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Tractor run to Cape Wrath as farmers have a blast through MOD range!

By Mike Merritt

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The tractors line up at the lighthouse.
The tractors line up at the lighthouse.

It really was the light at the end of the road for seven farmers with seven rides.

They ferried their tractors across a narrow sea inlet to then drive up to some of the highest sea cliffs on mainland Britain – and through a bombing range!

Climbing hundreds of feet, the intrepid farmers negotiated some of the most spectacular and remotest wilderness in the country.

Cape Wrath in Sutherland was also being used for bombing by the RAF at the time so the farmers had to restrict some of their movements at certain periods.

It was part of an annual jaunt by the group from Perthshire, and this time they chose Cape Wrath.

Their vehicles had crossed the Kyle of Durness on a barge run by Britain's smallest licensed ferry operator.

The vintage tractors reach their destination at the end of the 11-mile road.
The vintage tractors reach their destination at the end of the 11-mile road.

They then faced the added obstacle of numerous deep potholes on the 11-mile road up to the Cape Wrath lighthouse.

At the lighthouse they stayed with the cape's only permanent residents John Ure and his daughter Angela – who run the country's remotest cafe and bunkhouse.

They also spent a night in the Kearvaig Bothy on the cape.

"It was quite some sight and they made it all the way up," said Mr Ure.

"They had their tractors brought up to Durness by low loader and then ferried across by the barge. They were top guys. The range was shut for two-and-a-half hours for the RAF to do some bombing, but that didn't seem to phase them. There were a couple of particularly big explosions too.

"They apparently do something like this every year and have even been to Austria."

Mr Ure said fewer visitors have managed this summer to make it to where he lives – more than 300 feet above the sea.

"I've been here for 14 years so I know what self isolation is like. I love it here. For me it is splendid isolation. I have cats and I love the beauty and the wildlife. I barely saw a dozen people all winter," said Mr Ure.

Resident John Ure at Cape Wrath.
Resident John Ure at Cape Wrath.

The rooms with a view at Cape Wrath – the most north-westerly point on mainland UK – have been constructed by converting the old machine room near the lighthouse into a bunkhouse capable of taking six people.

They partially opened in March last year and early guests included a couple on honeymoon who happily shared with a full dormitory!

Vegans and vegetarians are especially catered for by Angela's home cooking.

Those who may feel tempted to ring friends or check emails or texts face a seven-mile walk to the nearest faint signal – and in a place famed for its 100mph winds – or 11 miles to get a fuller connection.

But anybody glued to their mobile screen out on a walk at Cape Wrath faces the added obstacle of the 921-feet highest vertical cliffs on mainland Britain – which are four miles from the bunkhouse.

Mr Ure already ran the remotest cafe in the country right next to the lighthouse and usually serves around 6000 people a year – concentrated in the main season – when the area is not being used as a bombing range by the MoD!

Cape Wrath lighthouse.
Cape Wrath lighthouse.

But getting to the Sutherland lighthouse is not easy.

Other than the bumpy road, the only other route is an 11-mile walk from near Kinlochbervie over rough, unmarked, but stunning, terrain.

There was once a full-time community of around 35 people living on the cape in the 1930s. Today it is just Mr Ure and Angela.

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