Snap! Cape Wrath to grace playing cards

IT IS one of Scotland's most remote outposts – home to just two people and some ruined historic sites – and is regularly bombed in military exercises.

• Cape Wrath

But despite the apparent lack of subject matter, a project has been launched to collect 52 images of Cape Wrath so the northerly tip of mainland Britain can be immortalised in a pack of playing cards.

The cards will be given to the thousands of UK and Nato forces personnel who train there every year. Europe's largest military exercise – the biannual Joint Warrior – also uses Cape Wrath.

The Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) has launched a competition to find the best photographs of what remains a dramatic landscape.

Over the next two months, the commission will seek 52 images from four categories – archaeology and architecture, flora and fauna, sea and coast, and mountain and moor – with the winners selected in June.

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

The contest is part of RCAHMS'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 neighbouring communities and visiting troops.

The Ministry of Defence owns the surrounding estate and carries out regular exercises which involve bombing targets on and offshore. But the area is also visited by about 2,000 tourists each year despite its remote location.

Defending the Past project manager Laura Gutierrez said: "Cape Wrath and north-west Sutherland is a very special part of the world, steeped in history with a stunning natural environment.

"We know there is a huge amount of photographic talent out there and we want the public to send us imagery which captures the uniqueness of the area and which also demonstrates an emotional connection to a spectacular part of Scotland."

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

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

Since its landscape is largely inaccessible to visitors, Cape Wrath has a wide diversity of wildlife, including red deer, badgers and golden eagles. Its open peatlands are home to greenshank, golden plover, dunlin and many other species of wading bird; the cliffs accommodate some of the most spectacular colonies of seabirds in Britain; common seals can be seen at the jetty; and whales and dolphins are often spotted offshore.

Arctic and Alpine plants can be found growing at sea level, a combination unique to the area and one which led to Cape Wrath being designated an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest.)

Mr Ure said: "I don't think it will be a problem getting 52 images here, there is so much to see."