GUIDE: Local Info

Planning days out

Look up Caithness, Wick or the North Coast 500 on:

These apps are all on the tablet in the Cottage

If you prefer books then check out

(Transparency: If you buy from these links you will be supporting independent bookshops and we get a small commission)

Events

Adventures, tours and experiences

We know some of these businesses have plans to re-open this summer – check their websites for details.

Outdoors and open

Caithness is blessed with a lot of free and low-cost outdoor places to visit – blow those cobwebs away!

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe is in walking distance of the Cottage
Castle Sinclair Girnigoe is in walking distance of the Cottage

In walking distance

Grab some binoculars, put on your boots and explore nearby. Go rock-pooling on Sandigoe Beach – if you see seals, please watch from a distance – you’ll stress them less and see them for longer. You can see Castle Sinclair Girnigoe from the Kitchen window, and if you spend time watching the birds on the cliffs at any time you may spot a couple of puffins.

Noss Head Lighthouse from the sea - credit: David Bremner
The headland at Noss Head – credit: David Bremner

Around the Headland

This walk takes two to three hours. If you do it clockwise, you start by going through the walled garden (remember to shut the gates) and follow the route of the John o’Groats trail down along the coast down to Staxigoe harbour (at one time Britain’s largest place for processing Herrings). You come back up to the lighthouse along the road, going past the war memorial, the airport, the new  new switching station and the old WW2 buildings.

Headland

The Dunnet Day out

A horse with a rider and someone walking by it on Dunnet Beach
Dunnet Beach

Dunnet Head is the UK Mainland’s most northerly point (further North than John o’Groats. Take some binoculars to watch the puffins on the cliffs by the lighthouse. While you are there, take a wee walk, and admire the 360° views – Orkney to your North and the whole of the UK to your South. When the tide is out, pick up some shells or sea-china on Dunnet Beach. Explore Dunnet Forrest – look out for the sculptures!  You can do this quickly in a morning, or take your time and spend a day on it.

Broch Dun Dornaigil, Sutherland
Broch Dun Dornaigil, Sutherland

A Day out in the Iron Age

Caithness had a large and thriving community of master builders when the Romans were building Hadrian’s Wall.  Explore Iron Age Caithness a walk down to Occumster broch, and by following the Yarrows archaeological trail with a visit to Camster Cairns and the Hill o’ Many Stanes. Other brochs are (A9 towards Lybster, back end of Tongue). Find out more from the Caithness Broch Project website.

Half a day around John o’Groats

John o’Groats is the famous far end of the trail from Land’s End. If the cafes and shops are closed, you can still take a selfie by the sign. But John o’Groats is neither the most northerly point of the UK (that’s Dunnet Head) nor the most north-easterly (that’s Duncansby). Be sure to go to Duncansby and take photos of the conical sea-stacks, they’re something special even by the high standards of the sea stacks that surround the Caithness coast. Check to see if the petting farm at Puffin Croft is open – don’t forget to take some cash with you for Cara’s honesty box – it helps her pay for vet bills and animal feed.

A day of Castles and Abbeys

Our nearest castle is of course Castle Sinclair Girnigoe which you can see from the kitchen window and walk to from the cottage. Then there’s the Castle of Old Wick – Scotland’s oldest castle. It’s square and solid and built just a few hundred years after the last of the round tower Brochs. You can’t visit Keiss Castle from the road, but you can see it from Keiss Beach. Thurso has St Peter’s Church and Brims Castle both of which are great for moody photographs.  Check to see if the ground are open at the Queen Mother’s Castle of Mey to the north and at Dunrobin Castle to the south. Again, this is half a day done quickly, or a day done more slowly.

Waves breaking on Keiss Beach, Inverness
Keiss Beach

Caithness’s amazing Beaches

Caithness has almost too many beaches to mention. The nearest is Sandigoe, go rockpooling there and look out for the remains of the metal-works you can see in the photos of the Dishon family in the hall. You can see Keiss and Reiss from the kitchen window; they’re lovely long sandy beaches which are great for exercising your dog or flying a kite. Dunnet has impressive rollers and is a good beach for walks and beach-combing. Peedie Sands is tucked away below the House of the Northern Gate. Stay safe, and check your tide times. If the tide is in, then visit our pre-historic beach at xxxx quarry – if you are lucky you may find a fossilised fish!

Enjoy family meals in our large dining room
Eating In

Eating in

Local fine foods and drink

J A Mackay in Thurso
local fine foods and drinks – great for a treat and great for gifts
4 Traill St,
Thurso
KW14 8EJ

Bin Ends in Wick
have connoisseur’s collection of local and international wines and spirits
2 River St,
Wick
KW1 5EA

Groceries

Co-op
Angle Park
Thurso Road
Wick
KW1 5LW

Lidl
South Road
Wick
KW1 5NH

Tesco 
North Rd
Wick
KW1 4QS

Tesco Online
Have a click and collect service at the Wick superstore and will deliver to:
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage, Noss Head, KW1 4QT

Takeaways

Check Tripadvisor and / or Facebook for the latest on who’s reopened and who hasn’t yet.

Eating Out

It’s hard for us to keep up with who’s re-opened, so check out Tripadvisor for the latest updates and reviews.

We like to give special mentions to The Trawler in Golspie, The River Bothy in Berriedale, Whaligoe Steps Café, Mackays Hotel  in Wick, and Stacks Bistro at John o’Groats and The Captain’s Galley at Scrabster. But there are lots of other places we’ve not tried ourselves


 

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