|Location Map ( geo)|
The old saying states that 'All roads lead to Rome'. However, in the vast empty expanse of Sutherland all roads seem to lead to Lairg. It is a small place, hardly a town, but the crossing point of the A836 and the A839, with the A838 starting just a mile or so to the north, and the A837 half a dozen miles to the south. It is also on the main north line of ScotRail, with a large livestock mart (the sheep sales are famous) and oil depot beside the station, and NCN1 passes through on its way to the north coast.
The village sits on the shore of Little Loch Shin, the portion of the loch which still retains its original level. Half a mile to the west the Loch has been dammed as part of the the most northerly large Hydro scheme in Scotland. Despite its small size, the village offers a good range of services, including shops, hotels and cafes. Many of them rely on the passing tourist trade for a lot of their business, because it is almost inevitable that anyone planning more than a flying visit to the far north will find themselves passing through Lairg on their journey. The village also serves as a commercial and service centre for a vast area of the Highlands. Admittedly, it is a very empty landscape, but even some of the smaller communities on the north and west coast may look to Lairg as their nearest 'town'. Failing that they will pass through on their way to Inverness.
Postal addresses in many rural areas relate to where mail used to be unloaded from trains, and Lairg is the "post town" for a huge area as far as Lochinver, Durness and Tongue. Postbuses used to run to all of these; they no longer exist but there is still a daily (except Sundays) bus from Durness via Kinlochbervie and Scourie.
As far as visitor attractions go, there are surprisingly few in Lairg. The large car parks suggest plenty of visitors, but it is the scenery rather than flashy theme parks that they come for. A few miles south, on the B864, the Falls of Shin visitor centre is has been rebuilt after a fire destroyed it a few years ago. To the north and west it is the landscape and some fantastic roads that the visitors come for.
|Bonar Bridge, Inverness (A9)|
|Rogart, The Mound (A9)|
|Rosehall, Lochinver, Ullapool (A837)|