfinella on Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Islands a-Hoy at Holborn Head

Postby Sarah86 » Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:12 pm

Lovely seascape photos
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