Evocative remains of a deserted clearance village


Unravel history at Rosal

Over seventy ruined buildings sit quietly on the hillside overlooking Ben Loyal and the empty, open lands of central Sutherland. Once this deserted village would have been full of people, animals and children, but today the subdued remains of their homes and byres are testament to a communal way of life which was swept away by the Sutherland Clearances. Read the interpretive panels and imagine the daily life of this Strathnaver township in the centuries before the sheep came.

Our map guide to the forests of the Far North will help you explore Rosal and other forest trails in Sutherland.

Parking Walking Viewpoint Ancient monument

Find a refreshment

Bettyhill, Tongue and Altnaharra have places to eat and public toilets. In winter these may not be open every day, so check before you go.

Walking trails

Cycling trails

Mountain biking trails

A cruel clearance

In 1814 Patrick Sellar, an employee of Sutherland estate, began to evict people from their homes in Strathnaver to make way for profitable large-scale sheep farming. His pitiless approach was notorious: in 1816 he was tried, but cleared, of culpable homicide.

Rosal deserted township is just one of many villages which once dotted the landscape here, and a poignant reminder of a way of life which Patrick Sellar, and many others like him, helped bring to an end.

Gloomy memories

'These proceedings were carried on with the greatest rapidity as well as with most reckless cruelty' Donald MacLeod

Donald Macleod was born at Rosal and lived there until the evictions in 1814. He wrote his accounts many years later, and published them in 1856 under the title ‘Gloomy Memories’.

Donald wrote in English, but would have spoken Gaelic when he lived at Rosal. You can listen to some extracts from Gloomy Memories below. The English version is narrated by Matthew Zajac. The Gaelic version is narrated by Willie Morrison.

Contact: North Highland Forest District

Address: The Links, Golspie Business Park, Golspie

Postcode: KW10 6UB

Telephone: 0300 067 6850


How to get here

Rosal is near Syre in Strathnaver, between Bettyhill and Altnaharra. Follow the B871 south from Bettyhill, turning east towards Kinbrace at Syre. Just over the bridge you'll see a forest road on your right running alongside the River Naver. The car park is ¾ mile (1.2 km) along this road at grid reference NC 690 426.

Using SatNav?

KW11 6UG is the nearest postcode.

Public transport

Sorry, there is no public transport to this forest.

Nearby places

North Sutherland has many fantastic beaches and hills to explore. Go and see the unknown in nearby Borgie Glen, or follow the river at Borgie Breco. Over in Caithness there are two new forests - Newton Hill Croft just outside Wick and Sibster near Thurso.

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