Scrabster, Scotland

Introduction to Scrabster, Scotland

Located on the Scottish north coast in Thurso Bay, Scrabster is one of Scotland's most important fishing ports. 

Scrabster - one of Scotland's most northerly ports - is located just a short drive from the Castle of Mey and is within walking distance of Thurso, the second largest town in the Highlands. From this tiny settlement you can set off into the Highlands and explore the beautiful rolling landscapes, or if you prefer, you can simply stay in the area, enjoy the traditional fishing harbour and experience the hustle and bustle of the busy fish market.

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BETTYHILL & THE HIGHLAND CLEARANCES (TOUR F)

  • Learn about one of the darkest periods of Scotland’s history
  • Visit Bettyhill – built to house displaced crofters
  • The Strathnaver Museum gives an insight in to the devastating effect on the Highland population
Price£45.00 - £55.00
DurationApproximately 3 ¾ Hours
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking
Free time includedFree time included

Bettyhill owes its existence to the Highland Clearances – considered to be one of the darkest episodes in the history of the Highlands. At this time, landowners ruthlessly cleared their lands of tenant farmers to make way for sheep.

Before the clearances, the Highlands were heavily populated. Between 1811 and 1821 a total of 15,000 people were cleared from the estates of the land owner who would later become the reviled Duke of Sutherland. Nearby Rosal was one of the villages cleared of its crofting inhabitants and, in an unusual move, the local landowner, Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland, had the village of Bettyhill built in 1814 to house the displaced crofters.

This tour affords you the opportunity to visit the older part of the village, along with a tour of the Strathnaver Museum, housed in the old parish church to learn more about the Clearances and their devastating effect on the population of the Highlands.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 2017 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour involves a moderate amount of walking throughout. It is suitable for wheelchair users, providing they can get on and off the coach unaided. Walking undertaken during free time in Bettyhill is at the discretion of the individual. Refreshments are not included in this tour, but will be available to purchase in the village, at your own expense. Toilet facilities are available at the Strathnaver Museum. Please note that tour buses may not have air conditioning or toilets. For reference, this tour may operate in a different order to that described


CASTLE OF MEY & DUNNET HEAD (TOUR G)

  • Explore the Castle of Mey, where the royal family spent many happy summers
  • View some of the Queen Mother’s many artefacts, including the Great Sword of Mey
  • Admire Dunnet Head lighthouse – built by Robert Stevenson in 1831
Price£60.00 - £70.00
DurationApproximately 4 hours
Walking level 3 - extensive walkingExtensive walking
Free time includedFree time included
Shopping time includedShopping time included

Enjoy a delightful visit to the Castle of Mey, the most northerly castle in Scotland and the beloved residence of the late Queen Mother, before continuing to Dunnet Head – the most northerly point on the British mainland.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother first saw the then Barrogill Castle in 1952, while mourning the death of her husband, King George VI. Falling for its ruined isolated charm, and hearing it was to be abandoned, she decided to save it.

Her Majesty purchased the castle, and returned it to its original name of Castle of Mey, spending two years renovating the castle and its parkland. Included in the restoration was the delightful walled garden that, thanks to the 12-foot (three and a half metre) high ‘Great Wall of Mey’, is protected from the fierce winds and salt spray that blow in from the Pentland Firth. She even managed to nurture her favourite rose, Albertine, into scented abundance here.

As you enjoy your tour of the castle and gardens, you will learn more about why this property was so close to the Queen Mother’s heart, and also about Prince Charles’ commitment to the future of Castle of Mey.

On the return drive to Scrabster, there will be a brief stop at Dunnet Head – the most northerly point on the British mainland, which is an RSPB reserve and home to a lighthouse constructed by Robert Stevenson in 1831.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 2017 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour involves approximately two hours of walking in the castle and grounds, some of which will be over gravelled terrain, and there will be some steps to negotiate. There will be some time at leisure to explore the castle gardens further, where walking will be at the discretion of the individual. Please note that large bags are not permitted inside the castle, and photography is prohibited. For reference, tour buses may not have air conditioning or toilets. All participants must be able to get on and off the coach unaided. Refreshments are not included in this tour, but will be available to purchase in the castle tea room, at your own expense.


Castle of Mey, Scrabster, UK

CASTLE OF MEY & JOHN O’GROATS

  • Explore the Castle of Mey, where the royal family spent many happy summers
  • Relax and view the Queen Mother’s favourite seat in the Shell Garden
  • Discover the village of John O’ Groats
Activity Tour
Price£38.00 - £48.00
DurationApproximately 3.25 hours
Walking level 1 - minimal or no walkingMinimal or no walking
Free time includedFree time included
Shopping time includedShopping time included

Enjoy a delightful visit to the Castle of Mey, the most northerly castle in mainland Scotland and the beloved residence of the late Queen Mother and explore John O’ Groats, an iconic northerly point on the British mainland.

Travelling from Scrabster, you will drive to the Castle of Mey. Having saved the castle from ruin in 1952, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother oversaw the restoration of the building herself, and created its beautiful gardens. Inside, it is possible to view many artefacts and personal memorabilia that she collected, including the Great Sword of Mey.

After visiting the castle, you will travel to John O’ Groats. Here, you will have the chance to browse through the a few shops and take photos next to the famous sign to Land’s End. From here, you will return to Scrabster and your awaiting ship. 

TOUR DESCRIPTION IS CORRECT FOR 2016 UK CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour involves approximately 90 minutes of walking in the castle and grounds, some of which will be over gravelled terrain and there will be some steps to negotiate. There will be approximately 30 minutes of free time in John O’Groats, where walking will be at the discretion of the individual. Please note that large bags are not permitted inside the castle, and photography is prohibited. Please note that tour buses may not have air conditioning or toilets. All guests must be able to board the coach unaided.

 


Famous John O�Groats sign, Scrabster, UK

CLIFFS, PUFFINS & LIGHTHOUSES (TOUR B)

  • Admire varied landscapes - from rolling farmland to stunning coastal vistas
  • Keep your eyes peeled for seabirds including breeding puffins, razorbills and kittiwakes
  • Capture dramatic northerly seascapes and majestic lighthouses on camera
Activity Tour
Price£35.00 - £45.00
DurationApproximately 4 ¼ Hours
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking
Free time includedFree time included
Shopping time includedShopping time included

This leisurely panoramic tour travels through Scotland’s northern wilderness, the county of Caithness, and reveals an area rich in natural history and heritage.

Leaving Scrabster, you will pass through the Scottish town of Thurso and travel across open moorland en route to Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of mainland Britain and an RSPB reserve.  Here, you will find Robert Stevenson’s iconic lighthouse, built in 1831, overlooking the Pentland Firth and Orkney Islands beyond. You’ll also discover imposing sandstone cliffs, a haven for seabirds including breeding puffins, razorbills and kittiwakes.

Next, continue along the coast and past the Castle of Mey, former home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and past Canisbay Church. You will then enjoy some time at leisure at John O' Groats, famed for being the most northerly settlement of the United Kingdom mainland.  Continuing, enjoy a stop at Duncansby Head; have your camera ready to capture the dramatic northerly seascapes and majestic lighthouse. Before returning to the ship, you will make a brief stop for photos in each of the area’s two largest towns; Wick and Thurso.

TOUR DESCRIPTION IS CORRECT FOR 2017 UK CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU?  This tour involves a moderate amount of walking throughout the duration of the tour; the terrain at Dunnet Head will be grassy. There will be approximately 30 minutes of free time in John O’Groats, where walking will be at the discretion of the guests. Please note that tour buses may not have air conditioning or toilets. All participants must be able to get on and off the coach unaided. Warm, waterproof clothing is advisable.


Grand Dunrobin Castle, Scrabster, UK

GRAND DUNROBIN CASTLE & ROYAL DORNOCH

  • Explore the northern stretch of the east coast of Scotland
  • Visit the largest house in the Highlands –  the awe-inspiring Dunrobin Castle
  • Take a walk in magnificent formal gardens which overlook the sea

 

Activity Tour
Price£50.00 - £60.00
DurationApproximately 7.45 hours
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking
Free time includedFree time included
Shopping time includedShopping time included

Embark on a scenic drive to discover the beautiful Scottish countryside and enjoy visits to the dramatic Dunrobin Castle and the town of Royal Dornoch.

Travel through the gentle eastern shore line of Caitness, hugging the coast, and through the pretty towns of Helmsdale and Brora before arriving at the breathtaking Dunrobin Castle. The castle dramatically unveils itself to you at the end of a long, tree-lined drive. The impressive house contains 189 rooms, with a rich collection of fine furniture, paintings, tapestries and objects d’art. The castle is magnificently set in a great park and you are free to walk in these beautiful formal gardens, which overlook the sea.

After spending time at the castle, you re-join your coach and head towards the enchanting 12th century town of Royal Dornoch for time at leisure to explore the town further. You will then return to your ship in Scrabster. 

TOUR DESCRIPTION IS CORRECT FOR 2016 UK CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour involves approximately two hours of walking in the castle and grounds, and many steps and flights of stairs will be encountered. Owing to the small size of the rooms in the castle, guides cannot give a room-by-room commentary. A detailed introduction will be made instead and then you are free to explore – the guides will remain on hand to answer any questions. Please note that large bags are not permitted inside the castle, and photography is prohibited. Unfortunately this tour is not suitable for wheelchair users or guests with limited mobility. For reference, the journey will take approximately two hours each way and tour buses may not have air conditioning or toilets. Please note that lunch or refreshments are not included in the cost of this tour, however you will be given the chance to purchase at guests own expense.

 


Walk along the Holborn coastline, Scrabster, UK

HOLBORN HEAD WALK (TOUR E)

  • Admire stunning coastal scenery during a guided walk
  • Appreciate wonderful views of the island of Hoy
  • Have your binoculars at the ready to try and spot local wildlife
Activity Tour
Price£20.00 - £30.00
DurationApproximately 3 hours
Walking level 3 - extensive walkingExtensive walking

Enjoy fantastic views, sea cliffs, blowholes and nesting seabirds on this guided walk with a local ranger. Learn about the wonderful wildflowers found here and keep your eyes peeled for nesting seabirds on the sea stack.

After meeting your local countryside ranger, you will embark on your walking tour from the quayside. You will head uphill towards the lighthouse, before following the main path for Holborn Head. Your route will pass a series of beautiful cliffs, sea stacks and dramatic natural arches acting as blowholes known as a gloup. The walk along the cliff edge is impressive and allows for fantastic vistas of the seascape. The coastal grasslands and cliffs are rich in plantlife including thrift, eyebrights, grass of parnassus and numerous orchids. Once you reach the end of the headland you’ll return to Scrabster harbour and your awaiting ship.

TOUR DESCRIPTION IS CORRECT FOR 2017 UK CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? A reasonable level of fitness is required to complete this tour as approximately three and a half kilometres (two miles) will be covered – you will be walking for the full duration of the tour. Therefore it is not suitable for guests with limited mobility or wheelchair users. Walking will be over rough and boggy terrain with some inclined hills and unfenced high cliffs encountered. Walking boots or sturdy footwear are essential, and warm waterproof clothing is advisable. This tour is dependent on weather conditions and could be cancelled for health and safety reasons.


JOHN O'GROATS & DUNCANSBY HEAD (TOUR H)

  • Visit Canisbay Kirk – nestled on the shores of Pentland Firth
  • Marvel at dramatic coastal scenery
  • Discover the village of John O’Groats
Price£40.00 - £50.00
DurationApproximately 3 ¼ Hours
Walking level 1 - minimal or no walkingMinimal or no walking
Free time includedFree time included

Enjoy a scenic drive along the picturesque north coast of the Scottish mainland, culminating with a leisurely visit to John O’Groats.

Your first stop on the tour is the medieval Canisbay Kirk. This beautifully maintained and startlingly white church was the Queen Mother’s church during her visits to the Castle of Mey; and has served as a shipping landmark for centuries in these sometimes turbulent waters.

Next, a pause at Duncansby Head – the most north-easterly point of the Scottish mainland. Have your camera to hand to capture the spectacular scenery, with dramatic sea stacks and views over the Pentland Firth towards Orkney.

End your tour with a stop at the small coastal village of John O’Groats. This famous location is the starting point for many embarking on the famous ‘End to End’ journey to Land’s End in England, some 876 miles (1,410 kilometres) away. Here, you will have approximately 40 minutes to explore at leisure, before making the journey back to Scrabster and your awaiting ship.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 2017 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour involves minimal walking, and so is considered suitable for all guests, providing they can get on and off the coach unaided. The amount of walking undertaken at the photo stops and during the free time in John O’Groats is at the individual’s discretion. Please note that tour buses may not have air conditioning or toilets. For reference, this tour may operate in a different order to that described.


Whisky Tour, Scrabster, UK

WHISKY, WICK & JOHN O’GROATS (TOUR C)

  • Learn more about the production of whisky with a visit to Pulteney Distillery
  • Explore the beautiful town of Wick
  • Stop at the famous northerly point on the British mainland – John O’Groats
Activity Tour
Price£50.00 - £60.00
DurationApproximately 4.5 hours
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking
Refreshments includedRefreshments included
Free time includedFree time included
Shopping time includedShopping time included

 

Discover the northern tip of Scotland and take in a visit to the Pulteney Distillery, where you can enjoy a sample of whisky.

From Scrabster you will travel inland to Wick to visit the famous Pulteney Distillery, the only whisky distillery in the area, and the most northerly on the Scottish mainland. Savour the chance to taste how the old traditions are kept alive with a ‘wee dram’ at the end of your guided visit.

Following your visit, enjoy the opportunity to explore Wick at leisure. Today, the town is almost like a miniature Aberdeen and features a busy harbour and a centre with considerable character. After your time at leisure in Wick, you will embark on a scenic drive along the coast further north. Arriving in John O’Groats, enjoy a short photo stop here, before returning to your awaiting ship in Scrabster.

TOUR DESCRIPTION IS CORRECT FOR 2017 UK CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU?  This tour involves a moderate amount of walking throughout. There are many steps to negotiate at the distillery, therefore is not considered suitable for guests with limited mobility or wheelchair users. There will be approximately 25 minutes of free time in Wick, where walking will be at the discretion of the individual. Please note that tour buses may not have air conditioning or toilets. All participants must be able to get on and off the coach unaided. Please be advised that any alcohol purchased to take home will be handed in to security for safe keeping on return to the ship. Guests under the age of 18 years of age will not be permitted to try the whisky.


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