"John O'Groats: Gate to the Orkneys-end of a route" Top 5 Page for this destination John O'Groats by Airpunk

John O'Groats Travel Guide: 16 reviews and 60 photos

This place located close to Britain’s northernmost spot is often described as a parking lot surrounded by souvenir shops and cafés or – more precisely – Scotland’s smallest tourist trap. There is some truth in it, but my opinion is that John O’Groats is what you make of it.
It depends on the way you get there. If John O’Groats is the end of a long trip linked with some effort (for example a bike trip, two weeks of hiking or even a self-planned public transport trip from Land’s end to John O’Groats), then a drink at this place can be the rewarding end. If you just go there to see the place and drive back after seeing all there is to see at John O’Groats, then you might be disappointed: There is not a lot to see there with exception of a view onto the Pentland Firth.
So what to do at John O’Groats? Well, there is a ferry to the Orkneys but that would reduce John O’Groats to a small port only. To me, John O’Groats’ secret lies around 2 kms to the east at Duncansby Head. That is the northeastern tip of Britain which you can reach by an enjoyable walk along the coast. A further kilometre southwards from Duncansby head, you will see the Duncansby stacks. These are beautiful rock formations which also serve as nesting places for birds, including the famous puffins.
What some people do not know: The village of John O’Groats itself is located around 500 meters inland from the parking lot. It consists of a handful of streets around an hotel-restaurant, a hostel and a couple of more tourist-oriented structures which mostly open in the summer season only. That said, most of the 550 inhabitants work in the tourism industry. John O’Groats has its origin in 1496 when James IV of Scotland granted the rights to operate a ferry to the Orkneys to a Dutchman called Jan de Groot. In a different form, this service operates today.
And to end a couple of misconceptions (or in modern language: Disclaimer): John O’Groats is not the northernmost spot in Britain. That’s Dunnet’s head, located around 15 kms to the west (not to be confused with Duncansby head which is 2 kms to the east). John O’Groats is the northern end of the famous way between Land’s End and John O’Groats which has even found its way into British English. However, it is not the farthest point on the island (only the farthest inhabited one) from Land’s End – that’s Duncansby Head.

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  • Last visit to John O'Groats: Oct 2010
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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