Stage 8: Helmsdale to Berriedale

View from Ord of Caithness

8.9 miles | 14.4 km

This stage starts in central Helmsdale and goes along near the shore below cliffs before climbing to cliff tops for spectacular views of the Ord of Caithness headland. You’ll cross two ravines and then an old track that runs for over a mile through moorland. Then you’ll cross a steep gorge with rushing Ousdale Burn at the bottom. Then walk past the ruined houses of the clearance village of Badbea and then follow another old track high above the sea before descending through pastures with strange follies into tiny Berriedale.

 Red . The eighth stage of the JOGT is a rough walk. The first 1.5 miles are along a core path on the foreshore: easy going. The next 2 miles to the county boundary involve walking along cliff tops through high summer grass and bracken, while crossing two small burns. The county boundary is marked by a deer fence which you cross at a ladder stile, about 8 feet high. After that, you need to negotiate your way down a steep slope (overgrown in summer) and then cross the large Ousdale Burn, which currently involves getting your feet wet (up to your knees perhaps). After the burn, it’s just a walk through hillside grazing land with perhaps a couple of gates you need to climb over. There is no barbed wire without a stile. The stage is marked north of the county boundary (the Ord of Caithness).

Ousdale burn is typically 18-24 inches deep, but it’s much safer to take your boots off and wade across than it is to try to hop on slippery rocks. Take care in stepping or leaping across other burns. The deer fence crossing is a high ladder stile. Pastures descending into Berriedale often contain cattle; beware bulls and cows with calves.

Stage End Information
Berriedale is on the A9 and is served by the X99 Stagecoach service. Berriedale has a cafe (open every day 10-4) and a jewellery shop but no other services or accommodation, and there are no other accommodation or services between Helmsdale and Dunbeath. For end of stage accommodation, carry on to Dunbeath or take bus back to Helmsdale from Berriedale.

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