You will more than likely be disappointed with John O’Groats but don’t despair as just a mile up the coast is a reward for those that seek it out.
Distance from Mey House: 7 Miles
Google maps link: http://goo.gl/maps/xvRAz
Situated at the most north easterly point of the mainland is the wonderful Duncansby Head, a sandstone headland that stands above the juncture between the Pentland Firth and the North Sea. The mighty currents created by the tumultuous clash between the two bodies of water creates an extremely fertile ecology that supports large colonies of seabirds, seals and between April and July, pods of Orca (Killer Whales to my generation). All this plus wonderful views of the Caithness coastline and the southern islands of Orkney can be witnessed from the area immediately around the car park and if your schedule is tight you won’t be disappointed with spending a few minutes of it here.
However if you have more time, follow the grass paths to the south and you will be in for a real treat. First, in the distance you will catch sight of the mighty sea stacks to which you will be inextricably drawn but what will take you by surprise on your walk toward them is the Geo of Sclaites. This natural phenomena is a huge cleft in the cliffs that has been carved out over the centuries and which today provides a sheltered haven for thousands of nesting seabirds including large numbers of Puffins, a must see.
Continue across the clifftop fields toward the stunning geological edifices of Thirle Door and the Stacks of Duncansby. These features are eroded sandstone, hewn from the nearby cliff faces over the past six thousand years until today, the tallest stands 60m above the waterline and some 200m from the shore. Many of the visitors to the area will venture no further than the obvious view from the fence line but if you make the effort and follow the path south you will be rewarded with not only an ever changing vista created by the moving alignment of the stacks but also an ever decreasing number of people. This is where you need to head for the best photo opportunities of the stacks plus great vantage points to witness the hunting Orca.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The road to Duncansby is opposite the John O’Groats Post Office. There are no visitor facilities at the headland so buy your supplies and use the toilets at John O’Groats!
GREAT FOR: Romantic walks, summer picnics, wonderful vistas and amazing wildlife.
RECOMMENDATION: As much as you might be tempted to straddle the safety fences or edge toward the cliff edges to get a better view DON’T! The ground is incredibly uneven off the paths and it’s all too easy to stumble and fall leaving you at best with a walk back to the car on a sprained ankle or at worst, a fatal tumble down the cliff face (as a tourist did in 2015).