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Updated 06/20/2017


The Ord of Caithness

The Ord of Caithness is a granite mass on the east coast of the Highland council area of Scotland, on the boundary of the counties Sutherland and Caithness.  Historically, the grim barrier of the Ord guaranteed its isolation, and travelers who passed that way were greatly impressed by the experience. It was described in the 1880s as such, "The old road over it, formerly the only land ingress to Caithness, traversed the crest of its stupendous seaward precipices at a height and in a manner most appalling to both man and beast... even the present road, formed in 1811... has very stiff gradients."

This southern border between Caithness and Sutherland is a no-man's-land between the warring Sinclairs and the upstart Sutherlands.  The road follows sheer cliffs as it twists and winds its way north from Helmsdale. In winter time, the snow can drift over the road making it impassable. 

It was even more dangerous in the past when the Ord was guarded by a Caithness robber-baron known as Grey Steel. Grey's main objective in life was to way-lay travelers on the Ord and demand payment for passage over it. If he wasn't satisfied with the amount offered, the unfortunate traveler was thrown over the steep cliffs to his death.