John o'Groats is popularly thought of as the northernmost point on the mainland (the counterpart to Land's End in Cornwall) - although not actually the northernmost point (this honour belongs to Dunnet Head nearby), John o'Groats is certainly the northernmost settlement on Great Britain.
John o'Groats takes its name from one Jan de Groot, a Dutchman who obtained a grant for the ferry from the Scottish mainland to the Orkney Islands, recently acquired from Norway, from the Scottish King James IV in 1496.
- John o'Groats Tourist Information Centre, County Road, ☎ , fax: . open Easter-October. Information on travel, accommodation, local services and emergency services - also stocks a range of books, maps, gifts and souvenirs.
This is the only direct means to get to John o'Groats. It is located at the end of the A99, which branches from the main A9 Inverness to Thurso road at the village of Latheron, going via the neighbouring town of Wick. If you are arriving via the Orkney Islands, you follow the A939 due east from Thurso.
If you are driving from the Central Belt, bear in mind that this is an extremely remote part of Scotland, the total distance from Glasgow/Edinburgh is almost 280 miles (450km) - think about it - the same distance as say the Midlands of England. From the Central Belt to Inverness is around 2.5-3hours, reckon on another 2 hours to make the 110 mile journey to Caithness as the A9 becomes a rural single carriageway north of the Black Isle.
Get a ferry from the Orkney Islands.
- John o' Groats Ferries passenger ferry sails from Burwick to John o' Groats (summer only).
- Pentland Ferries vehicle and passenger ferry sails from St Margaret's Hope to Gills Bay (5km west of John o' Groats).
- The Last House and Last House Museum.
- Castle of Mey (6 miles west of John o'Groats towards Thurso). The Caithness residence of the late Queen Mum, lovingly restored by her after the death of her husband King George VI in 1952.
- Go to Land's End! The John O'Groats to Land's End, (or Vice Versa) journey has been undertaken by many individuals as a personal challenge, and to raise funds for good causes. It is often undertaken on foot or by bicycle to raise funds. Ian Botham the former England Cricketer popularised the journey in recent years when raising funds for charity.
There is a small shop called 'First and Last' at the pier of John O'Groats.
- 1 John o' Groats Guest House, John o' Groats, Caithness, KW1 4YR, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A comfortable, family run guest house. £50.
- Head back the other way to Land's End. It's a long walk!