Rogart is actually a parish, with its central village called Pittentrail – which the A839 runs through on its way from the A9 junction at The Mound right through to Lairg. So it’s easy to get to for anyone on the NC500 route, and is only four miles in from the junction. Once there, you’ll find Pittentrail Inn, Sleeperzzz hostel-style accommodation (you sleep in railway carriages!), various B&Bs, self-catering chalets, a local shop and post office, plus a filling station on the main road.
Pittentrail is set at the base and centre of Strath Fleet, with the main road, railway, the River Fleet, all taking their course through it. Further out from the village the parish has numerous hamlets, with the largest being Little Rogart which is set up in the hills to the north of the village.
Pittentrail is a good base to explore the parish of Rogart by foot, with various footpaths setting off from there – look for the map next to the parking area and picnic bench on the left as you head down to the railway station.
One of the things which makes walking in the area so enjoyable is the rich mosaic of different habitats and features which make up the landscape. At the lower levels, there’s unusually fertile farmland for Sutherland, with this separated by the meandering River Fleet and its alder-clad banks. Then as the land rises on each side of the strath, the habitat changes to meadows grazed by sheep and Highland Cattle, with pockets of native woodland – full of bird life and carpeted in bluebells in the late spring. Higher up the slopes still and especially on the northern side of the parish, the landscape is dominated by hill crofts as grassland is replaced by heather moorland.
Wildlife and Bird-watching
Buzzards just before they fledged, Muie.. If you look closely you can see, below the front chick, a mole. Photo courtesy of C. Cougan.
The area has a huge range of wildlife – from shaggy wild goats to the soaring Ospreys of Strath Fleet.
Birds spotted in the area include Goshawk, Sea Eagle, Black Grouse, Sparrowhawk, Red Kite and the Mutant Melanistic Pheasant. Once a tidal estuary, an area called The Alders is now a thickly wooded marsh where Ospreys nest.
Larger mammals such as the famous wild goats are often seen by Morvich, whilst Roe and Red Deer can be spotted at dusk and dawn. Some of our smaller mammals are Pine Marten, Stoat and Weasel. Rogart also hosts such beauties as the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly, the carnivorous plant the Bog Violet and a host of different kinds of orchid.
Unusually for the Highlands, day permits can be purchased for salmon and sea trout fishing on the River Fleet. The river also offers good brown trout fishing, and permits can also be purchased for trout fishing at a few of the hill lochs in the parish. For more information and to buy permits or go to the Post Office in the Spar Shop in Pittentrail village.
History and Heritage
Today Rogart is a scattered crofting community but it was once a thriving, heavily populated district until the Highland Clearances in the 1800s.
Evidence of Rogart’s earlier past lie in the numerous remains of hut circles, tumuli, stone cists, a hill fort at Kinnauld, the mysterious Lettie’s Grave and stone cairns.
Bronze blades were found, in 1845, by men who opened up a tumulus whilst erecting a fence whilst the construction of the Duke of Sutherland’s railway in 1868 resulted in a notable archaeological find. A large Pictish hoard was unearthed, including three silver-gilt penannular brooches. Of these the famous Rogart Brooch can be seen at Dunrobin Castle Museum.
We have a vibrant Heritage Society that holds a wealth of knowledge about the community’s history, local characters and musical traditions. Unfortunately we don’t have a permanent museum but our archives are gradually being put online on our new website www.rogartheritage.co.uk