Scotland Day 5: Dunnet Head & Keiss


23rd March | The most northerly point of mainland Britain

07:50 | 9ºC, blue sky, light breeze, dry.

After a good nights sleep I feel a bit better this morning; my eyes are not dry and heavy and I feel somewhat refreshed. Another good night tonight should do it. The buffet breakfast was good and, of course, I had far too much of it, avoiding all the stuff I should have eaten – fruit, cereal – in favour of bacon, sausage, eggs… you get the picture.

The plan today is to drive along to John O’Groats to do tourist stuff, then spend some time at Dunnet Head, which is the most northerly part of mainland Britain. All of that will only take us to lunchtime so we have time to explore or visit another place of interest – not sure what yet.

Dunnet Head


We set off from Castletown at 10:13 and as we turned off the main road to head up to Dunnet Head we were just about the only vehicle on a long and desolate track. We were parked at 10:31 and boy, had the weather changed. It was like the lighthouse was in a different weather zone, with heavy cloud and temperatures more respectful of the location.

We were at the most northerly point in mainland Britain, so a selfie was pretty much obligatory

Driving to Dunnet Head flat like an adventure: the most northerly point on mainland Britain. That is quite something. The lighthouse was worthy of photography but the coastal scenery was pretty dramatic too, with what I understand to be amongst the oldest rocks in Britain – if the the oldest.

Duncansby Head

From one lighthouse to another…


Arrived at John O’Groats, but did not venture into the village itself, fearing it would be a bit of a tourist trap. To be honest, we found little of any great interest but I drove on up a rocky road to where, in the distance, we could see another lighthouse at Duncansby Head. This was, I suppose, the north-eastern tip of Britain.

Keiss Harbour & Beach


We did not hang around for long at Duncansby Head – it was bloody cold for one thing! Decided to press on to Keiss harbour, which was well worth a visit. We spent a while here taking quite a few worthwhile photos.

Left Keiss harbour at 12:58 and by now we were looking for toilet facilities in earnest, but with no luck. This is proving to be something of a pattern in the Highlands which explains why I am so dehydrated – I dare not drink too much water – or coffee for that matter!

Most of the public toilets we have managed to find up here – including today – were locked. It can be quite stressful when bladders are anticipating relief only to find bars and padlocks.

We managed to find a deserted golf club house and my colleagues – whose need for relief was greater than mine – overcame their initial reservations and made use of the facilities.

I found Keiss harbour on the map last night and thought it looked promising, and indeed it was. We were all snap-happy for quite a while.

The beach stretched from Keiss to Noss Head, with a castle at each end.

Thanks to this impromptu lavatorial stop we decided to stay and walk down to the beach. This was a very pleasant and very long beach with immense sand dunes and a castle at each end. What more could you want?

16:48 | Castletown, 13ºC, blue sky, sunny, dry.

Arrived in the bar earlier than usual to try a few more of the Orkney bottled beers. I am on my own at the moment and enjoying the quiet. It has been a very good day in all sorts of ways. And I have only driven a mere 62 miles.

Another very good Orkney ale; the name and the label suggested a porter or other dark beer but in fact it was blond and very pleasant.

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