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MISCELLANEOUS

Castles in Caithness (Google search)

Museums in Caithness (Google search)

 

Our Favourite Free Apps to use on site:

Vessel Finder  : Curious to know what the ship is you see in front of you? where is it going? where it's come from? 

Tides Near Me : If you want to know the low/high tide timetable.

Aurora Alerts : not quite an App but it's called The Glendale App. Ideal aurora conditions are a clear night sky but not in a full moon.

If you're a novice, also have a read of this article and especially scroll down to "What you See is NOT always what you Get". Good Luck!!

The Crofter's Snug is in Caithness county which sits in the north east chunk of Northern Scotland; bordered to the west and the south by Sutherland county. Unlike the rest of the region we don't have a mountainous wilderness here. Instead, low peatlands make up the bulk of the county - it's all about big skies and the spectacular coastline really. Ancient castles haunt the cliffs, Neolithic remains are dotted around and there’s a pervading sense of wilderness which we love. Historically the Vikings have had more influence in the area than the Scottish clans (Thurso is Thors river, Brims Ness is Surf Point etc).

The majority of visitors whizz round the NC500 but if you find yourself at The Crofter's Snug for more than a night or two, you'll be surprised at just how much there is to see and do in the area. We've earmarked the visitor attractions closest to your accommodation and will be adding to this page regularly as we become more and more familiar with the wider area ourselves so come back to check! Use the links below to find out more. 

Oh, and remember, the sun shines more than is commonly perceived up here in the Highlands but it's true what they say - the weather can sometimes give you four seasons in a day so make sure you come prepared! Sturdy footwear, layers and a good coat will see you right. As Bob Hope once said whilst playing a round of golf.... "If you don't like the weather in Scotland, just wait 20 minutes" :-)

Things to Do
Local Walks
Sunset Walk

We have a couple of lovely walks direct from the site. Turn left and you can find yourself at the quiet shoreline below the Castle of Mey - a little further takes you to Harrow Harbour. Alternatively turn right and at the end you can walk through the moorland down to St John's Point - a favourite vantage point for spotting sea life crossing the firth - or straight ahead to Scotland's Haven - a lovely bay. Click the More Info button for maps and details of other local walks. Enjoy!

There's also a website dedicated to the John O'Groats Trail at www.jogt.org.uk

Castle and Gardens of Mey
The Castle of Mey

Within walking distance from our site, The Castle of Mey - built c. 1570 and home to The Queen Mother from 1952 until 1996 when it was gifted to the Trust. A visit to the Castle offers an insight to her wonderful life here in Caithness. In addition to the castle, you can tour the romantic walled garden, visit the animal centre or the gift shop and tea room which can be found in the visitor centre. Click More Info for full details of days/opening times and visitor information. Free entry to cafe and shop.

Dunnet 
Dunnet Beach

Dunnet Beach - wow - it's vast! 2 miles long and only a 10-15 minute drive away. Dunnet Head is home to a lighthouse and an RSPB nature reserve and you'll find Dunnet Bay Distillery producing, amongst other labels, Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka.  Dunnet Forest is a community woodland covering over 100 hectares with trails for all ages and abilities. And that's not all. For a tiny place there is a lot to do in Dunnet!

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, Wick
Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

If castles are your thing, then maybe you'd also enjoy visiting Castle Sinclair Girnigoe. This one is a complete ruin though and located a 10 minute drive from the centre of Wick out towards the coast. There is a large car park then a 10 minute walk to the castle itself. It is located on the sea edge on the John O'Groats Trail. Another option would be to walk to it from Keiss beach. No charge for entry. Lots of info boards. It looks amazing in the sunshine and very atmospheric if the weather isn't being so kind! We absolutely love it.

John O'Groats
John O'Groats Sign

A selfie with the iconic signpost is an absolute must! A ten minute drive away and free to visit 24/7. There is a Tourist Information/Visitor Centre, 8 Doors Whisky Distrillery, John O'Groats Brewery, Post Office and small shop, gift shops etc. Various eateries are open during the day. A footpath runs all the way from John O'Groats to Duncansby Head/Stacks.

Duncansby Head 
Duncansby Stacks

It would be a shame to get as far as John O'Groats only to find out you'd missed out on the geological delight that forms the Duncansby Stacks. You can walk all the way from John O'Groats or drive the single track road behind the Seaview Hotel for a couple of miles to park at the lighthouse for a fabulous easy walk to the Stacks across the top of the cliffs. We first saw them on a misty day. Stunning - a 'must do' really!

Annie's Bakery
Annie's Bakery

A slight detour on your way to/from John O'Groats is well worth it for the array of breads and cakes etc Annie produces in her bakery. They are soooo delicious! Annie has created a sheltered cafe offering soups, sandwiches and more. Cafe open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday 10-2pm. We get lots of excellent feedback from guests :-). Make sure you use Google maps to find it - there's a windmill at their property if that helps!

Dunnet Head Lighthouse/ RSPB
Dunnet Head RSPB Reserve

Dunnet Head is a peninsular and the most northerly point of the Scottish mainland. The drive out to the lighthouse and RSPB Reserve is fabulous: beautiful and wild. It is home to razorbills, guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes and it's where we saw our first puffin! There is free access but donations are welcome. Lots of space to ramble and enjoy the views from the car park at the top of the sheer cliff face - 105m above sea level!

Orkney Coach Tour
Orkney Coach Tour

New for 2024 - various dates May to September: "You have the option to join the day trip by catching the ferry from Gills Bay (Pentland ferries) - 2 miles from The Crofter's Snug, where our coach will collect you from St Margaret’s Hope to start the tour. The crossing will take approximately an hour which is enough time to grab a refreshment on the ferry before arriving at the port.  Please make sure you are selecting the correct ticket as a standard Adults and Child's ticket does not include the ferry."

Orkney Trike Tours
Orkney Trike Tours

How different is this? - stand out from the crowd and arrive in style! Orkney Trike Tours offer an exclusive, exciting and unique way of exploring the beautiful islands of Orkney - for two people with the option of a set or bespoke tour. You can be picked up from the ferry (Kirkwall or St Margaret's Hope) and dropped off at a place convenient to you, so you can maximise your time on the beautiful islands of Orkney. Full waterproofs (if the weather is changeable) and helmets to keep you warm, safe and dry are supplied.

Orkney by car:
Gills Bay to St Margarets Hope
Pentland Ferries

Currently If you have the time, then extending your road trip to include Orkney Mainland will make a fantastic memory. (Mainland is the name of the largest island in the Orkneys). One hour each way, Pentland Ferries operate from Gills Bay harbour - a 5 minute drive from The Crofter's Snug. Two adults and a car (leaving 9.30am and returning 5pm) will cost c.£150. Check their website for confirmation of timetables, prices and further information.

Orkney by car: Scrabster to Stromness
NorthLink-Ferries-routes

The busy port of Stromness is Orkney’s main gateway. Dating from the 17th century, Stromness owes its origins to its excellent harbour. Today, visitors and residents alike can stroll through the cobbled streets enjoying the range of craft shops, views of the harbour and excellent dining opportunities. Northlink Ferries can also get you to the Shetland Islands. This was part of our amazing motorhome road trip in 2019 - see here.

Wild Swimming
The_Trinkie_Wick

Wild swimming enthusiasts will love The Trinkie - a mile or so outside Wick. The Trinkie (Scottish word for 'trench') is a coastal rock pool formed by the North Sea with stunning views. It was carved by volunteers in the 1930s from part of a disused quarry. The walks from here are fabulous too. Another option is the North Baths. Alternatively, if you fancy a ramble and a steep scramble down to the shore you can walk from The Crofter's Snug to Scotland's Haven.   And of course - there's always Dunnet Bay. Enjoy ....rather you than us!

Coastline RIB Tour
Caithness Sea Tours

Would you like a different vantage point of the coastline? Caithness Seacoast Ltd was started in 2008 by local couple William and Adelaine Munro. The arrival of a new modern marina in Wick Harbour provided the inspiration to start their tour boat company. They operate 1st April to 31st October and offer various options to suit your budget and timetable. Family friendly, the boat seats 12 and is similar to new in-shore RNLI lifeboats. Excellent feedback from guests. Go on... book an adventure!

Fly Fishing St John's Loch
Fish Icon

We know nothing at all about fishing! but... hopefully these links, as well as the More Info button, will help.... All fishing is either Fly or Sea fishing - no coarse fishing. Further info regarding fishing in Caithness can be found at www.caithness.org/fishing/ and www.nc500fishing.com/caithness-fishing.asp If sea fishing is your thing, then check out www.britishseafishing.co.uk/east-coast-of-scotland/  and finally!.... www.nc500fishing.com/nc500-fishing-map-features.asp

North Coast Explorer
North-Coast-Explorer

Our neighbours at North Coast Explorer offer bespoke tours going off the beaten track and bringing to life the history often missed on your standard excursions. North Coast Explorer can provide day tours of Caithness, as well as tours further afield, and are happy to tailor the day to suit your needs. Rob is an absolute fount of local knowledge! Booking in advance is essential.

Surfing/ Paddleboarding
North coast watersports

You might be surprised to find that Thurso is known worldwide for its surf. Northcoast Watersports run the majority of their lessons from Dunnet Bay which is only 15 minutes away. The instructors are very experienced and fully ISA trained. Iona is the current ladies Scottish Champion and Finn is a previous Under 18s champion. Go on.... give it a go - you know you've always wanted to! 

Thurso Parkrun
Thurso Parkrun

Parkrun is a collection of 5-kilometre events for walkers, runners and volunteers that take place every Saturday morning at more than 2,000 locations in 22 countries across five continents. . The closest to us takes place in Thurso - see more info - and is the most northerly Parkrun event in Scotland. We plan to do it.... one day! Wikepedia Factoid: Parkrun was founded by Paul Sinton-Hewitt on 2 October 2004 at Bushy Park in London, England.

Petting Farm
Screenshot%202021-04-18%20at%2016.51_edi

For big kids, little kids and animal lovers everywhere! Puffin Croft Petting Farm is on the road opposite the Post Office in John O'Groats and has been awarded a 3-star Visit Scotland visitor attraction and as one reviewer said, "it's a lovely place to bring the kids to spend time with friendly animals and good value for money. There's also a little shop to buy fresh veggies and homemade food stuff."  

Lichen Reindeer Caithness, near Halkirk
 
Lichen_Reindeer_Caithness

Lichen Caithness is home to Sven, Levvi and Mr Antlers, the UK’s most northerly reindeer according to owners of the Halkirk attraction. The furry residents are the stars of the centre’s daily reindeer experiences, which give visitors the chance to learn about their original habitat, food sources, and climate-specific adaptations. Visitors can also feed the hoofed inhabitants with reindeer moss, as well as being enjoy a deluxe hot chocolate with marshmallows toasted over a fire or in a Nordic-style Kota hut.

Castlehill Hertitage Centre
Castlehill Heritage Centre

To find out more about the history of our nearest village and its surrounding area, then a visit to this community run heritage centre is a must.  Themed exhibitions are held throughout the year featuring the history, heritage, biodiversity and social history of Castletown (often referred to as the flagstone village) and the parish of Olrig. It is located within renovated seventeenth century farm buildings. Open Sundays 1.30-4.30pm. A couple of short walks worth doing here too!

Mary Ann's Cottage
mary-anns-cottage

Not far off the road near Dunnet, this traditional croft, built c.1850, was lived in for most of her life by Mary-Ann Calder until 1990. The cottage has been preserved and is very much as it was in the 1930's. It's now owned by the Caithness Heritage Trust who provide guided tours of the cottage from May to September from 2pm to 4.30pm (closed on Mondays). There is a small charge for viewing the croft.. 

Venture North - Tourism Website
Venture North Tourist Map

The far north of Scotland has been named as one of Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel” destinations for 2024. The region, which includes Caithness and Sutherland, is one of only two UK locations to feature on the coveted annual list from the travel guide. Venture North is a tourism website dedicated specifically to our region and is a terrific resource to help you organise your road trip both before and during your stay. Fyi, The Crofter's Snug is situated in "North Caithness".

NC500 Tourism Website
NC500 map

Lots of info with an interactive map to help plan your adventure.. The History, Heritage and Archaeology and the Luxury itinerary are available to view fully, however to unlock the full NC500 itineraries, you will need to become a member (from just £15 a year) and each package offers a range of key benefits and exclusive deals to get the most of your NC500 holiday.

Distillery Visits
Distilleries

15 minutes away you'll find Dunnet Bay Distillers who make Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka and offer a visitor experience at varying times for c.£10pp (age 8+) - closed Sundays. For Whisky lovers there is the new 8 Doors Distillery in John O'Groats which has a lovely cafe and gift shop as well as offering tours - open daily from 10am. You can also tour the distilleries for Wolfburn, the most northerly distillery on your way out of Thurso if you're heading west, and Old Pulteney in Wick.

Wick Heritage Museum
Wick Museum

In Wick you'll find this fabulous museum hidden away near the harbour. It is an absolute rabbit warren of discovery showcasing hundreds of artefacts and photographs of Wick's development and herring fishing heritage. It also has fully furnished household rooms portraying past life and times containing a vast array of household items and furnishings. Just wonderful - we loved it - so much social history. Open Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm (last entry 3.45). Saturday 11am to 3pm.

Halkirk Heritage Museum, Halkirk
Halkirk Motor Museum

We haven't been ourselves (tut tut) but by all accounts the Halkirk Heritage and Vintage Motor Centre holds a really wonderful collection of vintage cars and related memorabilia, as well as other historic artefacts, information and photos relating to Halkirk. Edward Sutherland, who ran a garage business in Halkirk was a well-known vintage and classic vehicle enthusiast. He was a founding member but sadly died in 2019 before his ambition to open the centre could be fulfilled. Click More Info for link to website and opening times. Staffed by volunteers, free admission but donations welcome.

North Coast Visitor Centre Thurso
North-Coast-Visitor-Centre Thurso

Set in the former Thurso Town Hall and Carnegie Library, the Visitor Centre has been extensively refurbished and houses a magnificent collection laying out the history of Caithness and the Dounreay Exhibition. The centre has a cafe, art gallery, shop and much more. Click More Info for link to website and opening times.

CC Chocolatier
Bower
Chocolatier

Satisfy your sweet tooth!! Chocolate Shop & Chocolate Courses. Luxurious chocolates, handmade in Caithness. A wonderful experience for all the family even if the chocolates you make only last five minutes! Get creative in a professional kitchen with hands on chocolatier experience! c.20 minute drive from The Crofter's Snug.

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