Images of Cape Wrath win dealer's cut for Nato cards

REMOTE and now almost entirely devoid of residents, Cape Wrath rewards its hardy visitors with some spectacular land and seascapes.

Now a collection of images from the most north-westerly point on the British mainland are to have the unique distinction of featuring on packs of playing cards to be given to the thousands of Nato soldiers who train there each year.

The Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) held a competition to find the best photographs of the dramatic surroundings and has chosen 52 images from four categories: archaeology and architecture, flora and fauna, sea and coast, and mountain and moor.

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The four winning entries and 21 runners-up now feature on more than 9,000 sets of cards, 7,500 of which are going to soldiers training at Cape Wrath, while 1,500 are being sold for 2.99.

A further 27 images of Cape Wrath and its surrounding area have been sourced from RCAHMS' collection, Defence Estates and the Sutherland Partnership.

As well as featuring on the playing cards, the photos will be showcased at a community exhibition from Friday and on the RCAHMS website.

The contest is part of the commission's year-long Defending the Past project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Defence Estates, to encourage access, enjoyment and understanding of Cape Wrath's built heritage among the nearby community and the visiting troops.

The Ministry of Defence owns the surrounding estate and carries out regular exercises that involve bombing targets on land and offshore.

But the area is also visited by about 2,000 visitors each year despite its remote location.

Project Manager Laura Gutierrez said: "We're delighted with the winning images.The amateur photographers who entered are clearly very talented and have captured the essence of this very special part of the world.

"These playing cards are likely to journey abroad with the soldiers, taking examples of this rich and beautiful heritage to people who may have never heard of, never mind laid eyes on, the north-west Sutherland landscape."

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Richard Osgood, Defence Estates senior historic advisor, added: "This project helps troops appreciate the importance of protecting the historic and natural environment at Cape Wrath."

The architecture and archaeology section was won by David Graham for a picture of Balna-keil Church, Durness; the sea and coast section winner was Peter Green for a shot of Sandwood Bay; Mountain and Moor was won by Matthew Thomas for a picture of the autumn sun behind Cranstackie and Beinn Spionaidh, with Foinaven in the distance; and Tony Jackson won the Flora and Fauna section for his image of a stag on Cape Wrath.

Cape Wrath once supported a thriving community, but now there are only two residents, John and Katherine Ure, who last year opened a caf in the former lighthouse keeper's buildings.

All that remains of Achiemore is a wooden bridge, built by the Royal Marines in 1980; a chequered yellow and black army building that acts as a sentry post to stop walkers who may stray on to the range; and the foundations of an old school.

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