Gold Panning at Kildonan

Find out about the great Sutherland gold rush | 35 miles from the Curling Pond

In the heart of the Scottish Highlands, nestled within the picturesque Suisgill Estate, lies a unique opportunity for adventure seekers and history enthusiasts alike. Gold panning at Kildonan Burn offers a glimpse into Scotland’s rich past, where the glint of gold once sparked a rush of excitement through the Sutherland hills. This guide delves into the enchanting world of gold panning at Kildonan, providing insights into its historical significance, how to get started, and tips for making the most out of this captivating experience.

The History of Gold Panning at Kildonan

The discovery of gold in Kildonan Burn in 1868 by a local man marked the beginning of what would be known as the Great Sutherland Gold Rush. This event transformed the quiet stretches of Suisgill Estate into bustling hubs of activity, attracting individuals from far and wide with dreams of finding their fortune. Although this period was relatively short-lived, it left an indelible mark on the region’s history and culture. Today, visitors are invited to partake in recreational gold panning in designated areas within the estate, continuing a tradition that has captivated humans for centuries.

What sparked the Great Sutherland Gold Rush?

The discovery of a significant amount of gold in Kildonan Burn by a local man in 1868 sparked what became known as the Great Sutherland Gold Rush.

Obtaining a Permit

Before embarking on your gold panning adventure at Kildonan Burn, securing a permit is essential. Permits can be conveniently acquired from several locations in Helmsdale including Glencoast, The Garrison, and The Belgrave Arms. Alternatively, permits can also be purchased directly from Suisgill Estate. These permits not only grant access to specific sections of Kildonan and Suisgill burns but also ensure that all activities are conducted responsibly and with respect for the environment.

Getting Started with Gold Panning

Gold panning may seem daunting to beginners but fear not; it is an activity that individuals of all ages can enjoy with minimal equipment. Basic tools such as a pan and shovel are essential for sifting through sediment to find those elusive flakes or nuggets. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own equipment or inquire about rental options when purchasing their permits. Patience and persistence are key virtues in gold panning; while not everyone will strike it rich, discovering even small specks of gold provides an exhilarating sense of achievement.

Tips for Successful Gold Panning

To increase your chances of success while gold panning at Kildonan Burn, there are several tips worth considering:

  • Choose your spot wisely: Look for areas where water slows down such as bends in the burn or behind large rocks; these spots often accumulate heavier materials including gold.
  • Practice makes perfect: Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find gold immediately; refining your technique will improve your chances over time.
  • Respect nature: Remember that you’re a guest in this beautiful landscape; avoid disturbing wildlife and leave no trace behind.

Accommodation Options

For those wishing to immerse themselves fully in their gold panning adventure, staying on-site offers added convenience and early access to prime locations along the burns. The Suisgill Estate provides accommodation options such as Balvallioch cottage or Upper Suisgill Lodge exclusively for guests who wish to pan on Suisgill burn. These accommodations offer comfort after a day spent by the water’s edge and allow visitors more time to explore other attractions within this stunning Highland estate.


  • Kildonan Burn is located within Suisgill Estate in Scotland.
  • A permit is required for gold panning which can be obtained from various locations in Helmsdale or directly from Suisgill Estate.
  • The area has historical significance due to its association with the Great Sutherland Gold Rush following significant discoveries made there in 1868.
  • Visitors need basic equipment like pans and shovels for sifting through sediment during their search for gold.
  • Tips include choosing spots where water slows down which might accumulate heavier materials including gold.
  • Suisgill Estate offers accommodation options such as Balvallioch cottage or Upper Suisgill Lodge exclusively for guests interested in accessing additional areas like Suisgill burn for panning.

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