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John O'Groats

If you still feel inclined to visit this old tourist trap, then that's your prerogative, but don't say we didn't warn you. It's kind of boring at best and pretty miserable most of the time. It gets its name from the Dutchman Jan de Groot, who was commissioned by King James IV to run a ferry service to Orkney in 1496. Ferries still operate from here to Burwick in Orkney (see Transport below). There's a Tourist Information Centre here (Tel. 611373, open April-October Monday-Saturday 0900-1700), as well as a post office, craft shops and a chippie.

John O'Groats was handed the Carbuncle Award in 2010 for being the most dismal place in Scotland.

Two miles east of John O'Groats is Duncansby Head, which is far more rewarding. South of the headland a path leads to the spectacular Duncansby Stacks, a series of dramatic rock formations. The 200-ft cliffs are home to countless seabirds and you can see the narrow, sheer-sided inlets known locally as geos.

Phone code: +44 (0)1955


There are Orkney Islands Day Tours, which leave daily 1 May-30 Sep at 0900, and return at 1945. A shorter day tour departs daily from 1 Jun-2 Sep 1030, and returns at 1800. There's also a wildlife cruise 20 Jun-31 Aug, which departs at 1430. Contact: John O'Groats Ferries, Ferry Office, John O'Groats, Tel. 611353, Fax. 611301, Tours also leave from Inverness.

Travel Directions to John O'Groats

There are buses to John O'Groats from Thurso, and from Wick (5 daily Mon-Fri, 4 on Sat) with Highland Country Buses.

Ferries to Burwick (Orkney) sail twice daily from May to September (45 mins). A connecting bus takes passengers on to Kirkwall (40 mins).

John O'Groats Hotels & Accommodation

John O'Groats House Hotel, Tel. 611203, which has a restaurant. There are also several B&Bs, including the very decent Bencorragh House, at Upper Gills in Canisbay, a few miles west, T611449, open Mar-Oct. Also in Canisbay is the SYHA Youth Hostel, open 19 Mar-31 Oct. There are a couple of campsites, at John O'Groats and further west by the beach at Huna. The tourist office will help you find accommodation.