Sutherland (ON Sudrland, South Land of the Norsemen) has a population of about 15,000 people most of whom live on the fertile east coast.  Inland there is much evidence of former settlement in the Straths of Kildonan, Fleet and Oykel.

The shores are gentle and low with expansive sandy beaches.  The many attractive beaches are varied, from tiny coves to expansive stretches of sand.  There are dramatic cliffs, deep sea lochs and much gentler estuaries and saltmarshes including Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet.  These support an interesting range of waterfowl, waders and diverse flora.

The highly varied and spectacular scenery is markedly influenced by the complex geology in the area. The Ice Age of the last 100,000 years is evident everywhere, no more so than the Helmsdale Fault line which can be traced from Helmsdale to the Dornoch Firth.

The climate of the North Highlands varies greatly from west to east.  The east coast is much drier, but has a wider range of annual temperature.  The growing season is much longer and has a very pleasant microclimate.  Winters can be cold with frost and snow most years.