North of the Cromarty Firth, the hammer-shaped Fearn peninsula can still be approached from the south by the ancient ferry crossing from Cromarty to Nigg, though to the north the link is a causeway over the Dornoch Firth, the inlet that marks the northern boundary of the peninsula. On the southern edge of the Dornoch Firth the A9 bypasses the quiet town of TAIN, an attractive, old-fashioned small town of grand whisky-coloured sandstone buildings that was the birthplace of St Duthus, an eleventh-century missionary who inspired great devotion in the Middle Ages. Tain’s main attraction is the Glenmorangie whisky distillery where the highly rated malt is produced; it lies beside the A9 on the north side of town. Booking is recommended for the tours; there is also a shop.

Dornoch

DORNOCH, a genteel and appealing town eight miles north of Tain, lies on a flattish headland overlooking the Dornoch Firth. A middle-class holiday resort, with trees and flowers in profusion, solid Edwardian hotels, and miles of sandy beaches giving good views across the estuary to the Fearn peninsula, the town is renowned for its championship golf course, Scotland’s most northerly first-class course. Nearby Skibo Castle was where Madonna married Guy Ritchie; she also had her son baptized in Dornoch cathedral.

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