Caithness in the North of Scotland

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Achavanich standing stones in Caithness, Scotland - Visit our Scotland

C Caithness is the area in the far north west of Scotland and is on the North Coast 500 road route. The countryside varies with vast areas of land covered in bog and heather that is a rich natural environment. The coastal areas offer some of the most scenic and spectacular in Scotland along with beautiful sandy beaches. Ancient castles, brochs and standing stones can be explored throughout Caithness and are testament to a long history for this county.

There are 2 vehicular and a pedestrian only ferry to Orkney from Scrabster, Gills Bay and John O’ Groats. The two towns in Caithness, Wick and Thurso have interesting histories and are well worth visiting. The Castle of Mey and the walled garden is open to the public during the main tourism season and is highly recommended for a visit.

John o' Groats Hotel and Nomadic Boulders

John o' Groats Hotel and Nomadic Boulders on the North Coast 500 road route.

Stacks of Duncansby is close to John o' Groats

Stacks of Duncansby near John o' Groats

John o' Groats harbour boat trips

John o' Groats harbour

Old fishing boat in field near John o' Groats

Old fishing boat in field near John o' Groats

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Reiss / Keiss beach

View along Reiss beach towards Keiss, which is at the far end of the beach. This beach is ideal for walking dogs or just enjoying the wide open spaces provided by this North Coast area of Caithness. The nearby Keiss Castle is wonderfully photographic and involves a short walk (and a bit of a scramble as there is no path) along the coastline from the old fishing village of Keiss.

Wick Golf Course, which is a 9 hole course, borders the dunes that run along Reiss beach. The course is open to visitors so remember to bring your clubs if you enjoy the game.

Keiss Castle

Keiss Castle on the cliffs overlooking Sinclairs Bay

Old wooden fishing boat on North Coast 500 route - Dunnet Bay

Old wooden fishing boat on North Coast 500 route - Dunnet Bay, Caithness.

Castle of Mey

Castle of Mey

Castle of Mey in the far north of Scotland on the North Coast 500 road route.

Castle of Mey from the Rose Garden

The Castle of Mey from the Rose Garden within the walled garden

Castle of Mey walled garden

Castle of Mey walled garden

Caithness Castle

Poppies and Primulas in the castle's garden

Castle of Mey in Caithness, Scotland.

Caithness coastline

The Caithness coastline is best seen from the sea and daily trips around the coastline are available to book from Wick and John O’ Groats. You can also explore the area by walking along many of the coastal paths available, many of the coastal paths are not marked on maps so be adventurous and follow paths that can be seen or break out your own path along the coast.

You will be welcome on most coastal areas as long as you are sensible and follow the Countryside Code for Scotland, and leave only footprints … and please remember to keep your dog(s) on the lead anywhere near livestock and wildlife.

Around the Caithness coastline you will sandy beaches, steep cliffs where birds nest and viewpoints that look over the Orkney Islands. If you are a nature lover then the Caithness coastal area provides many locations to bird watch, look for otters, and if lucky see dolphins and whales. Caithness also has birds of prey including buzzards, owls and kestrels.

Caithness countryside scenes

Cow on a lush grass field in Caithness, Highlands, Scotland.

Cow in field in Caithness

Butterfly on wild flower at Scarlet harbour

Noss Head Lighthouse and Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

Noss Head Lighthouse and Castle Sinclair Girnigoe in Caithness, Scotland North Coast 500 Road Route

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe in Caithness, Scotland North Coast 500 Road Route

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe info board

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe information board

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe view from path

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe seen from path

View of Castle Sinclair and Sinclairs Bay Caithness

View of Castle Sinclair and Sinclairs Bay

Thurso

Thurso is one of the two main towns in the county of Caithness and is close to the harbour and ferry port at Scrabster. The important salmon fishing river, the River Thurso runs through the town. The town has hotel, bed and breakfast and a caravan / camp site that provides holiday accommodation and during summer months it is advisable to book well in advance. Holiday cottages are available throughout Caithness with a few near Thurso.

Ruins of Caithness Castle

Thurso is known for its fabulous surfing off the beach and harbour area and also nearby at Brims Ness. The town has a cinema and swimming pool. The local college is part of the University of the Highlands and Islands. The town has a sandy beach which can be accessed by steps from the car park at the small harbour / jetty. Thurso has a good range of shops within the town centre as well as a Tesco and Co-op stores.

Otter on Thurso beach

Photograph of otter on the beach at Thurso.

Coastal scene on the north coast 500 route at Thurso

Coastal view from the jetty at Thurso.


Interesting web pages on Thurso

Thurso castle

Old St Peter's Church

Lybster

Lybster Harbour Visitor Centre

The Lybster Harbour Visitor Centre is open to the public from May to September. The centre and café offers a Visit Scotland 4 star visitor attraction that allows you to explore the history of Lybster and Caithness, part of the exhibits have a small charge although you can see the outside herring and haddock smokie house for free. The café provides good value snacks and lunches.

Lybster Harbour - a north east fishing village

Lybster is a small village on the far north east of Scotland and was once a very busy fishing port for the herring fishing industry, as were many other villages and towns around the coast. This industry has long gone yet the fishing heritage still persists at Lybster with small locally owned fishing boats being used for lobster and crab fishing around the Caithness coastline.

The harbour also offers moorings for leisure boats and visiting yachts and as you can see from the photograph the inner harbour provides good shelter from the sometimes wild north sea.

Lybster Harbour Visitor Centre - Fishing Smoke House

Lybster Fishing Smoking Exhibit

Lybster

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Lodges and Caravans holidays in Scotland

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