Lying on the eastern shore of the Kyle of Tongue and north of Ben Loyal and Ben Hope, Tongue is one of the main crofting townships along the north coast and offers stunning scenic views of mountain and coast and centuries of history to discover.
The area was a historic crossroads for Gaels, Picts and Vikings and the area is named after an Old Norse term which refers to a piece of land shaped like a spit or tongue. That tongue of land projecting into the Kyle is the terminal moraine of the Kyle of Tongue glacier, and forms the eastern part of the Kyle of Tongue causeway. The north coast is a great place to spot wildlife from puffins to the Scottish Primrose and from red deer to orca. Talmine Bay is a great place to spot dolphins as they regularly visit the bay.
A rich heritage to discover
From Vikings to Clans, Tongue has been the historic seat of some powerful families. Important sites relating to Clan Mackay such as Castle Varrich (Gaelic: Caisteal Bharraich). overlook the village from its vantage point on the knoll above Kyle of Tongue. The Castle’s age is unknown but it is thought to have been built on the remains of a Norse fort. When Castle Varrich was abandoned Tongue House became the historic seat of the Clan Mackay.
Centuries later, Tongue was embroiled in a key battle the Jacobite’s and the Royal Navy just prior the infamous battle of Culloden in 1746. The Jacobite’s were caught by the Royal Navy trying to bring much needed gold to Scotland to fund their rebellion. It is said that some of this gold is still lying at the bottom of the waters around Tongue!
The story of the Clearances is evident here and the remains of clearance villages can be seen at Scrabster and at Sletell. There is also a memorial to the ‘Bard of the Clearances’ Ewen Robertson to discover close to Scrabster Clearance village.
The Gaelic poet Ewen Robertson (Gaelic: Eòghainn MacDhonnchaidh, 1842–95) lived in Tongue his entire life, and is most famous for his song "Mo mhallachd aig na caoraich mhòr" ("My curses on the Border sheep") mocking, among others, the Duchess of Sutherland and Patrick Sellar, crucial players in clearing families from their land.
Today, Tongue offer travellers the opportunity to delve into local history and culture at many historic sites and enjoy the scenic surroundings home to colourful flora and fauna and wildlife. Visitors can explore local craft and produce, taking time to relax in this ancient landscape.