Castle of Mey was the Queen Mother's residence which she bought in 1952 and restored and renovated. Here, she spent her summers and odd weekends and later, in 1996, gifted the castle to the Castle Trust, thus enabling us commoners to visit and enjoy.Rather annoyingly, the castle and gardens were closed to the public when we wanted to visit. This was owing to the imminent arrival of Prince Charles, possibly on his annual holiday.
The castle is the most northerly on mainland Britain and stands close to the sea,looking out over the Pentland Firth.The castle, gardens and estate are open to the public (except when Royalty are in residence.)
We were only able to view the castle from a distance but did notice a large police presence.
While in this area, we also visited Harrow Harbour (known as Philllips harbour)which was looking fairly bleak in the wind and rain. The most noteable thing was the plaque stating Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame, opened the harbour.after it was rebuilt in 1979. He apparently bought a house in the area and knew the councillor in charge of the operation, hence the councillor invited Jimmy to open the rebuilt harbour!
Enroute to Dunnet Head we noticed a few cars parked on the side of the road. We wondered what the attraction was and it was only on our return from Dunnet Head we realised there was a rather attrctive bit of accessible coast here with a stack and a tiny harbour. By the time we stopped to view, the tide had receded, leaving the stack high and dry. Then we realised there was a set of steps taking you down to the tiny harbour. We didn't decend but sat on a nicely positioned seat above to admire the view.
Dunnet Head is the most northerly point of mainland Great Britain and is the place to go to view seabirds, including puffins, nesting on the 300feet cliffs.
A B road leaves the A836 at Dunnet and winds it's way up to the large car park at Dunnet Head.The lighthouse here was built in 1831 by Robert Stevenson and today is used for educational purposes.
To be honest, we were a little disappointed with our visit, access to the magnificent cliffs is very limited and is really a small viewing area of the high cliffs from where, if you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of puffins.
The more interesting feature of Dunnet Head are the views from a viewpoint off to the right of the lighthouse. From here, you have panoramic views all the way round (weather permitting.) It was rather dull and hazy on our visit but we did get to see Orkney mainland and the Old man of Hoy, peering over from behind. Most impressive!
Nearby are military installations left over from WW2, including a radar station and bunker.
The headland has many small lochans, only accessible by foot where permit fishing is allowed.
Flagstone is a common sight in Caithness and is used for many building purposes. It splits into slices (flags) and was formed over the years by the lake which covered this area drying out. The lake bed had been formed by successive layers of sediment settling and between the layers, fossils of fish were left, creating the plane along which the rock splits.This heritage trail tells the story of the beginning of the flagstone commercial business.
Before flagstone became big business, it was used locally for roofing, walling, paving and field dykes. When James Traill moved into Castlehill House, down by the sea, he had the wherewithall to turn the Flagstone business into a commercial venture, building a harbour, cottages, windmill. waterwheel and cutting yard. He opened a quarry where the flagstone was excavated, raised by hand levers. The business thrived and the first shipment left Castlehill in April 1825.
We wandered amongst the old buildings, taking in the information and ended down by the harbour. All the buildings, walls and harbour are constructed from flagstone and the stonework is quite something.
There is a Heritage Centre and a car park. The trail is free. There is another small parking area at the other end of the trail, at the eastern end of Castletown.There is also a sculpture trail off one end of the carpark but it was rather overgrown and wet when we walked it.
If you take a walk for 15 minutes or so by the beach from the city center, you will find this quite ruiny castle. The place is a bit mystic, but not for the fainthearted... The smell is awful of rotting corpses of seagulls etc... But it's very exciting :)))
This old man was very sad that day we were in Thurso. He was mourning somebody, so he didn't have his soberest day. KD wanted to shoot a photo of all of us. The discourse:
- Hey, mister, could you take a photograph of us, please?
- Aye, aye - said the old man and sat beside me and Zoli. KD chose to taka the picture :)
Anyways, could somebody give us a guess about what land can we see across the sea? :)
When we were there we thought that it's the Orkney's, but when we have come home, we realized that it can't be the Orkney's, the'yre a bit far away. So my personal guess was that it's Dunnet Head. But the other guys haven't accepted that. Thanx for help! :)
This is the beach of Thurso, very peaceful and still. In the background you can see Scrabster, that is the port of the ferry to the Orkneys