The beautiful Brora seaside and surrounding countryside features every imaginable habitat, so a wide variety of our fellow inhabitants can be seen in the wild, as nature intended.
Otters; On the River Brora seen anywhere between harbour mouth and loch.
Seals; see often in the Dornoch Firth, but the best views are on Brora beach where they relax in their inimitable way regularly. Moray Firth bottlenose dolphins can also be seen making their way along the coast, often very close to the beach in small groups.
Wildcats; In local woods and in the hills, if you are lucky!
Other Mammals; Hedgehog, moles, shrews, voles, house and wood mice, fox, stoat, weasel, rabbit are all common. Brown hares are found on farmland and mountain hare on heather moorland. Long eared bats in sheltered areas and Goats are often to be seen on the Morvich Rock near Rogart.
Loch Brora has Goldeneye and other ducks, Curlew, Redshank, Oystercatcher and Lapwing. Buzzards are likely, and with luck Golden Eagles may be seen in winter.
A few miles South at Loch Fleet, off the A9 between Dornoch and Golspie, forms part of a well known nature reserve with a wealth of seaducks and waders. Here one may hope to see Osprey fishing.
Ospreys arrive in spring and their numbers are increasing so much so that the Forestry Commission has recently assisted the local Council Ranger to erect a substantial high platform which is intended to attract nesting – we await a visit.
The area also has a wide variety of Gulls & Cormorants.
Loch Fleet is also home to a large herd of Seals. Most days you are pretty much gauranteed to see these lovley mamals dipping in and out of the water from the sandbanks and if you get the right tide level you can see them quite closeup from the roadside.
These terns spend winter in the Antartic and arrive in summer at Brora beach.
Known as Sea Swallows.
The Arctic Tern has become the emblem of Brora Golf as this lovely Links Course runs alongside the beach showing that golf and rare and exotic natural visitors can be complimentary and mutually beneficial!
Blue Highlands Raptor Conservation Centre Brora
There is a chance to see rare birds of prey close up here. The Blue Highlands team’s work is focused upon Rehabilitation, Rescue, Research, and Wild Release but they do demonstrations and talks regularly. The centre is in Golf Road – 1/2 way from A9 to the Golf Club on the LHS.
Shopping, Gifts and Retail
Brora has several unique retail opportunities and in addition to the Supermarket and General Stores you can buy local manufactured goods, crafts, art and other non essential but wonderfully diverse items.
Brora has a proud history of producing fine yarns and tweeds and at Kingcraig Fabrics in the centre of the village (just next to the Sutherland Hotel) you can purchase Knitting Yarn, Weaving Yarn plus Kingcraig’s own specially manufactured items such as tweed, throws, travel rugs and cashmere scarves.
The village has easy access to many opportunities for ‘retail therapy’. Across from the Sutherland Arms in the centre of the Village there is Kelpie’s Treasure which provides beautiful, unique and bespoke gifts handmade locally and throughout the Highlands.
Also in the village, a short stroll up from the railway station is a unique new shop called The Witches Kist It really is a treasure trove where you can spend time browsing the wide range of items including antiques and gifts.
ARTS, CRAFTS AND LOCAL PRODUCE
There is a local craft shop called the Otter’s Couch which specialises in interesting art and souvenier items from Brora just next to the Co-op.
Brora and immediate surrounding area inspires many artists and many have settled here,
Artist – Telephone 01408…..
Hazel Reed – 622236 Textiles based on land and seascape observation
Joan Baxter – 621761 Woven tapestry inspired by landscape and history
Norman Gibson – 621186 Sculpture & design ‘time, change & visual memory’
Cyril Reed – 622236 Paintings on land and seascapes
Victor Rose – 621244 Watercolour, oil acrylic paintings & pottery
Linda Parker – 621411 Very colourful acrylic paintings, often abstract
Lonie Mackintosh – 621775 Wood Turning/crooks
On the produce side – Bees Honey can be purchased directly from bees (almost – call John on 07751 145022) and also Capaldi’s Ice cream (Harry Gows in village).
Malt Whisky & Gin
One of the town’s many attractions that is well worth visiting is the Clynelish Distillery can be found a few 100m west of the A9 as it heads north out of the village. It is open all year Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm, with Saturdays 10am-5pm from June to September. Clynelish Tel: +44 (0) 1408 623000
The ‘Brora’ malt label is famous and will be returned with the new developments planned.
Famous Whiskys are all around and distilleries will give tours – to the South we have the famous Glenmorangie and to the North in Wick we have Old Pultney. There are many micro distilleries including a new Thompson Bros Gin Distillery in Dornoch.
With all these distillery attractions featuring the national drink in Brora and to the North and South why not stay in the village for a few days on you tour and sample them all – SLANGE!
Brora is located in a beautiful coastal part of Sutherland benefitting from the mild climate of the Moray Firth where many activities are supported including Golf, Fishing, Hunting, Riding, Walking, Cycling and just taking in the scenery as a tourist!
Golf Golf Golf! Brora is the ideal base for a golfing break. Brora Golf Course (A highly rated links) was designed by James Braid, where little has changed since he left in 1923, it is still challenging to all standards but is it is relatively easy for a visitor to get a tee-off time and the club atmosphere is relaxed. Another lovely links course is 10 mins south on the A9 at Golspie and famous Royal Dornoch, formed in 1877, is only 20 mins away by car further down the road towards Inverness.
Brora Golf Course Tel: +44 (0) 1408 621417
Brora is a real golfer’s village. In the past the locals used maintain a pitch and putt as a hobby on a voluntary basis – locally known affectionately as ‘Gleneagles!’ . Golf is played by all ages from the youngest school kids to the older residents many who go to make up the ‘Brora Old Boys’ or BOBs.
Check out the Brora Golf – www.broragolf.co.uk : Golf Week is towards the end of May and is a lot of fun for all levels of ability.
Royal Dornoch GC www.royaldornoch.com
Golspie GC www.golspie-golf-club.co.uk
Star Stables are in Brora tel 01408 621164 mobile 07759335918. Long established Highlands Unbridled, run by Graham & Jan O’Neill has moved a few miles south to Tain now on 01862 735007. Day trips can be attended, including wildlife watching country treks with picnics & BBQs & even coast to coast expeditions taking several days.
There is a new stables for 2020 with riding for all standards near Dornoch – Achavandra Stables
SURFING & SWIMMING
Whenever surfs up, whatever the time of day or year there is a very good chance of seeing a group of enthusiasts out on the waves near the harbour entrance. When particularly high, the waves actually prevent the smaller fishing boats from leaving the harbour but do make great surf for sport.
Sutherland Swimming Pool Complex Highland Council Back Road, Golspie, KW10 6RA Telephone 01408 633 437
HUNTING AND FISHING
The whole range of angling is available at Brora from Sea Angling, loch fishing to Salmon and Sea Trout Fishing. Other sports are also available although the author here prefers to shoot with the camera! Further fishing, shooting or stalking information in Sutherland can be gained from agents Galbraiths.
Brora Loch Fishing Permits are available from old Cunningham’s Newsagents, this is also the Tourist Information point in the centre of village. Salmon and Trout Fishing is of the most sought after in both the Brora and Helmsdale, permits from Sutherland Estates 01431 821372.
WALKING and OUTDOOR PURSUITS
The best beach with safe swimming is the mile or so along from the north of the Brora River where kite flying seems to be popular and an army of locals regularly walk this stunning scene. The river inland, Loch Brora and surrounding hills are great walking, cycling and, most impressively nature spotting territory – see following sections. Local Mountain Biking is run by Highland Wildcats in nearby Golspie features the longest descent in the UK from the summit of Ben Bhraggie (1300′ to sea-level) – and the longest technical singletrack climb.
Brora Rangers play in the Highland League during the season commencing August – [web site] for further information – come over and cheer the boys!
BOWLING AND TENNIS CLUB
Golf Road 01408 621807
A visit to Brora must include the Castle 5 miles south of the village. The historic seat of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland hosts many activities including an impressive Falconry display 01408 633177 – [Go To Website]
BRORA POTTED HISTORY
Crofting and Coal
The history of the parish of Clyne is dominated by its long industrial past starting in the 1500s with coal mining & salt panning, through in later years to tweed production, distilling, electricity generation etc. The early industries were established by the House of Sutherland and by the late nineteenth century Brora became known as the Industrial Capital of the North. Crofting and fishing also played a major part in Clyne’s working past.
In common with other Highland parishes, the history began in the Mesolithic of the Stone Age after the recession of the ice sheet which covered the country during the last ice age (for a concise overview of archaeological periods in the Highlands see the Am Baile website). There is no evidence yet discovered of these early nomads in Clyne, unlike neighbouring areas.
Evidence for Neolithic settlers, dating to around 5000 years ago is sparse, but a good example of one of their burial chambered cairns is found on the shore of Loch Brora.
A day trip to Orkney is easy to organise from Brora as a base where evidence of the very earliest civilisations on the planet can be witnessed. Stone circles and dwellings can be visited. There are 3 ferrys within an hour and half ‘s drive.
In contrast, Bronze and Iron Age people have left their marks all over the parish. Their characteristic roundhouses (hut circles) are dotted around the landscape and many more remain to be discovered. These early farmers have also left their mark on the hillsides, close to their roundhouses, in the form of cairns of stones which they have cleared from their agricultural grounds.
There are 7 brochs in the parish dating from around 600BC to 100AD, which are uniquely found in the Highlands and Islands, but are concentrated in Caithness and East Sutherland. These familiar stone-built towers are somewhat enigmatic structures, as experts are still undecided as to their purpose – defensive or pure status!
There are few remains about the little known intervening years to the Post-Medieval/Pre-Clearance settlements, which are also found scattered about the landscape. There are over 100 of these ‘townships’ which litter the now barren and uninhabited areas of the parish – a direct result of the notorious Highland Clearances, which began in Clyne in around 1809.
Making way for sheep
The Clearances form a dark chapter in the history of the parish, and of the wider Highlands, when the tenants of the townships were forcibly removed and the land was converted to great sheep farms or walks, which were deemed to be more profitable for the landowners, in this case the wealthy House of Sutherland.
Most of the former inhabitants of the townships were re-settled in new coastal villages on small lots of land, which were not large enough to sustain the families. This was so that they would be encouraged to take up fishing as a main occupation and, in particular in Brora, or another job in one of the many industrial adventures set up by the Sutherland family at that time. Others emigrated, never to return.
The industries revolved around the geological fortitude of Jurassic coal being found and exploited on the coast at Brora, as early as 1529. The Sutherland estate invested in a deep coal mine and used this rich source of fuel to power related industrial enterprises such as brick and tile works, salt-pans and a distillery. These industries, with the exception of the still-thriving distillery, soon faded as the duty on salt was abolished in the early 1820s and it was no longer economic to mine coal.
The Electric City
These industries were revived by the third Duke of Sutherland in the 1870s and the coal mine only closed down for good in 1974. Hunter’s Woollen Mill, famous all over the world for its tweed, operated in the village from the turn of the last century until 2004 when it too closed its doors for ever. Thomas Hunter eventually owned the coal mine and brickworks, as well the mill which he powered by electricity generated on site. He sold his surplus electricity to those who could afford it as early as 1913, when he set up the Brora Electricity Supply Company to use his surplus power. The village street lights were also powered by this source and soon the village acquired the name ‘the Electric City’, fully 35 years before the arrival of mains electricity after the war.
History courtesy of Brora Heritage Centre
[go to website]
Coal Pit Road, BRORA, Sutherland, KW9 6LE,
Telephone non UK: +44 1408 622024
PLACES of WORSHIP
FREE CHURCH of SCOTLAND
Gower Street, Brora,
Sutherland KW9 6PUTelephone: 01408 621271
CHURCH OF SCOTLAND
Clyne Manse40 Golf RoadBroraKW9 6
Tel: 01408 621239Fax: 01408 621239
School Hill, off Gower Street,
Brora, Sutherland KW9 6PU.
Parish priest: Father Benedict Seed (1956), The Bungalow, School Hill, off Gower Street, Brora KW9 6PU. Phone: 01408 621388. His mobile number is 07926 169910. In 2006, he celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest. Deacon: Kenneth Bromage, 21 Gate Street, Embo, Dornoch IV25 3PS, phone 01862 810900, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FREE CHURCH CONTINUING
12.00noon and 6.30pm
2 Col Bheinn Road,
Tel: 01408 621459 (or 0844 414 0040);
SCOTTISH EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Brora. St. Columba.
Sunday Services at 9:45 am and 11:30 am.
Prefabricated Corrugated iron near station.
WIND POWER AND OTHER RENEWABLES
The Brora area generates a significant proportion of its energy from sustainable sources. Two large wind farms are located inland from the village and there are pockets of small-scale domestic microgeneration developing throughout the area.