John O'Groats, Dunnet Head & Canisbay Church

  • Port

    Scrabster, Scotland, United Kingdom

  • Activity Level

    Moderate

  • Excursion Type

    Local Sightseeing, All

  • Wheelchair Accessible

    NO

  • Cost

    USD USD

    Price between $51-$100
  • Minimum Age

    Information not currently available.

  • Duration

    4 Hours

  • Meals Included

    No

Visit the northernmost community in Britain in an area isolated by high mountains. Neither roads nor bridges existed here until the 18th century, so the Highlands have long remained a distinctive and individual part of the British Isles. The Celtic people who came to live in this fertile land retained a very different way of life until relatively recent times.

From the port of Scrabster, your travels will take you through nearby Thurso and across the far northeastern peninsula. Here, the landscape is flat and fertile with some of the finest farmland in Scotland. Local history says that disciples of St Ninian brought the Christian faith to the Caithness region as early as the 5th century AD. The three churches in Caithness dating back to the Middle Ages are still in use. When the Queen Mother stayed at the nearby Castle of Mey, just three miles further along the coast, she regularly worshipped at Canisbay Kirk (church). You will stop here for 15 minutes. Look for the gravestone of Jan De Groot, discovered under the foundations when Canisaby Kirk was built.

Continue to the end of the road at John o' Groats, offering wonderful panoramic views across the stormy waters of the Pentland Firth to the Orkney Islands. John o' Groats got its curious name from a Dutchman, Jan de Groot, who established a ferry link with the newly-acquired Orkneys, in 1496, under the rule of James IV. De Groot built an octagonal house with eight doors, one for each of his seven sons and one for himself, and an eight-sided table so that no one could occupy the head of the table -- a competitive family indeed. Wander about the small harbor area, browse in the gift shops or maybe take a photo of the well-known signpost that advises exactly how far you are from many points of civilization.

Back on the coach you will drive to Dunnet Head -- the northernmost point of Scotland's mainland and a favorite of the Queen Mother. Take in the outstanding views of the clean sweep of Dunnet Bay and, on a clear day, across the Pentland Firth to the Orkney Islands.

Notes:

Wear sturdy non-skid walking shoes. Dress warmly in layers with a wind- and waterproof outer layer; bring gloves, a scarf and a warm hat as it can be cool and windy at Dunnet Head.