Stage 7: Brora to Helmsdale

Brora Beach

Distance | 12.8 miles / 20.8 km     Status |  Green 

The stage starts in Brora with nice easy walking along a path between a golf course and the sea. Then the path is squeezed between the sea and the railway, making for some slightly challenging terrain. Ford a small river, go through a large peaceful caravan park and then continue along the grassy foreshore for several miles. The trail crosses the railway and passes through the lovely village of Portgower and then along old lanes on a hillside on the way into Helmsdale.

The seventh stage of the JOGT includes the minor challenges of a) fording the 3-4 metre wide Loth River (see Loth Burn Alternate below) and b) from June through October there will be tall grass, up to 2 ft high, to push your way through. The stage is marked.

Beware of cows with calves north of the golf course and also north of Kilmote Burn. Be careful fording burns. Please also note that like much of rural Scotland, ticks may be an issue in areas of long vegetation.

Loth Burn Alternate (see orange route on map at the bottom of this page)
This alternate is to be used in case the Loth Burn is swollen and uncrossable. This can happen at a spring high tide or when the burn is in spate after heavy rains. This alternate adds about 1 mile/1.6 km of walking and requires 1 mile/1.6 km of road walking (with a verge).

Northbound: Upon finding the burn impassable, backtrack along the trail (through the fields) about a half mile/700 metres and find the nearest private level crossing of the railway. Cross the railway with caution and continue along a good track, after a few minutes passing through a farmyard. Continue up to the A9, passing through or over several gates along the way. Turn right on the A9 and continue about 1 mile/1.5 km before taking a right on the minor road marked for Crakaig Campsite. Walk down the road, passing under the railway, continue to follow the main track as it curves round and eventually heads for the coast, where it rejoins the main JoGT.

Southbound: Upon finding the burn impassable, backtrack to the campsite and take the nearest track inland and follow it to a tunnel under the railway. Continue up to the A9 on a tarmac road and take a left, following the A9 for about 1 mile/1.5 km, crossing a bridge over the burn. Continue to where a road sign indicates “Glen Loth” to the right, and a small parallel side road forms on the left, and take that side road ahead through a gate and down through a farmyard. Continue on the track, taking a right turning, then the track curves left and down towards a railway level crossing. Cross carefully, and then once through, resume the main JoGT.

Download alternate route gpx here.

Stage End Information
Helmsdale is the last east coast stop on the Inverness-to-Wick rail line until Wick itself. Helmsdale is accessible by car via the A99 and by buses that connect to Wick, John O’Groats, Thurso, and Inverness. Helmsdale is a small town with several hotels and B&Bs, a youth hostel, a few pub/restaurants, and a couple shops. The excellent Navidale House Hotel, a sumptuously maintained old hunting lodge, is just a km north of central Helmsdale along the main road and also accessible from the walking route. There is also B&B accommodation in the lovely old village of Portgower just 3 km before Helmsdale.

More information


Crakaig Caravan and Camping Site
6 miles north of Brora
Crakaig Farm,
Helmsdale KW8 6HP
Tel: 01408 621972
Helmsdale Hostel
Stafford Street,
Helmsdale, Sutherland, KW8 6JR
Tel: 07971 922356
Bannockburn Inn
Stafford Street,
Helmsdale KW8 6JY
Tel: 01431 821461
Belgrave Arms Hotel
Dunrobin St,
Helmsdale KW8 6JX
Tel: 01431 821242
The Bridge
Dunrobin St,
Helmsdale KW8 6JA
Tel: 07770 807548
Main Route

Loth Burn Alternate