The Sutherland Railway opened from Ardgay to Golspie on 13th April, 1868. It was worked by the Highland Railway from that date, and was legally absorbed by the Highland Railway in 1884. The Dornoch Light Railway was authorised in August 1896, and opened on 2nd June, 1902. The Dornoch line was constructed to Light Railway standards with light rails and level-crossings where it crossed public roads. It left the Sutherland Railway at The Mound, which was named after Telford's embankment of 1817. The branch had a separate platform at The Mound, located behind the main-line station.
The railway crossed a causeway to Cambusavie Platform, by the shore of Loch Fleet, and was crossed by the road before heading to Skelbo, Embo and Dornoch, 7¾ miles from The Mound. The railway owned a hotel at Dornoch to cater for visitors to what is Scotland's smallest cathedral city.
Initially, a service of three trains each way ran on weekdays, worked by Highland Railway 0-6-0T No. 56, and later by HR 0-4-4Ts Nos. 45 and 46. Renumbered by BR as 55051 and 55053, they continued to work the line until 1956, by which time they were the last former Highland Railway locomotives to remain in service. In 1957, GWR-design '1600' Class 0-6-0PTs No. 1646 was transferred north to work the line, followed by No. 1649 in 1958. These lightweight engines were very suitable for operation over lightly-laid lines; however, their tenure was brief as the Dornoch Branch closed to all traffic on 13th June, 1960. Nevertheless, the '1600s' remained in service as pilots at Dingwall until December 1962.
Today, there is no trace of the stations at Cambusavie or Embo, though the building from Embo remains in a nearby field. At Skelbo, the platform edge remains, while Dornoch Station is occupied by a shop and the former goods yard is occupied by industrial units.