It is strange to find ourselves at the start of a new year, in which we had hoped things would be vastly different, once again being asked to stay at home to save lives. Yet we still hope for better times to come in 2021. Times where we may be able to invite one and all safely into Caithness and Sutherland; times where we may share a hug or a handshake with a stranger, and times where we may once again throw open our doors of tourism and hospitality to embrace you all with a warm Highland welcome.
Never before has our natural landscape looked so inviting to so many; the thought of being able to escape and spend time in our fresh northern air, walking along our beaches and climbing our mighty mountains may have made you long to be here. And yet we must ask you to be patient once again! Fear not, our coasts and mountains will still be here when you are able to safely return.
Scotland’s theme for 2021 is a Year of Coasts and Waters, extended from 2020, so perhaps this year we should take our inspiration from the water. Alone, a small burn is not something much to be regarded. Yet if you allow that burn to run it can wear away the rocks beneath it to form a deep gorge. And when waterfalls cascade from that gorge into our lochs they grow deeper and wider. These great lochs run rivers to the sea; where the tide crashes its force onto our lands and forms the wide beaches and towering cliffs that Caithness and Sutherland are famous for.
This year we must be like the small burn; slowly and surely lasting out the changes around us and wearing away our path to flow clear and true. What we cannot change around us we must endure, and what can be worn away through our efforts must be steadily worked on. Then in years to come we will be able to look back and see what our efforts have wrought and see the path that we have formed through this pandemic; not alone but together.
Everything in our landscape is connected, from the rains that fall to the waves that roar, and the same is true also of our people. When the tide washes up flotsam after a storm you can often find strange things from countries far away, but this year it has never been more clear just how close we are able to remain with one another while being separated at such distances.
So whether you are friends near or far, have visited hundreds of times or never before; you also form part of the connection between our local landscapes, businesses, historic sites, wildlife, shops, tours, ferries, crafters, designers, eateries, rentals, holiday sites, and so much more! We’ve been so encouraged when you have let us know online how much you are looking forward to visiting us and how much you’re looking forward to experiencing everything that Caithness and Sutherland have to offer. We hope that whatever this year holds you will continue to share with us in our love for the North of Scotland!
Rest assured; like the trickle of water that carves out the mountain, we will wait patiently to one day welcome you back.