Lairg is unusual in the northern Highlands, if not unique, in being a large settlement that is not on the coast. One of the reasons that Lairg is slightly bigger than other non-coastal Highland villages is its central location within the county of Sutherland. Having four roads which meet in the village, it used to be known as "The Crossroads of the North". In the 19th century, it was provided with a railway station (at ), on what is now the Far North Line. This development means that the north-west of Sutherland is now easier to reach. (The Far North Line links Inverness in the south with Thurso and Wick in the north.)
Lairg is the site of the fifteenth largest impact crater on earth, which dates from 1.2 billion years ago and is 25 miles across.
Lairg is the location of the largest single-day sheep sale in Europe. These auctions take place in August and bring people from all over Scotland to buy or sell their animals.
In July, Lairg holds a Gala Week. This is organised by a local committee in order to put on fun activities for adults and children. Events include fancy-dress parades, a pet show, fishing competitions on Loch Shin or the Little Loch Shin, and dances with live music in the community centre.
Lairg Crofters' Show
This one-day event has been running for 100 years. It attracts many spectators and participants for activities such as horse-jumping, sheep and cow judging, children's sports, Highland sports (e.g. tossing the caber, throwing the wellie/haggis) and homemade crafts. Sheep racing has even become a significant attraction in recent years.
Little Loch Shin
Little Loch Shin lies directly in the centre of the village. It is a manmade loch created by the hydroelectric dam scheme, and is the home of the "Broon's hoose", a small, wooden dwelling on an islet.
Loch Shin itself lies to the north of Lairg and is 17 miles long.
Lairg has a petrol station, pub/hotel, post office, bank, campsite, primary school, tourist information centre, and various shops, cafes and B&Bs. Tourists attractions include the Shin Falls, fishing, sightseeing and hillwalking.
The areas to the north and west are sparsely populated and crossed by just three single track roads.
A proposal on the rail routes to the north of Inverness is to create a more direct rail from Inverness to Dornoch via a new bridge and an old branch line, which would leave Lairg isolated on a circuitous loop away from the main route. Although the link would shorten journey times to Thurso and Wick, reducing the rail service to Lairg would be detrimental to the local economy. Given the huge cost of building a rail bridge over the Dornoch Firth and both the Scottish government and the Highland Regional council's lack of enthusiasm for the project, it seems unlikely the proposal will become reality.
People associated with Lairg
- Sam McDonald (1762-1802), soldier and strongman
- Sir James Matheson (1796–1878), entrepreneur
- Alastair Bruce of Crionaich K.stJ OBE VR (Born 1960), Fitzalan Pursuivant Extraordinary and Historical Advisor to Film and Television Productions including Downton Abbey.
- Gaelic and Norse in the Landscape: Placenames in Caithness and Sutherland. Scottish National Heritage.
- GROS. "Standard Outputs - Census Data Explorer - Scotland's Census". www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk.
- "Council giving short shrift to rail, claims union". www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk.
- "Ancient meteorite crater mapped". 14 September 2016 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Britain's biggest meteorite impact found" (Press release). University of Aberdeen. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
Media related to Lairg at Wikimedia Commons