Discover Sutherland - Your Local Guide

One of the main villages on the north coast of Sutherland, Tongue lies on the eastern side of the Kyle of Tongue, a large sea inlet which extends from Tongue Bay inland for about six miles. The village is an important junction where the road from the south (from Altnaharra and Lairg) meets the north coast road that runs from Durness to Melvich and on to Caithness. This road crosses the Kyle of Tongue by means of a long, sweeping causeway & bridge that was built in 1971. Before then, travellers either had to take the passenger ferry that crossed the Kyle, although this ceased to run in 1956, or drive the 10 miles along the narrow road that runs round the head of the Kyle.

People have lived in this area for thousands of years and there are various Bronze and Iron Age sites nearby. The Norse settled in the area over 1000 years ago; indeed the name Tongue derives from the Old Norse word Tunga, meaning 'a tongue of land'. Castle Varrich, whose ruins stand on a hill opposite the village, may have originally been built as a stronghold by the Norse, although by mediaeval times it had become the seat of the Chiefs of the Clan Mackay. In 1678 the Mackay Chiefs built a mansion, the House of Tongue, to the north of the village.

In 1746, shortly before the Battle of Culloden, the French sailing ship 'Hazard' ran aground in Tongue Bay, just offshore from Melness. The Jacobite soldiers and French sailors made it to shore, but the local Mackay militia, which was loyal to the Government, caught up with them at Lochan Hakel at the head of the Kyle of Tongue. After a brief skirmish, the Jacobites were captured and a huge sum of gold coins seized.

Tongue today is a quiet little village. It has a couple of small shops and a Post Office as well as a bank and a petrol station. There is a wide range of accommodation including two hotels, guest houses, bed & breakfasts and self catering accommodation. There is also a Youth Hostel in the village. The area surrounding Tongue is ideal for hillwalkers and climbers. Ben Hope - Scotland's most northerly Munro - lies to the south west of the Kyle while Ben Loyal towers over the village from the south.

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About Tongue

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