Mafia connections, the Emerald Isle and a Highland Fling travel blog

Can't visit Scotland and not take a picture of a Highland Cow

Lovely garden in Thurso

Dan meets John o'Groats

Castle of Mey - Queen's Mother's home

A cute puffin

Too cute

Donnet Head lighthouse

In Thurso I had another restless night due to the late night open mic session at the pub near our hotel. We had drinks there earlier in the evening but were too tired to wait till 10pm for the open mic entertainment. I still heard it from our room anyway!

Today we visited the Castle of Mey, which was the property of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother from 1952. The castle is situated on the north coast of Caithness , not far from Thurso where we spent the night... we visited on a guided tour and learned lots of interesting things about the Royal Family. The Castle will be closed for a couple of weeks in late July as Prince Charles is coming up to stay for ten days (probably without Camilla as he likes the seclusion and she doesn't). Interestingly Charles, Prince of Wales, is officially the Duke of Rothesay while in Scotland. We weren't allowed to take photos inside for security reasons.

Ten kms down the road is John o'Groats which lies on Great Britain's northeastern tip, and is popular with not only us tourists but loads of cyclists. We weren't sure if they were starting or ending their bike ride to Land's End here.

This is one end of the longest distance between two inhabited British points on the mainland, with Land's End in Cornwall lying 1,410 km to the southwest being the other. Grae enjoyed recounting how years ago he drove from his home in the Midlands to Land's End one day and back and then to John o'Groats the next.

It is not even the most northerly point on the island of Britain, nearby Dunnet Head is actually farther north and this is where we saw puffins up close and personal and only a 100 metres walk from the car park on the cliffs near the lighthouse. What a highlight! oh and there were loads of other seabirds including razorbills, guillemots, fulmars, kittiwakes, shags and cormorant. These puffins are Atlantic Puffins and are just too cute with their sad looking eyes. They actually live most of their lives at sea and their colourful beaks fade to a drab grey in winter. We were lucky to see any puffins at all because by now the chicks should be fledged and out to sea.

Looking out across the water we could also see many of the Orkney Isles appearing out of the sea mist.

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