Cape Wrath

Cape Wrath

Cape Wrath Am Parbh, (Scottish Gaelic ; known as An Carbh in Lewis) is a cape in Sutherland, Highland, in northern Scotland. It is the most northwesterly point on the island of Great Britain.

The name Cape Wrath, though perhaps apt when taken in context of its remote and forbidding landscape and frequent rough sea, is derived from Old Norsehvarf Vikings (“turning point”). who would often turn their ships for home at Cape Wrath. Cape Wrath is one of only two places prefixed with the name “Cape” in Great Britain, the other being Cape Cornwall in Cornwall.

Cape Wrath was once the home of a series of small crofting communities, although by 1845 the only families remaining on the Parph were those of shepherds. In the 1930s it supported a population of 30 to 40 people, including a small side school at Achiemore which had up to ten pupils in the 1930s but closed in 1947. Building remains at locations such as Kearvaig have been dated to the 18th century. The cape has few archaeological remains which can be dated to earlier than this, although a promontory fort at Eilean nan Coarach to the east of the headland may date to the late prehistoric age.

Much of the area has been used for sheep gazing, a use which continues today, and shielings, shelters built for shepherds, can be found across the cape. The area declined in population in the mid 20th century and is now almost entirely unpopulated, although military and tourism use continues. The Cape Wrath Lighthouse was built in 1828 and the access road from the Kyle of Durness dates from the same period.


Cape Wrath Lighthouse

There is a lighthouse at the cape, built in 1828 by Robert Stevenson, which was manned until 1998, when it was converted to automatic operation by the Northern Lighthouse Board. Overlooking the Cape are the ruins of the Lloyd’s signal station which was used to monitor shipping