Caithness Summer Evenings

By September in the north of Scotland, it’s really noticeable how much earlier darkness is gathering. The sun is already down several hours earlier than in late June when, although the sun does go down behind the horizon, it doesn’t get completely dark. Time to re-visit some of the long summer evenings which provided some lovely sunsets.

Late in May there were fires on the moors around Melvich in Sutherland. The smoke from these drifted all around the north coast as the winds blew in one direction and then another. The smoke particles may well have aided the intensity of the sunset on this gorgeous evening, viewed from above St John’s Point at East Mey.

Photo of late May sunset over the Pentland Firth.
Late May sunset over the Pentland Firth. Earlier during the week fires on the moors near Melvich in Sutherland had burned for days and smoke drifted all round the north coast; possibly contributing to the spectacular light.

Late on a Friday night in June I was driving home past Dunnet Beach; a fantastic 3 kilometre long sweep of beach and dunes between the villages of Castletown and Dunnet. As the sun went down a stunning light developed and it was crying out not to be missed. Teenage kids decided to stay in the car playing with their phones rather than enjoy this…

Photo of sunset reflections on the wet surface of Dunnet Beach.
Sunset reflections on the wet surface of Dunnet Beach. Shot with a 1 second exposure to blur the gentle waves breaking on the beach with the village of Dunnet behind
Photo of stunning late evening light over Dunnet Bay in June. Holborn Head near Thurso to the left, Dwarwick Head a promontory on Dunnet Head, on the right
Stunning late evening light over Dunnet Bay in June. Holborn Head near Thurso to the left, Dwarwick Head, a promontory on Dunnet Head, on the right

St John’s Point at Mey is a favourite spot of mine and I was back there again late in June to shoot the beautiful sunset. The Orkney island of Hoy was largely obscured by mist hugging its hilly interior, just the cliffs visible. This is common as air from the Atlantic Ocean meets its westerly cliffs, rising and cooling quickly.

Although there is a path down to St John’s Point from the road I have rarely seen anyone else there. This evening was spent in quiet solitude with the sun, sea, birds and camera.

Photo of sunset over the Pentland Firth from St John's Point near Mey. Interesting cloud formations and a distant flyby from an obliging sea gull
Just another sunset over the Pentland Firth from St John’s Point near Mey. Interesting cloud formations and a distant flyby from an obliging sea gull
Photo of a long exposure view across the Pentland Firth to Hoy shrouded in mist. Taken with long exposure from some very slippery seaweed covered rocks!
A long exposure view across the Pentland Firth to Hoy shrouded in mist. Taken with long exposure from some very slippery seaweed covered rocks!

Scarfskerry is a small village on the Pentland Firth coast between Dunnet Head and John o’ Groats. There are several small harbours hereabouts (Ham and Harrow are within a couple of kilometres to west and east respectively) and each is scenic. Late in the evening I noticed the light changing as the sun, about to set, descended below a storm cloud, highlighting the rain and the undersides of the clouds and reflecting off the unusually peaceful sea.

Photo of a storm passing over the Pentland Firth late on a June evening; from the scenic Scarfskerry Harbour
A storm passing over the Pentland Firth late on a June evening; from the scenic Scarfskerry Harbour. The British mainland’s most northerly point Dunnet Head is to the left.
Photo of the jetty at the tiny Scarfskerry Harbour on the Caithness coast of the Pentland Firth
The jetty at the tiny Scarfskerry Harbour on the Caithness coast of the Pentland Firth

See the map below for the locations of these photos. There are more photos below the map. All photos can be viewed as a slideshow by clicking on one of the images below.


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