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A visit to John O’Groats should be OFF the Bucket List. It’s not worth the effort.

Hyped up over the inflated egotistical corporate self promotional drivel, my family and I were taken in, and began a journey related to the appreciation of the Northern Territories of Scotland.  At the very top of Scotland, we began with a journey to see the topmost camping sites in Scotland, and visit John O Groats (or Jon o Groats depending on where you come from).

John O Groats is the place that end to enders from Lands End start and finish. The distance from Lands End to John O Groats is approximately 874 miles and is technically the furthest distance points for our little UK island

Dunnet Head is the actual furthest point, but John O Groats is the place that has turned commercial.

Pretty leaflets and alluring descriptions pulled us to striking an item from our family bucket list.  Come to think of it, we may have to rethink the drivel in our bucket if this is what we are reduced to.

Should’ve stayed at home……or should we?

“Are we nearly there yet  mum?” every five minutes in a three hour hour journey with 100 miles of driving, drives us a little into brain mush.  “I need a pee” seemed to resonate with any one of the three of them needing to stop off at the entry of every little village we passed along the way.

“Muuummm” a voice calls in panic from the loo.  Racing into the gents and expecting goodness knows what, a little boy pipes up that there’s no loo roll.  Running off for some leaves at the side of the road isn’t the most enjoyable way to spend five minutes on a car stop.

Visiting any toilet as a female is an effort of epic proportions as there is always the problem of what to do if there isn’t any toilet roll !!!   When the boys were smaller, pants were known to be disposed of in a toilet bin when loo roll was in short supply.

“There’s nothing to see,” eldest says in disgust as we roll up to the car park with the aura of excitement waning.  We see the signs for John O’Groats.  Expecting gorgeous views and unspoiled beachy areas, we parked up in silence as the exact nature of the place became clear and the heavens decided to rain on our parade in buckets and spaces, with cats and dogs to spare.

Disappointment abounded.  I know the season hasn’t officially started yet, but come on, there were dozens of cars there in the short half hour that we stayed for, so they should have been a bit more prepared for people this close to opening season than they were.

Grudging the 60p it cost for three boys to take a leak, I pushed them through a tatty turnstyle with skewed sign on it. With the amount of 20 pees they must take, surely they could afford a decent sign and a clean of the toilet floors now and again.

Promising littlest who is museum daft a browse of the “last house in scotland,” I finally admitted defeat in the tattyness and sheer pointlessness of the visit.  The “last house” was shrouded in scaffolding, as was the tearoom thing, the hotel, and it seemed like almost everything else there.

Harbour John O'Groats


Most of the shop units were empty and looked deserted.  The deco pieces looked skanky and dirty.

From its workshop, Caithness Candles looked like it does a roaring trade in what looked like penis shaped candles.  As a chandler myself, I gave their showroom a miss.

The caravan site looked nothing like website pics and I was pleased that we left the van behind to come up for a look.  Staying there would have been soul destroying.

Caravan Site John O'Groats - View 1
Caravan Site John O'Groats - The Lone Van


The only two places worth a small visit seemed to be the gift shop and the ice-cream shop but be prepared for extortionate prices for an ice-cream cone.

Craft Shop


“Horrible,” eldest summed up and he was quite right.  The harbour is skanky and miserable.

It’s a pointless visit if you want to see nice scenery and I’d advise going to either Dunnet Head or Duncansby Head.  We didn’t have time for Duncansby Head, but I’ll tell you about Dunnet Head in another post as it would spoil it to have it added here.