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the Degree Confluence Project
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United Kingdom : Scotland

2.7 km (1.7 miles) NW of Backies, Highland, Scotland, UK
Approx. altitude: 123 m (403 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 58°S 176°E

Accuracy: 5 m (16 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain, and the flight locks at Banavie #3: Loch Ness with Urquhart Castle #4: an oilrig in Cromarty Firth #5: the bridge over Dornoch Firth in a heavy rainshower #6: the North Sea seen from close to the confluence, together with the monument of the Duke of Sutherland and Dunrobin Castle #7: walking down to Golspie Burn #8: GPS #9: view to the North #10: view to the West

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  58°N 4°W (visit #4)  

#1: view to the East

(visited by Captain Peter and Werner Furlan)

11-Jun-2004 -- From our last point near Hexham we drove first to Carlisle on June 10th to do some work in an internet cafe, and then we went towards North on the A 74 and entered Scotland at Gretna. Travelling North with every mile the scenery became more and more beautiful. We finally reached Banavie near Fort Williams with its impressive Neptune's Locks, - a series of flight locks marking the Western entrance of the Caledonian Canal and with a view to Ben Nevis, which is Britain's highest mountain, attaining an elevation of 1,343 metres. Close by, at Spean Bridge, we spent overnight in a cosy guest house. The next day, June 11th, we continued travelling towards North, - first along the Caledonian Canal, passing Loch Lochy and the famous Loch Ness. Surprisingly its major attraction did not show up, but the ruins of Urquhart Castle were worth to see as well. Via Inverness at the North Sea we went further North on the A9, passing the bridges over Moray Firth and Cromarty Firth, where we saw for the first time the symbols for Scotland's wealth: Oilrigs. Hardly anywhere else nature and modern technology go so well together and match so harmonically as in Scotland. Rainshowers became frequent now and when passing the bridge over Dornoch Firth we even had to stop for a few minuts in an extremely heavy one.

Finally we arrived at Golspie, and thanks to a very detailed map Gordon Spence had given us a few days ago we knew exactly where to go: Up to the small hamlet of Backies and stop the car on a small parking lot, almost exactly on 4W and only a few hundred meters North of the point. From there the North Sea and the monument mentioned by previous visitors is well visible.

This monument is a statue with the First Duke of Sutherland and has caused a lot of controversy in the recent years. There are plans to topple it due to the doubtful role the Duke of Sutherland had played in his days. In order to make more money he decided to grow more sheep in the Highlands. Subsequently he chased away the local people and burned down their houses. He had forced thousands of Scottish Highlanders into emigration and caused a lot of misery.

Here a few opinions from local people:

  • "... perhaps one of the most evil men there ever was. Like Stalin and Hitler, he destroyed people's homes without cause. The Duke has no honour in Scotland, and he is despised in the Highlands."
  • "... a grotesquely inappropriate monument. He was the representative of forces that destroyed many communitites in the Highalnds."
  • "... we don't agree with what the man did in the past, but his statue is a help today in pulling in tourists."
  • "... like oppressed people the world over, the Highlander holds his silence and carries his grief from generation to gneration. The proposal to replace this hated figure with a more appropriate memorial to those who suffered in the clearances.
  • "... the monument is a hazard to motorists who have their attention distracted from the road when they see it for the first time."
At present their is no Duke of Sutherland, but a Duchess. She resides in the beautiful Dunrobin Castle, the most northerly of Scotland's great houses. It is the largest house in the Highlands, with 189 rooms and is one of Britain's oldest continuously inhabited houses, dating in part from the early 1300s. Well, back to the confluence:

Through sheep, cows, flowers and some ruins we made our way down to Golspie Burn, and it is correct that the confluence is indeed NORTH of the Burn, which makes its crossing unnecessary.

Finally we could make our pictures in the various directions, of which we attach the views to North, East and West.

After this successful visit we continued towards North on the A9 in direction Thurso, in order to get the ferry to the Orkney Islands at Scrabster.


 All pictures
#1: view to the East
#2: Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain, and the flight locks at Banavie
#3: Loch Ness with Urquhart Castle
#4: an oilrig in Cromarty Firth
#5: the bridge over Dornoch Firth in a heavy rainshower
#6: the North Sea seen from close to the confluence, together with the monument of the Duke of Sutherland and Dunrobin Castle
#7: walking down to Golspie Burn
#8: GPS
#9: view to the North
#10: view to the West
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)