Remote and sparsely populated, John O' Groats is located on the northeastern tip of Scotland, right on the North Sea. In recent years, tourists have given John O'Groats a bad rap, calling it a "Seedy Tourist Trap" and labeling it the "Most Dismal Town in Scotland".
We visited in early September and we were met with beautiful blue skies and nice locals. We had the best accommodations at The Anchorage B&B and quite honestly felt more welcomed in John O'Groats than in any other city on our vacation.
I endeavor to convince you to make the trek to John O' Groats and to dispel some of the negative press.
John O' Groats with it's rolling hills is a place for animal lovers. There are cows and sheep absolutely everywhere. It reminded me of the Milk Advisory Ads, with the happy California cows.
The animals in John O' Groats are like the cows in the milk ad. They wander in beautiful pastures with views of the sea. Most of the area wasn't owned by a specific farmer, so we could walk through the fields and get very close to the animals, who didn't seem to be bothered by us.
We also found a huge field filled with "Swiss Rolls".
We walked down to the beach, which was completely deserted and filled with huge shells.
We walked along a lovely path to the town center for lunch.
After our disaster at The Curry King in Wick, we asked Gail, the owner of The Anchorage B&B for local dining recommendations.
Gail pointed us towards The Storehouse as a great spot for coffee. Apparently, when The Storehouse first opened, it was quite the talk of the town, being modern and fancier than the other local establishments. It's a great place to sit and watch the boats in the harbor.
One of the big attractions in John O' Groats is the ferry ride to the of Orkney Islands.
The islands are known for their prehistoric archaeological sites and wildlife, including seals and puffins. There are seventy islands that make up the Orkney Archipelago. The ferry that departs from John O'Groats goes to the largest island called The Mainland. We didn't do the Orkney tour on this trip, but it is a good excuse to return to the area.
We found the fishing boat that belongs to the owners of The Anchorage Inn, named of their two children.
Here is a closer look at the mural in the harbor.
One of my favorite travel foodie activities is trying local ice cream parlors. John O' Groats has a fantastic creamery called Flavors.
It was in Flavors that I had the best ice cream flavor combination ever = one scoop of Rum Raisin + one Scoop of Honey Comb. So yummy. Every time I saw a John O'Groats cow, I was thankful for the ice cream!
A portion of Flavors was a candy store and they sold Fluff. I've only seen Fluff packaged like this in the New England states. I've never seen Raspberry Fluff.
I can understand a bit of the bad rap that John O' Groats gets when it comes to its famous sign.
An enterprising individual realized that tourists would like to be able to take a picture with an official signpost notating the most Northern spot in the mainland UK. They also have a sign at the bottom of the UK in Lands End.
If you show up to take a picture, you have to pay a fee. There is a small shed where a photographer sits and guards the sign. The entire area is roped off, so that you can only take a decent picture if you pay.
I know that you're probably thinking, why not just show up late at night or very early in the morning? Someone can't guard it all day.
The sign is taken down each night.
We didn't think that it was worth paying, so we took a picture in front of another (free) signpost on a building nearby. It's not official, but it was close enough for us.
My favorite building in John O'Groats was this pretty row of apartments with a colorful paint job.
On Gail's recommendation, we had dinner in the pub adjacent to the Seaview Hotel.
The pub was mostly filled with locals and we even ran into Gail's family having dinner. They kindly bought us a beer. They are the best B&B owners ever!
When you visit an area known for fishing, you have to get the fish.
This pub had the best scallops that I have ever eaten and that was just the starter.
My main course was the grilled haddock with a dill sauce. Ridiculously good!
Dan opted for a burger, which was also fresh with local meat.
The Seaview Inn might not be much to look at, but the food is first-rate. The fish, in particular the scallops, were on par with any fine-dining restaurant that I have visited. Don't judge this book by its cover.
We returned to The Anchorage and experienced a beautiful, golden sunset to end our wonderful day exploring John O' Groats.