Seal pup alert on Brora beach

Route: John o'Groats Trail: Golspie to Brora

Date walked: 15/05/2024

Distance: 10km

It's not my normal practice to write up walks the day after I did them but this one is different. It's a long shot but not impossible that someone reads it who lives near Brora and knows if anything can be done to help a seal pup which appeared to have been abandoned on the beach south of Brora, just north of the Sputie Burn waterfall. The chances are it's already too late but I'd feel bad not putting the word out there, just in case.

Moira and I were walking the John o' Groats Trail from Golspie to Brora and it suited us better to do it north to south. We drove to Golspie and parked beside the Coffee Bothy where there are also public toilets (very useful). We were most restrained and didn't stop for coffee but walked straight up the main street to the bus stop by the Bank of Scotland where we waited 25 minutes for the bus to Brora. But as Moira said you never know what hold ups there might have been on the A9 if we'd left later.

Coffee Bothy, Golspie

Beautiful old houses, Golspie

Golspie main street (A9)

I hadn't taken my dog as dogs are only accepted on buses at the driver's discretion which means I didn't know for certain she'd have been allowed on. Judging from the very pleasant driver and the bus being almost empty I don't think there would have been a problem. We got off at the stop just after crossing the bridge and walked back the short distance.

Brora bridge

River Brora

John o' Groats Trail

Take the path down to the left

Old ice house


Unlike Golspie, Brora was holding on to a sea haar longer than the Met Office had indicated but it cleared as we walked south.

Good use of old boat

Brora houses facing the sea

The first part of the trail was by the beach which suited us as it was easy walking and very quickly the grey sky changed to blue.



Looking back to Brora

Looking ahead to Golspie

It was here we saw a seal pup lying next to a rock. At first I thought it must be dead but then saw it was breathing. There was no sign of any other seals and the tide was a long way out. It was sad to see it's right eye bleeding from pecking birds.. As with newborn lambs, crows and gulls always go for the eyes first. Apart from that it didn't look in too bad shape, pretty well nourished and moving slightly as we watched. Part of me wanted to carry it down to the water's edge so it's mother would get back to it more quickly than it would take for the tide to come in. But the advice is to leave seal pups where they are as that's the best hope of the mother finding them and any strange smell (ie smell of me) could risk her abandoning it. So we had to walk away and leave it there, well aware the birds would be back to have another go at it. I'll be honest it was hard leaving it but didn't know what else we could do.

Lone seal pup


Sputie burn waterfall


Sat on this bleached tree trunk for a while

As the beach became more rocky the walking was easier on the grass alongside a fence.

On this side

Now on this side

Why would there be a shed full of very large tyres here?

Shed full of tractor tyres

The next point of interest was the 2000 year old broch reached by a short detour up a track, over a stile and through a pedestrian gate. It's remarkably well preserved, the best I've seen by far.

Dun Liath Broch


View north from outer wall of broch

Broch interior


Castle turrets ahead

The trail led into woodland below the castle

A carpet of bluebells

Dunrobin Castle, ancestral home of the Dukes of Sutherland

With 189 rooms, parts of the castle date back to the 1300s, but most of it was built in Victorian times by Charles Barry, who also designed the Houses of Parliament. It's a magnificent castle but there is some sensitivity about it being here due to a previous Duke of Sutherland's part in the notorious Highland clearances.




Ben Bhraggie topped by Duke of Sutherland memorial ahead

Footbridge over Golspie Burn

Attractive houses which we didn't pass as that way led to the A9

Instead we followed the path off to the left beside the burn.

Where Golspie Burn reaches the North Sea

The last part (or first - depending on which way round you do it) of this section of the JGT is along the coastal path towards the sea-facing houses of Golspie backed by Ben Bhraggie.


Click to mark this as a great report. Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Comments: 17

Great views, great weather and a fabulous ending

Attachment(s) Sub 2000s: An Cabar
Date walked: 11/05/2024
Distance: 20km
Comments: 2
Views: 425

Too many large cairns for one small queen?

Attachment(s) Fionas: Mona Gowan
Date walked: 03/05/2024
Distance: 12km
Views: 362

Walked into police incident on a beautiful Cairngorm morning

Attachment(s) Corbetts: Geal-charn Mòr
Date walked: 27/04/2024
Distance: 10km
Comments: 4
Views: 990

Reindeer surprise

Attachment(s) Fionas: Càrn a'Ghille Chearr
Date walked: 30/03/2024
Distance: 11.8km
Comments: 14
Views: 1330

Multiple bridges, blocked path and flooding

Attachment(s) Date walked: 22/03/2024
Distance: 4.5km
Comments: 4
Views: 475

To beaver or not to beaver - that is the question

Attachment(s) Date walked: 20/03/2024
Distance: 9.5km
Comments: 3
Views: 600

It's a dog's life on Mount Blair

Attachment(s) Fionas: Mount Blair
Date walked: 18/03/2024
Distance: 4.5km
Comments: 2
Views: 805

Gremlins at work.... or was it the Green Lady?

Attachment(s) Date walked: 18/03/2024
Distance: 6km
Views: 520

Storm changed our plans but it was so worth it

Attachment(s) Date walked: 29/02/2024
Distance: 3.5km
Comments: 1
Views: 625


User avatar

Munros: 242
Corbetts: 74
Fionas: 27
Wainwrights: 9
Hewitts: 4
Sub 2000: 33
Islands: 24
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way    Dava Way    Great Glen Way    Moray Coastal Trail    Speyside Way    South Loch Ness Trail    Loch Ness 360   

Filter reports



Trips: 16
Distance: 128.8 km
Corbetts: 1
Fionas: 3
Sub2000s: 2


Trips: 34
Distance: 361 km
Munros: 4
Corbetts: 3
Fionas: 6
Sub2000s: 2


Trips: 23
Distance: 257.1 km
Munros: 3
Corbetts: 7
Sub2000s: 2


Trips: 26
Distance: 366.3 km
Munros: 7
Corbetts: 8
Fionas: 1
Sub2000s: 3


Trips: 31
Distance: 446.75 km
Munros: 6
Corbetts: 5
Fionas: 2
Sub2000s: 1


Trips: 25
Distance: 384.45 km
Munros: 10
Corbetts: 2
Fionas: 1
Sub2000s: 2


Trips: 33
Distance: 466.5 km
Munros: 9
Corbetts: 1
Sub2000s: 2


Trips: 26
Distance: 257.25 km
Munros: 6
Corbetts: 10
Fionas: 4
Sub2000s: 1
Hewitts: 2
Wainwrights 2


Trips: 43
Distance: 366 km
Ascent: 2974m
Munros: 12
Corbetts: 11
Fionas: 3
Sub2000s: 7


Trips: 34
Distance: 255.5 km
Munros: 6
Corbetts: 14
Fionas: 2


Trips: 25
Distance: 176.75 km
Munros: 15
Corbetts: 3
Fionas: 1
Sub2000s: 3
Wainwrights 2


Trips: 17
Distance: 24 km
Munros: 11
Corbetts: 3


Trips: 21
Distance: 194 km
Ascent: 4594m
Munros: 13
Corbetts: 4
Fionas: 1


Trips: 16
Distance: 182 km
Ascent: 1385m
Munros: 22
Corbetts: 1
Fionas: 1


Trips: 11
Distance: 114.5 km
Ascent: 1025m
Munros: 19


Trips: 8
Distance: 89 km
Munros: 12


Trips: 7
Munros: 11


Trips: 2
Munros: 3


Trips: 2
Distance: 18 km
Munros: 4


Trips: 2
Distance: 17 km
Munros: 2


Trips: 1
Munros: 4


Trips: 1
Munros: 1

Joined: Jul 16, 2011
Last visited: Jun 24, 2024
Total posts: 4287 | Search posts