The Battle of Brough

Brough Bay is a lovely little Bay, just below the tearooms at the foot of Dunnet Head.  The villagers were at war for years over the ownership of part of the Bay which was clearly marked on the deeds of Windhaven which had belonged to John Eden and then to Brian Sparks.

What followed between 2006 and 2016 was partly a comedy of errors, but sadly ended in tragedy.  Two of the villagers stood up to the bully boys of the Brough Bay Association, masquerading as a community group.


Community kept out

Dear Sirs,

If you are a potential funder of the Association, we would advise you to investigate the history of the Association and their claims that they own all of Brough Bay.  They do not own all of the Bay.  Brough Bay Ltd. owns a part of it and the Company does not give their permission to the Association to work on it except in writing.

In 2010 the Company placed a bench and barbecue at the Bay which were subsequently removed.  We can only assume that this was by the Association as they had already removed a seat from the area overlooking the Bay.  The police were involved on a number of occasions regarding the seat as well as matters at the Bay.  The winch was also stolen from the Company’s land and the Company’s CCTV camera interfered with even though that was not within the disputed area.

The Company asked for the Association’s books to be audited by the administrators of LEADER but it fell on deaf ears.  You should perhaps carry out an audit now if you are planning on funding them.  The main issues are:

1.  The Association does not own the land – it was gifted to the village of Brough by a local benefactor.

2.  The Association excludes many villagers from the Association.

3.  The Association does not consult with the villagers.

4.  The Association is a nefarious secretive body.

5   The Association’s members dump unseaworthy boats on the land and make a complete mess causing environmental problems as well as health and safety.

6.   The Association has not fulfilled it obligations under the previous funding.

We have all documentation relating to the dispute including the original application forms to HLF and LEADER for the funding received in 2010.  If you would like to view any of this documentation, please do not hesitate to contact us.  If the Association is using materials developed by the Company in the wake of the launch of the North Highland Way, please note that these are copyright and protected in law.


Tina Irving and Brian Sparks.
Brough Bay Ltd. t/a LetsGoNorth
KW14 8YE.

Brough Bay Association update

The Association have recently changed their registered address to the offices of the Caithness Voluntary Group instead of Georgesons.  You can get company information from Companies House Scotland for a few pounds.  The association remains a secretive organisation.  The accounts were not audited from the last grant they received from the Heritage Lottery Fund and LEADER and they have done nothing in the bay since fixing the pier in 2010.  There have been no events since the grand opening.  The planned school trips to the Bay have not materialised as put in the original application.   For funding bodies reading this information, it is advisable to get an audit of their accounts.

The storehouses are now owned by a local family and of course the section in the corner of the Bay belongs to Brough Bay Ltd.   See more about the Bay in our newsletter at


About Brough Harbour

The Bay is owned partly by a local community group and partly by Brough Bay Ltd. which owns the campsite, B&B and cottage above the Bay.The natural harbour at Brough has been used for fishing and landing boats for hundres of years.  It was described in the Old Statistical Account (1794).  There is photographic evidence (in the Johnston Collection) 1900 of harbour related activities such as drying nets and hauling out boats being carried out.  A winch was installed to hal the boats.

In 1830 the Northern Lighthouse Board built a pier/slipway as a servicing point for the Dunnet Head Lighthouse.  In the 1970’s the harbour users formed a group called “the pier committee” with the purpose of maintaining the slipway.  Later the group was formalised with a constitution under the chairmanship of Ian Munro of Clett Cottage, Brough.

1978 – After the near destruction of the slipway in a storm, the group raised money to repair the slip.  Without this initiative, the harbour would have become unusable.

1983  The community group reached agreement with the Northern Lighthouse Board to take over the Board’s interest in the Harbour.

1985  The boat park was originally created by Mervyn Sinclair, a local and resident of Brough.  Mr. Sinclair also helped with keeping the place tidy, and he and his father often launched their boats from the pier. The community group later concreted this part as well as installing a wall along the shore, north from the lighthouse store was built to give the cliff some protection from erosion.

1991 The community group installed rock armouring along the seaward side of the boat park as its own expense with money gathered from the local community.

1993  The harbour and surrounding land was gifted to the community group by Margaret Munro, widow of Ian Munro who was chairman of the group since its formation.  Members of the committee each made a contribution towards the local costs.

The community group has now been formed into a company registered with Companies House Scotland.

Local beauty spot ruined!

Local people have written to the press regarding the state of  Brough Bay as follows:

“Dear Sirs,

Brough Bay is a beautiful spot on the Caithness coast at the base of Dunnet Head. It is widely used by tourists and locals alike who go there to picnic, barbecue and enjoy the tranquil place. However, the Bay is currently ruined by two unseaworthy boats which have been placed on the shore by the Brough Bay Association which are full of and attract rubbish. The shore is sodden with oil which is leaking from the boats which are rapidly deteriorating. The Association received over £50,000 of public money in 2010 to maintain the pier and look after the Bay area but it is clear that they are not adhering to the objectives of the Association which is a registered company at Companies House Scotland (company number SC420393). One of the stated objectives is “to promote the use, and management improvement of the slipway, harbour and associated facilities at Brough Bay to the benefit of the community of the Parish of Dunnet.” The boats have been in situ since May 2010. Attempts by local people to remove the boats have been thwarted by the Association on several occasions. The writer wonders how unseaworthy boats which attract rubbish, are a health and safety concern and a threat to the environment can possibly improve the harbour area for the benefit of the community.

Interested parties can write to the chairman of the association, Michael O’Donnell, Burifa, Brough, Thurso, Caithness, KW14 8YE, as listed at Companies House Scotland. ”

If you want to add your voice to getting this mess cleaned up, please write to the association.

Brough pier renovations

In 2011, Brough pier underwent renovations to repair some of the storm damage and general deterioration of the pier.  The work was undertaken by a local contractor, and other information is now available around the village as to the origins of the pier and how it was used to build Dunnet Head lighthouse.  There is an interpretation board at the Bay providing details.

Further details can be found in the Historical Environment Record maintained by the Highland Council- see

Some information about the project can be seen at the following links:

Lighthouse loading platform, Brough

Croft, Brough

Slipway at Brough

Information supplied by the Dunnet Head Educational Trust –