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Being tourists on the edge...

To start an exciting long weekend on the North Coast 500, we stayed in a camping pod at John o' Groats, so we could go visit some amazing coastal sites in Caithness. With the forecast looking most unforgiving for the entire weekend, we woke up to see beautiful sunshine. This weather continued throughout the entire weekend.

We left our pod and headed towards Duncansby Head. On arrival we parked up next to the lighthouse and walked along the cliff edge to go and see the fascinating ‘Geo of Sclaites’ – a deep cleft which extends far into the cliff face. We could see hundreds of birds including fulmars nesting in the cliff face, majority of which had young chicks.

We continued walking to see the stunning views of the Duncansby Head stacks and the Thirle Door. These huge pinnacles are an example of the great power of coastal erosion. This is a definite must see!

After our visit to Duncansby Head, we proceeded towards the most northern point in the British mainland, Dunnet Head. We went there on the hopes of seeing puffins roosting in the cliffs; unfortunately, we were out of luck. To make up for it, we did see a small pod of Atlantic White-sided Dolphins swimming in the distance out in the Pentland Firth.

As it is a RSPB nature reserve, we did see a number of other bird species roosting and flying around the cliff face including shag, great skua, fulmar, guillemot, razorbill and kittiwake.

Most people on arrival will go straight towards the viewpoint where it is walled off to prevent you going any further. We went back out over the cattle gate and walked down the edge of the stone wall towards the cliff, so we could get a good look at the cliff face that is not visible from the viewpoint. In my previous visits, this was the best place to see puffins if they were still there. Be very careful though as it can be windy and the ground can be very slippery, so make sure to watch your feet and don’t go too close to the edge.

The views at Dunnet Head are incredible, especially the cliffs of Hoy which is part of the Orkney Isles can be clearly seen on the opposite side of the firth, on a good day like we had.

To finish off our travels around Caithness before heading along the north coast to Tongue, we decided to stop by the stunning white, sandy beach of Dunnet Bay. This beach extends over 2 miles from Dunnet to Castletown. This is a great beach for sunbathing, surfing, swimming or just walking along the sand. The edge of the beach backs up into majestic sand dunes.

Even if you aren’t planning on doing the North Coast 500, the coastline of Caithness provides some beautiful scenery which is only about 2.5 hours drive from Inverness, and it is certainly worth the trip.


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