For our first full day in Caithness we had planned to visit Dunnet Head, John O’Groats and Duncansby Head. Firstly, however, we visited two churches in Thurso.
The current anglican church is the Church of St Peter and The Holy Rood. It is part of the Scottish Episcopalian Church United Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness. On the day of our visit, the church was open for visitors.
North of the Church of St Peter and The Holy Rood is the ruins of the Old St Peters Kirk. This closed in 1832.
The walk between the two churches and where we parked was along the west bank of the Thurso river.
Dunnet Head and Windhaven Cafe
Leaving Thurso, we headed east toward the the most northerly point on the UK mainland, Dunnet Head. On the cliff at Dunnet Head, there is a viewpoint, looking north towards Orkney and east to John O’Groats. As befits the most northerly point on the UK mainland, there is the most northerly mainland lighthouse in the UK.
Leaving Dunnet Head, we headed south back to the road to John O’Groats, but first we stopped at the Windhaven Cafe for lunch.
Back on the main road to John O’Groats, there is Gills Bay. From here there is a ferry service to Orkney operated by Pentland Ferries. We were fortunate to see a ferry leaving Gills Bay.
Once the ferry had left it was a short 3 mile drive to John O’Groats. Despite publicity, it is neither the most northerly point or the most north easterly. At John O’Groats, there is a harbour, hotel, visitor centre and a number retail outlets for the tourists.
The waters between the mainland and Orkney at this point, in the Pentland Firth, are some of the strongest in the world. The tidal force can pick up and move boulders along the Pentland Firth. A sculpture has been created and installed at John O’Groats.
Heading east, our final stop of the day was at Duncansby Head. At this point the Caithness Coast turns south from the Pentland Firth to the North Sea. By the car park, there is a light house, however the notable feature are the Duncansby Stacks.
Returning to the car, both Joh O’Groats and Dunnet Head could be seen.
It was back to Reay, and later in the evening we met up with friends and had an evening meal at the Upper Deck in Scrabster.
Some useful links associated with day 7 our trip
- The Northern Episcopalians
- Old St Peter’s Church And Burial Ground (from canmore.org.uk)
- Dunnet Head (from Wikipedia)
- Gills Bay (from Wikipedia)
- John O’Groats
- Duncansby Head (from Undiscovered Scotland)
More pictures from Day 7 (Dunnet and Duncansby Heads)