Talmine Bay is a picturesque coastal area located in the northern part of Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands. This serene bay lies on the eastern side of the Kyle of Tongue, a shallow sea loch, and is near the village of Talmine, from which it gets its name.
The bay is characterised by its beautiful sandy beaches, clear waters, and tranquil setting, making it an ideal spot for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. The scenery around Talmine Bay is typical of the Scottish Highlands, with rugged landscapes, rolling hills, and a variety of wildlife both on land and in the surrounding waters.
Sutherland, the historic county that borders the Moray Firth to the east and the Atlantic to the west, has one of, if not the most dramatic coastlines in Britain, where north Scotland’s mountains meet the sea in a series of dramatic cliffs overlooking countless secluded bays and pristine beaches.
It was during my last visit to Sutherland and while exploring the Kyle of Tongue that I took a minor diversion down a single-track road just a few hundred yards north of the A838 bridge, where I stumbled upon the lovely village of Talmine.
Talmine was originally a crofting and fishing village, but it now seems to draw most of its income from the north coast’s rapidly-growing tourism industry (specifically, the North Coast 500) which is why you’ll find campsites and holiday cottages dotted all over the area.
The east-facing beach at Talmine is worth making the journey for on its own, as it looks like something you’d expect to see on a postcard. Crystal-clear water laps wee islands in the near distance, and the hills of Brae Tongue rise up against the sky on the opposite side of the water. It really is a very scenic place.
Look out to sea, and you’re faced with a series of small, low-lying islands that have a couple of rather inviting white beaches, while rocky outcrops dot the sea towards the north. Talmine is an ideal out-of-the-way location if you’re in the area and looking for a peaceful walk, and it can easily be combined with a trip to Tongue and Castle Varrich.
1: The area around Talmine is full of wildlife. The bay and its surrounding landscapes offer opportunities to spot a variety of birds, including seabirds and the occasional golden eagle. The clear waters are also home to marine animals such as seals, and if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of dolphins or whales further out to sea.
2: Talmine is a village that boasts incredible coastal views, with its picturesque bay overlooking the Kyle of Tongue. Visitors can enjoy the sweeping panoramas of the sea loch, with the Rabbit Islands just offshore adding to the scenic beauty.
3: Talmine is a small, tranquil village where visitors can experience a slower pace of life. It’s the perfect place to unwind and escape from the noise of urban living.
1: If you need food, there’s a nice bar/restaurant at the Ben Loyal Hotel in Tongue, address: Main Street Tongue By, Lairg IV27 4XE.
2: Visiting with children and a canoe? Talmine Bay is perfect for a safe paddle.
3: Combine a visit with the Kyle of Tongue. Read this article, Castle Varrich, for details.
The beach at Talmine is a paradise for nature lovers, especially once you get near the rocks at the northern end of the bay. It was while clambering across those rocks that I stumbled onto Talmine Pier, with its small crescent of golden sand and a path that follows the coastline around the headland to the next bay at Port Vasgo, roughly two miles further up the coast.
I thoroughly recommend taking the time to walk this path if you’re ever in this part of Sutherland, as it offers superb views, not only of the coastline but also of its diverse wildlife. A tapestry of wildflowers covers the ground along the entire length of the walk, while two of Britain’s favourite marine mammals can be seen on the islands close to the shore and in Talmine Harbour.
Make sure you scan the waves for the triangular fins of harbour porpoises, as this stretch of coastline is a favourite breeding ground for them. In addition, grey seals can be found hauling themselves en masse onto the shores of Eilean nan Ron island, where they gather in huge groups to raise their young throughout the autumn.
The smaller islands closer to shore are home to rabbits that were introduced as a food source in the 18th century and became so prolific the islands were renamed the ‘Rabbit Isles’ shortly after. If you’re lucky, you might even see nesting kestrels taking refuge in the crags at Port Vasgo, and there’s an abundance of Scottish primrose all along this coastline as well – a flower so rare, it only grows along the northern coast of Scotland and is protected by law.
To get to Talmine, head towards Tongue Bay on the A838. You’ll find a bridge crossing the Kyle of Tongue with an excellent viewpoint and car park area, and the settlement of Achuvoldrach on its southern edge.
Just before Achuvoldrach is a minor road pointing north that’s signposted for Talmine, so follow the single-track carriageway till you get to a low-slung valley just in front of a few crofts that overlook Talmine Bay. There’s a grassy area near the beach where you can park your car, after which you can enjoy the trail to Port Vasgo.
The return route is approximately 4 miles in length and is mostly rough grass with a few sections of beach and rock thrown in for good measure, but it should be easily accessible for the majority of people.
The path follows the shoreline quite closely so be prepared to get muddy boots, though much of it is covered with wild grasses. It’s fairly easy-going, and although there are a couple of steep sections, it shouldn’t take more than an hour to get to Port Vasgo from Talmine
As you near Port Vasgo you’ll stumble across a wooden bench and a cairn on the northernmost part of the headland which makes a great place to stop and take in the gorgeous views across Talmine Bay and Eilean nan Ron island. You can then either continue further around the coastline to Port Vasgo or return to Talmine on the same route you came in on.
Things to Do
Beach Exploration: Spend your day exploring the beautiful beach and coastline of Talmine Bay. The beach is often quiet, offering an opportunity for a peaceful day out with the family with only a few seals basking on the rocks for company.
Hiking on the Moine Path: A short distance from the bay, you’ll find Moine, a well-marked trail that takes you across the wild and rugged landscape beneath Ben Hope. The path offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and sea, and it’s a great place for bird watching. There are no facilities in the area, so remember to pack a picnic and take plenty of water with you.
Fishing: Talmine Bay is a fantastic fishing spot. There’s lots of sea fishing to be enjoyed, whether you’re an experienced angler or a novice, or you can enjoy a day out on the water if you hire a boat.
Visit the Kyle of Tongue Bridge and Viewpoint. This is a short drive from Talmine Bay. The viewpoint offers panoramic views of the Kyle of Tongue, Ben Loyal, and Ben Hope. The area is also rich in wildlife, so there’s a good chance of spotting deer and various seabirds. Binoculars (link to binocular reviews) are an essential item to pack.
Explore Skinnet Beach: This is a much larger beach south of Talmine with lovely soft golden sand, but it’s a wee bit tricky to get to. The best option is to walk from Talmine Bay and follow the coastline for 1/2 mile.
Things to Do Nearby
Castle Varrich. Lairg IV27 4XE. 14-minute drive.
Ruined tower house overlooking the Kyle of Tongue. Accessible via a path that runs from Tongue village through woodland. There is no fee to visit the tower. The village has a shop and two pub restaurants.
Smoo Cave. Lairg, IV27 4QA, 56-minute drive.
One of the largest sea caves in Scotland. A guided tour allows visitors to travel deep inside the cave and view an underground waterfall via a dinghy boat ride.
Kyle of Tongue. 13-minute drive.
An expansive yet shallow sea loch that features a rocky coastline designated as a National Scenic Area. Visitors flock to the area for the views of Ben Hope and Ben Loyal.
Strathnaver Museum. Clachan, Bettyhill, KW14 7SS, 38-minute drive.
A small yet fascinating independently run museum that explores the history and heritage of north Scotland and the effects the Highland clearances had on the local population. Located close to Torrisdale Bay and its wide, golden-sand beach,.
Ard Neakie Lime Kilns, Lairg IV27 4UJ, 23-minute drive.
A historic landmark on a spit of land that juts out into Loch Eriboll. Low cliffs surround the mostly shingle shoreline.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the islands near Tongue?
The Rabbit Islands are a group of three uninhabited small islands off the north coast of Sutherland in Tongue Bay.
Where is Talmine Bay?
Talmine Bay is located in the far northern county of Sutherland in Scotland. The nearest village is Talmine (postcode IV27 4YS), and the nearest main road is the A838. The bay is situated next to Tongue Bay, which narrows to the Kyle of Tongue Sea inlet.
What is there to do near the Kyle of Tongue?
Castle Varrich, Strathnaver Museum, Farr Beach, Coldbackie Beach, North Coast Leisure Centre, Kyle of Tongue Causeway, Port Vasco.
Why is Tongue Scotland called Tongue?
The name ‘Tongue’ derives from the Old Norse ‘tunga’, which means a ‘point of land’. There is also a peninsula in the area, which might have given rise to the name.