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Shock as Lord Strathnaver found dead after cliff fall in far north Highlands with friend describing incident as 'tragic accident'

By Mike Merritt

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The community at Golspie has said it is in shock after the "tragic loss" of Lord Strathnaver, who was found dead after falling from cliffs on Saturday.

The 40-year-old was found at the bottom of 30ft cliffs at Thurso East late on Saturday, in what a friend has described as a "tragic accident".

In a post on Facebook, Golspie Community Council wrote: "The whole community is shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic loss of Alexander Sutherland. On behalf of the community, Golspie Community Council extends our deepest condolences to Alexander's family, his many friends and all who loved him."

Police say his death is being treated as "unexplained".

Thurso Lifeboat was launched at 11.30pm on Saturday after reports of a person on the rocks.

"The lifeboat quickly made its way to the area and casualty care trained crew members went ashore in the inflatable Y boat. They located the casualty and gave CPR and assisted Scottish Ambulance Service and local coastguard deal with the situation until Police Scotland took control," said a spokesperson for the lifeboat.

A friend said that Lord Strathnaver (40) had been attending the Tunes by the Dunes music festival at Dunnet at the weekend. He was a keen surfer and also had a house a few miles away at Thurso East.

"He was walking with a friend and she was ahead of him. The next she knew he had gone over the cliffs. It was a tragic accident," said the friend, who asked not to be named.

"She climbed down to him and gave him CPR. Neither had a mobile phone. She had to climb back up and find a phone and call for help.

"Sadly Al could not be saved. He was such a lovely chap, a really happy go lucky person. He had no airs. I did not know him as Lord Strathnaver – just as Al.

"He was a keen surfer – he used to surf every day and that is why he had a house at Thurso East. He also had a little surf shop. It appears he had been at the music festival, had left it and may have been heading back. It is such a tragic loss."

The body was found at the foot of cliffs at Thurso East.
The body was found at the foot of cliffs at Thurso East.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We were made aware of concern for a 40-year-old man near to Thurso Castle shortly after 11.20pm on Saturday, September 3.

“Emergency services attended but the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

“His death is being treated as unexplained and enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances.”

His grandmother, the Elizabeth, 24th Countess of Sutherland, died in 2019 aged 98.

The countess's death meant her eldest son Alistair became the Earl of Sutherland and his son, Alexander, took the title of Lord Strathnaver.

A spokesperson for Dunrobin said the family had no comment at this stage.

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