There is a full service Post Office in John O’Groats. This means you can buy individual stamps for your postcards – without the requirement to buy them in books, pay a service charge or buy anything else. They do ‘hand frank’ you postcards and letters so you get the most authentic post stamp on your mail items. They also do other Post Office services like banking (UK Banks), bill payments, money transfers (Moneygram) and can even order Euros for you (2-3 days) if you are travelling on to Europe.
They also operate as the local General Store and Petrol Station. They are a family owned business that has operated since 1881! They sell fresh produce, frozen foods, snacks, newspapers and stationary items. You can also top-up your UK mobile phone here.
They also have a postbox outside.
They are open:
M, Tues, W, F 09:00-13:00, 14:00-17:30
I had never heard of a geo before but now,once seen, never forgotten! There are so many of these deep inlets that have been naturally cut into the huge cliff faces, in this part of Scotland, that you could become a little blase about them, but then again, maybe not.
This is geo of Sclaites enroute to Duncansby stacks and quite takes your breath away. The sheer size of the inlet and the height of the cliffs is incredible.And the layered structure of the cliffs makes you actually think they have been man-made. As you look closer you see all the seabirds nesting on the ledges, hundreds of them. Quite a sight and certainly you can smell them, a distincy fishy smell.
This was the first geo we came across on this holiday but we saw many more after this. A really incredible natural phenomenon.
Never mind John o'Groats, when in this neck of the woods, press on to Duncansby Head. This is the true most north easterly point of Scotland and well deserves it's title.It is surrounded by the notorious Pentland Firth to the north and the Moray Firth to the south and is a haven for seabirds and sealife in general.
Follow the minor road east from John o'Groats and park in the ample car park before the lighthouse. Never mind the views from here, what most people come here for is the walk to Duncansby Stacks along the cliffpath.This takes some half hour, but you do get your first impression of the stacks long before this and impressive it is.You pass the impressive geo which is deep inlets naturally cut into the cliffs. Here, seabirds build their nests clinging to the cliff face and we were able to see clearly the fluffy young birds in their nests, way, way above the sea.
Finally, you get close to the stacks and rest assured, your camera will get a lot of use!! The sight of these huge sea stacks is something I will remember forever, I was so enthralled I must have taken at least fifty photos!
There are plenty of places to get really good views of the stacks and cliffs from and you will undoubtedly see seals bobbing about in the sea, way below. Just an experience not to miss!
Out and about on the motorbike, we called into Gills Bay. This is quite a large, industrial type harbour where ferries leave for Orkney and nearby islands, crossing the infamous Pentland Firth, notorious for it's ferocious tidal currents.
There is a grand view across the bay to the uninhabited island of Stroma where sheep graze amongst the many ruined buildings.The island, in it's heyday, had a population of around 550 but gradually folks left and many went to work at Dounreay Power Station.It is a strange feeling, looking across at the deserted buildings.
This place, located around 2 kms to the east of John O’Groats is the northeasternmost tip of Britain. Therefore, it is a popular stop for tourist buses. Beside its geographically extraordinary location, it is well visited because of the view onto the Pentland strait and – on clear days – the Orkney Islands. The lighthouse standing there was once inhabited, but was now automatised.
To most tourists, this can be the largest disappointment. The famous signpost is an expensive business which is operated by the same guys as the sign at Land’s End. You can have your photo taken there for a fee of 8 GBP (2010). Count in an additional pound, if you would like your picture to be sent to a non-UK address. The price includes sending the negatives to Land’s End to be developed, a print of your photo and a cardboard frame. Your home town with distance from John O’Groats in kilometers or miles is added upon request. The picture is of good quality, but still I find the 8 GBP to be a little too much. It is not allowed to take your own pictures at the signpost without permission. And after the photo booth closes, the sign is also removed from the spot. However, the guy from the photo booth takes as many pictures as you want with your camera once you have purchased a picture.
These rock formations are around 3 kilometers to the east/southeast away from John O’Groats. They can be reached by walking along the coast (via Duncansby Head) or by a walking path starting in the village of John O’Groats (the houses 500 meters inland, not the parking lot). They are dominated by two pointy rocks which were formed from erosion of the sandstone cliffs. Together with another formation which is still connected to the cliffs in forms a row of three. This latter one is called Thirle Door. Closer to Dunnet’s head (and probably the first of the rocks you will see), there is one standing like a column in the water. Several other small rocks add a pleasant touch to the scenery. On a lucky day, you will even see puffins, seals and other marine wildlife around the rocks.
Check out the following page for the hiking path between Duncansby Head and Duncansby stacks. The time given as one hour and thirty minutes is for both ways (45 min each way).
Apart from using the public toilet (£0.20) you can do one useful thing at Jo'G...go see the sea stacks at Duncansby Head.
They are created by wave erosion of the sandstone cliffs.
Unfortunately it had started to rain just as I arrived, and whilst I had wet weather stuff in my suitcase, really didn't want to unpack in the car park. As a result, I only saw the stacks from a distance. You can walk along the cliffs to get a better view.
Land's End and John O' Groats are at the extreme ends of Britain. Land's End is more dramatic. There really isn't all that to do or see at John O' Groats. The Last House in Scotland is just a tourist trap. The pipe band gives a bit of culture, and that's about it.
On a clear day the islands of Orkney can be seen.
Have a cup of tea or an icecream and move along the coast, or return from where you came from- and mark up another place on your list of destinations.