Thurso, Caithness (Travel Guide): Explore Scotland's Vibrant North Coast Capital #nc500
Thurso is the northernmost town on the British mainland, sitting at the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska. It marks the end of the British rail network and ferries set sail for Orkney from the adjacent harbour at Scrabster. The popularity of the NC 500 route is also attracting more visitors to this friendly town. There are plenty of accommodation options with both historic and chain hotels as well as a large camp site overlooking the beach.
Visitors will find an array of independent shops and cafes. In this film I visit the studio and workshop of Lindsey Gallacher as well as the first arts and crafts market promoted by the Thurso Community Development Trust. Visit the Trust’s facebook page to catch up on their programme of events.
The town’s name derives from Thor’s river or Bull’s river, depending on which historian you listen to. It lies in the historic county of Caithness, which was settled by the Vikings and has strong ties with Orkney across the Pentland Firth.
The oldest surviving building in the town is St Peters church (1125) which is wait for it, almost 900 years old. A truly Viking relic, even older than St Magnus cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney. It remained in operation until 1832 when it was replaced by the handsome form of the church of St Peter and St Andrew. The grid pattern of central Thurso was laid out in the 19th century and the town then changed little until its population nearly doubled in the 1950s when the nearby Dounreay poor station was opened. It is now in the decommissioning process but remains an important local employer.
The swells of the Pentland Firth have made Thurso the Surfing capital of Scotland, holding the Scottish, British and European surfing championships. The views from the town beach, towards Dunnet Head and Hoy are stunning.
The adjacent village of Scrabster is the embarkation point for the Northlink ferry to Orkney as well as being a busy commercial link with the distant Faroe Islands and Iceland and a thriving fishing harbour. Not surprising you can be very well fed in Scrabster (I go there regularly)!
Is Thurso worth visiting? A popular Google question. Answer: Yes (watch the film!)
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