Cruise Directory

Scrabster Harbour (Sea Angling) (0 Miles)
Scrabster Harbour (Sea Angling)
Description

Scrabster is famous for its tremendous sea angling off the Caithness and Orkney coastline. There are charter boats are available from Scrabster and can cater for short charters to suit your specialist requirements.

Sea angling from a charter boat has several distinct advantages, the most important being that the skipper can take you various locations where the fish are known to be, and if they are not biting you simply move somewhere else.

The range of species to be caught off the Caithness coast is good with good sized cod, ling, pollock, flat fish, mackerel and other species readily available.

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Wolfburn Distillery (1 Miles)
Wolfburn Distillery
Description

Wolfburn distillery appears on the first Ordnance Survey map of the area, dated 1872, marked as a ruin. The reasons for its demise are unclear - very little remains of the original distillery. However, records of its annual production volumes of whisky can be found in tax returns, which show it producing 28,056 “Total Gallons of Proof Spirit” during 1826 (roughly 125,000 litres) – making it the biggest distillery in Caithness at the time.

Such was the demand for ‘uisge beatha’ (‘the water of life’) by the locals, few if any bottles made it down the rutted road to Scrabster and on to the capital’s Georgian drinking houses and if any did, none remain.

Using both un-peated and peated malt the stillmen of Wolfburn distillery today are crafting the latest incarnation of Wolfburn whisky from a blank canvas by pot still distillation the old way; no automation, no rush and a lot of care. A variety of casks continue to be filled with new Wolfburn spirit and are laid down in the warehouses to mature.

Tours must be arranged prior to visit as they do not yet have a Visitors Centre.

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Caithness Horizons Museum (1.9 Miles)
Caithness Horizons Museum
Description

Caithness Horizons Museum is fully accredited and recognised as a VisitScotland 5* Museum.

The magnificently restored building houses a permanent exhibition which uncovers the story of mankind's past and present interaction with the environment of north east Scotland. A gallery houses temporary exhibitions including the display of work by local artists.

Commanding attention on arrival are the newly returned Skinnet and Ulbster standing stones, which have undergone two years' intensive restoration in Edinburgh and now reveal significant new Pictish carvings.

A series of themed displays bring to life the fascinating heritage of Caithness. Highlights include archaeological objects that date from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages and relate to the lives of the Broch dwellers, Picts and Vikings that made Caithness their home.

Caithness Horizons takes visitors on a truly remarkable journey into all that Caithness has to offer. There is a cafe and gift shop onsite to ensure visitors have a fully enjoyable experience.

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Thurso River (Salmon Fishing) (2 Miles)
Thurso River (Salmon Fishing)
Description

The Thurso is among the best salmon rivers in the north and is often coupled with the Helmsdale and Naver. It enjoys a long productive season, from 11th January to 5th October, and fish can be caught during every month. Currently the river fishes best from March to October with the larger catches occurring from July to the end of the season.

On average the river produces around 2000 salmon per year and fishing is by fly only. In recent years the catch has been rising and, as can be seen from the chart overleaf, numbers of early running fish are increasing. This is of interest in that, historically, the Thurso offered some of the earliest and best spring fishing in Scotland.

Some heavy fish have been caught on the Thurso, with fish of 47 lbs, 44 lbs and 36 lbs being taken during the 1920s. Nowadays, the vast majority of spring fish exceed 10 lbs and in 2008, fish of 25lbs were taken.

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Thurso Golf Club (3 Miles)
Thurso Golf Club
Description

A warm welcome awaits you at Thurso Golf Club, the most northerly 18-hole course on the British mainland.

The tree lined parkland course offers golfers of all abilities an excellent challenge. There are lush fairways, generous well-manicured greens as well as some beautiful whin bushes which you do not want to go in! After your round, you can enjoy a refreshing drink in their comfortable lounge bar which boasts magnificent views over the course.

Thurso Golf Club has been in existence for over 100 years but the golf course has moved locations during that time. The present course was established as a 9-hole in 1921 and was extended to 18 holes in 1963. Over 100,000 trees have been planted which gives the course a parkland feel. Because it is located on a hill above Thurso, several holes are tough tests into a prevailing wind. The signature hole is the 13th over a burn with heather on the left and the rough on the right. The green is drivable but with a strong wind against the fairway is sometimes out of reach. The 15th green has a fine view of the Pentland Firth, Orkney and Dunnet Head

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Castlehill Heritage Centre (5 Miles)
Castlehill Heritage Centre
Description

Castlehill Heritage Centre is located within renovated farm buildings immediately adjacent to the cutting yard and quarry of the now defunct flagstone workings. The workings were the first in the country to exploit the commercial possibilities of flagstone and in doing so put Castletown on the global map.

Over the years Castletown Heritage has amassed a significant collection of local artefacts reflecting the archaeological, social, commercial and industrial heritage of our parish, ranging from single pieces to lifetime collections by local people - from fossils to photographs, matchboxes to mangles.

The Castlehill Heritage Centre builds on earlier achievements - visitors can walk around the Heritage Trail which outlines the stages of the production of the stone, while an adjoining Sculpture Trail within the community woodland, demonstrates some artistic uses of the material.

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Kaithness Clays (7.6 Miles)
Kaithness Clays
Description

Kaithness Clays is an established Skeet Shooting Range, which has a picturesque backdrop of the Pentland Firth.

It is situated on the foreshore below what used to be the Old American Naval Base. It is now known as Forss Business Park, and is approximately 7 miles from Thurso heading west on the A86.

The Skeet Shooting Range is operated by KC Mackay and caters for the total beginner to the advanced clay pigeon shooter. Down The Line & Compak Sporting is also available.

The range is normally open on weekends. Corporate/fun days are available week days by prior arrangement.

Kaithness Clays holds all the relevant paperwork to operate this shooting range.

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Halkirk Games (7.9 Miles)
Halkirk Games
Description

The Halkirk Highland Games, is the premiere sporting event in the North of Scotland. The prize money of over £20,000 is one the best in Scotland and attracts the country’s best amateur and professional competitors. It is always held on the last Saturday in July and attracts crowds of up to 3,000.

The 2017 Games will be held on Saturday 29th July 2017.

There are nearly 100 events packed into an afternoon and it is the Scottish version of a mini Olympic Games! There are normally dozens of competitors from all over the country and often from abroad. The “Heavies” are the kilted strongmen who toss massive wooden cabers, throw scots hammers and weights and putt the shot. A sight not to be missed. There are pipers, Highland dancers, track and field athletes, cyclists, clay pigeon shooters and children, all competing for top prizes. Spectators are kept informed of all the action by both our roving commentator and announcer. Surrounding the arena are entertaining side-stalls, charity stalls, a thrilling fun fair, plus food and drink stalls/marquees.

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Dunnet Bay Distillers (8 Miles)
Dunnet Bay Distillers
Description

Located in the spectacular bay of Dunnet, where the freshest of air and the finest of water are in abundance. Their goal is to create spirits which reflect the Caithness way. They hand distil slowly, thoughtfully and passionately to create their exceptional products.

Working with the oldest still makers in the world their bespoke pot still, Elizabeth, has been uniquely designed just to create their spirits. Using a traditional handmade copper head along with botanical vapour basket, it is a small batch process of 500 litres. This ensures tremendous care can be applied to achieve best results. Each bottle is filled, hand-waxed, batch numbered and signed before it leaves the distillery.

The new Visitor Centre opens in May 2017.

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Reay Golf Club (10 Miles)
Reay Golf Club
Description

Reay Golf Club lies on the edge of Sandside Bay in the far north of Scotland and offers panoramic views of the Pentland Firth and North Atlantic from every hole on the course.

The course is a true example of a links course, as you would expect when the legendary James Braid had a hand in its design. Its exposed location and the typical challenging conditions call for real shot making, from punched long irons, little bump and runs to hitting under the wind. This is how the game started and what real golf is all about.

The renowned golf course architect Donald Steele is quoted as saying of Reay, “In a different location, it would enjoy worldwide acclaim.” But it is precisely the location that gives the course at Reay its great distinction, as the most northernly18 hole links course on the British mainland.

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Mary-Ann's Cottage (11.2 Miles)
Mary-Ann's Cottage
Description

In 1990, Mary-Ann Calder moved from her life-long home at Westside Croft, Dunnet to a Wick nursing home.

Her grandfather John Young, had built the cottage in 1850, and the croft was successively worked by him, his son William, and finally his grand-daughter, Mary-Ann and her husband James Calder. Over the three generations the way of life and working practices had continued largely unaltered.

When the time came for Mary-Ann to leave, because of its historic nature she sought to have the croft preserved as it was. However, the property was required to be sold to provide for the costs of Mary-Ann's residence in the nursing home and so the Caithness Heritage Trust was set up with the primary aim of acquiring and preserving the cottage.

Thankfully the cottage was bought and preserved so that visitors can experience a small taste of Croft life.

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Dunnet Head/Lighthouse (15 Miles)
Dunnet Head/Lighthouse
Description

As you arrive at Scrabster you will see the most northerly point in mainland Britain in the distance, Dunnet Head has stunning sea cliffs and coastal grassland. The views from Dunnet Head are spectacular, as are the bird life, home to puffins, razorbills, guillemots, fulmars, kittiwakes, shags and cormorants. Above the cliffs are some very diverse coastal heathland and grassland habitats with special plants such as spring squill, thrift and roseroot.

Of strategic importance during World War II, Dunnet Head has several old military buildings still standing on site.

The RSPB started to manage this site in May 2008 and, as yet, there are no visitor facilities beyond the car park and some interpretation panels.

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The Royal Castle of Mey (15.5 Miles)
The Royal Castle of Mey
Description

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother first saw what was then Barrogill Castle in 1952, while mourning the death of her husband, King George VI.

Falling for its isolated charm and hearing it was to be abandoned, she decided to save it.

Having acquired the most northerly inhabited castle on the British mainland, The Queen Mother renovated and restored it and created the beautiful gardens you see today. For almost half a century she spent many happy summers here and shorter visits at other times of the year.

Still frequented by His Royal Highness, The Prince Charles Duke of Rothesay, the castle is steeped in history and heritage.

The Castle and Gardens of Mey have held Visit Scotland's highest award of a 5 Star quality assurance grading every year since their first unannounced visit in 2007. The guides in the castle will do all they can to make your visit interesting and enjoyable and are happy to answer any questions you may have.

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Ackergill Tower (20 Miles)
Ackergill Tower
Description

For more than 600 years, Ackergill Tower has stood majestically above the rugged shoreline at Sinclair Bay on the northernmost tip of Scotland. It is one of the remotest, most romantic settings in the entire British Isles.

Steeped in history, yet with 21st century luxuries and five star, award-winning service awaiting you, the castle and its 3,000 acre private estate will delight and inspire you. From the Tower’s stout granite walls, to Europe’s largest treehouse with a bedroom, discover what makes Ackergill Tower the jewel in the Highlands and enjoy a short stopover for tea and the finest home baked cakes.

It will be a visit that will shine brightly in memories for many years to come.

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John O Groats (20 Miles)
John O Groats
Description

John O’Groats is famous for being the ‘End of the road’ for many on the Lands End to John o’ Groats trail.

John O’Groats is a fantastic, unspoilt location from which the adventurous can see the wonderful landscape and wildlife that is so special to this area and is the real star of the show. For the less adventurous there is still plenty to do and see at ‘the end of the road’.

With a choice of local craft and gift shops it is also home to John o’ Groats brewery, the ales of which can be tasted in the well-stocked bar at the Seaview Hotel. With various restaurants serving fine fare to satisfy the hunger brought on by the fresh sea air that is all around you.

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Seacoast Boat Tours (20 Miles)
Seacoast Boat Tours
Description

The “Geo Explorer” is 10m (33ft) long Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB), with family friendly seating and is licensed to carry twelve passengers. The boat is similar to the new inshore RNLI lifeboats. It can cruise at speeds of 26 knots (30mph), sea/weather conditions permitting.

They are licensed to operate 20 miles from a safe haven, in good weather, 24 hours a day. Safety equipment meets the Maritime and Coastguard Agency regulations.

With Private Charter, you can travel with friends or family and choose your own destination as long as it is within our operating range. We tailor each charter to your individual requirements. All you need is warm clothing and a sense of adventure.

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Stacks of Duncansby (20 Miles)
Stacks of Duncansby
Description

The Stacks of Duncansby are some of the most impressive in the British Isles. The Great Stack is over 60 m high and rises above the summit of the adjacent cliff. A short walk from the nearby Duncansby Head Lighthouse, which sits on the North-East corner of mainland Britain. The views are spectacular!

Walk along by the fence and look down into the geos and wildlife, during breeding season you will be rewarded with seabird city! There are abundant Fulmars, kittiewake, guiliemots, razorbills, puffin and the infamous Skua. The well-trodden Path goes along cliff, past stacks and further along where there are brilliant views over cliffs.

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Old Pulteney Distillery (22 Miles)
Old Pulteney Distillery
Description

Wick was once known as the herring capital of Europe. Yet while the herring shoals may be long gone from this rugged northern coastline, the spirit of that seafaring past lives on in the form of Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch Whisky - long renowned as The Maritime Malt.

Throughout the long and eventful history of Pulteney Distillery, the quality of both the whisky and the process by which it is made remains a source of pride. The traditional craftsmanship deployed when the distillery first opened its doors in 1826 is what continues to characterise Old Pulteney single malt Scotch whisky nearly two centuries later.

The Pulteney Distillery offer a range of behind-the-scenes tours to allow you to experience their unique location for yourself. There is a standard tour with a dram of their definitive 12 year old and for additional cost you’ll be treated to a taste of their outstanding 17 year-old and 21 year-old expressions.

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Wick Heritage Centre (22.8 Miles)
Wick Heritage Centre
Description

The Wick Heritage Centre is a local history museum which presents the story of the town.

The Wick Heritage Centre houses a fish kiln, a cooperage, a restored fisherman’s house, art gallery, the famous Johnston collection of photographs of 115 years history of Wick covering a time when Wick was the herring capital of Europe, a working lighthouse and a harbour setting.

The Centre is designed to gradually lead you through all aspects of life in the town. The contents run to many thousands of items in rooms and cases. Even more is held in storage and shown from time to time. A massive collection of photographs over half of which is derived from the Johnson collection.

As with so much of this incredible museum the depth and range of items is staggering. Most of the items are on loan from local people and families.

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Whaligoe Steps and the Cairn O' Get (25 Miles)
Whaligoe Steps and the Cairn O' Get
Description

'Whaligoe Steps' is the name of a man-made stairway of 365 steps that descend to what was a naturally formed harbour between two sea cliffs - once a landing place for fishing boats. The steps are located just south of the town of Wick in Caithness on Scotland's most northeasterly coast. They date originally from the mid-18th century and were once used by fisherwomen to haul up the creels of herring landed at the harbour beneath. Crews of women, some in their early seventies, would gut the fish — Herring, cod, Haddock, or Ling — and would carry them up the steps in baskets to be taken on foot to be sold in Wick, some 7 to 8 miles away.

Inland and close by is the Cairn O’ Get, a very well preserved chambered cairn. About 5,000 years ago, this chambered cairn was a sacred place for ancestral spirits where the living gathered to seek the help of the dead.

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Waterlines Heritage Centre (26.3 Miles)
Waterlines Heritage Centre
Description

Lybster Harbour was one of the top herring ports during the ‘herring boom’ and the story of that time is told within the beautifully restored buildings which house a visitor centre, an exhibition full of information, hands on activities, refreshments and facilities which offer something for everyone.

There's so much to see and do in the exhibition that afterwards you'll want to relax with some refreshments, and just absorb the whole atmosphere and ambience of the harbour. If the weather is favourable there's no better place than the flagstone terrace. We hope you enjoy your visit and remember it with great fondness.

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Forsinard Nature Reserve (29 Miles)
Forsinard Nature Reserve
Description

Peatlands have vanished across much of Scotland as they are being threatened by development, but the RSPB is helping to preserve and restore this vital area of internationally important habitat. Summer is the best time of year to visit, when golden plovers, hen harriers and greenshanks breed.

As the largest of the RSPB reserves, we manage a vast peatland landscape which visitors can experience by exploring one of our two self-guided trails or joining one of our guided walks. The new Flows Lookout Tower gives a unique perspective of the pool system on our Dubh Lochan Trail, which is a classic example of the type of pools that are found throughout the Flow Country.

The Dubh Lochan Trail is the best way for families to explore the reserve and to learn about what makes blanket bogs special. Follow the boardwalk up to the Flows Lookout Tower and then venture off onto the flagstone discovery trail that snakes through the pool systems.

Don't forget to stop off at our visitor centre too! It contains local information, a peatland exhibition and multimedia film, light refreshments and toilet facilities.

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Dunbeath Heritage Centre (29.6 Miles)
Dunbeath Heritage Centre
Description

Discover the heritage, history and culture of Dunbeath at the Dunbeath Heritage Centre, birthplace of world famous author Neil M Gunn.

‘These small straths, like the Strath of Dunbeath, have this intimate beauty. In boyhood we get to know every square yard of it. ‘ - Neil M Gunn, 1941

The Dunbeath Heritage Centre is a fascinating exhibition of manuscripts, photographs and data, relating to the heritage of Dunbeath. The centre provides a thought-provoking and detailed look at the history of the Highlands and the experience of one small area. Explore family archives and enjoy an audiovisual programme full of fascinating facts and details.

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Badbea Clearance Village (35 Miles)
Badbea Clearance Village
Description

Badbea (pronounced bad-bay) is a former clearance village perched on the steep slopes above the cliff tops of Berriedale on the east coast of Caithness, Scotland. Situated around 5 miles (8 km) north of Helmsdale, the village was settled in the 18th and 19th centuries by families evicted from their homes when the straths of Langwell, Ousdale and Berriedale were cleared for the establishment of sheep farms.

Life was harsh, each house had its own spinning wheel, and all the women learned to spin and card. The men mainly worked as herring fishermen from nearby Berriedale and the women gutted the fish that were caught. While the women worked, their livestock, and even their children, were tethered to rocks or posts to prevent them from being blown over the cliffs or into the sea by the fierce winds.

The last resident left the village in 1911 and a monument was erected by the son of former inhabitant, Alexander Robert Sutherland, who had emigrated to New Zealand in 1839. Today, the ruins of the village are preserved as a tourist attraction and memorial to the Highland Clearances.

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Strathnaver Museum (40 Miles)
Strathnaver Museum
Description

Just a short walk from the white sandy beach at Farr Bay you will find a hidden gem of a Museum housed in the former parish church of St Columba.

Laid out within its unassuming walls is a treasure trove of unusual objects and gripping stories all presented by a friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteer staff.

Serving Mackay Country, the Museum is also home to a wonderful collection of Mackay memorabilia belonging to the Clan Mackay Society, making it a must see for anyone of Mackay descent or interested in Clan Mackay.

Located in the ancient province of Strathnaver, scene of some of the most brutal acts of the Highland Clearances, it is unsurprising that this is the main story told by the Museum. In fact it was from the very pulpit which dominates the centre of the Museum that the Rev. David Mackenzie was obliged to read out the eviction notices to his congregation.

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Dunrobin Castle (50 Miles)
Dunrobin Castle
Description

Dunrobin Castle is the most northerly of Scotland's great houses and the largest in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms. Dunrobin Castle is also one of Britain's oldest continuously inhabited houses dating back to the early 1300s, home to the Earls and later, the Dukes of Sutherland. It is the family seat for the Clan Sutherland.

The Castle, which resembles a French chateâu with its towering conical spires, has seen the architectural influences of Sir Charles Barry, who designed London’s Houses of Parliament, and Scotland’s own Sir Robert Lorimer.

The French influence extends into the gardens, completed in 1850, with Barry taking inspiration from the French formal style of the Gardens of Versailles. Each parterre is set around a circular pool with a fountain, with the essential layout the same since it was created in around 1848. The total landscaped area is 1,379 acres (558 ha).

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Title Distance from Scrabster Max Party Numbers Toilet Facilities Disabled Access Catering Available
Scrabster Harbour (Sea Angling) 0 Miles n/a YES NO NO
Wolfburn Distillery 1 Miles 10max/60mins YES YES YES
Caithness Horizons Museum 1.9 Miles n/a YES YES YES
Thurso River (Salmon Fishing) 2 Miles n/a NO NO NO
Thurso Golf Club 3 Miles n/a YES NO YES
Castlehill Heritage Centre 5 Miles n/a YES NO NO
Kaithness Clays 7.6 Miles n/a YES YES NO
Halkirk Games 7.9 Miles n/a YES YES YES
Dunnet Bay Distillers 8 Miles 15/45mins YES YES YES
Reay Golf Club 10 Miles n/a YES NO YES
Mary-Ann's Cottage 11.2 Miles n/a YES YES NO
Dunnet Head/Lighthouse 15 Miles n/a NO NO NO
The Royal Castle of Mey 15.5 Miles 50/30Mins YES LIMITED YES
Ackergill Tower 20 Miles n/a YES YES YES
John O Groats 20 Miles n/a YES NO YES
Seacoast Boat Tours 20 Miles 12 YES NO NO
Stacks of Duncansby 20 Miles n/a NO NO NO
Old Pulteney Distillery 22 Miles 40 per tour YES YES YES
Wick Heritage Centre 22.8 Miles 45 YES YES NO
Whaligoe Steps and the Cairn O' Get 25 Miles n/a YES NO YES
Waterlines Heritage Centre 26.3 Miles n/a YES YES YES
Forsinard Nature Reserve 29 Miles n/a YES YES YES
Dunbeath Heritage Centre 29.6 Miles n/a YES YES NO
Badbea Clearance Village 35 Miles n/a NO NO NO
Strathnaver Museum 40 Miles 50max YES NO YES
Dunrobin Castle 50 Miles n/a YES YES YES