Thurso can seem like a city compared to the little villages that make up most of the settlements in this part of Scotland. It even emulates Edinburgh with a Princes Street. In fact, Thurso is mainland Britain's most northerly town, complete with the most northerly railway station. From its Norse beginnings - the name derives from the Old Norse for Bull's River - the town has grown to its present size largely as a result of the proximity of the Dounreay nuclear power station, now being decommissioned. The town's attractive seafront includes the restored fishing quarter of Fisherbiggins and a promenade offering views to Orkney. The bay is popular with windsurfers, and is used for international surfing competitions. Last year there was a suggestion that the bay would be the perfect laboratory for studying Scotland's seas. The nearby port of Scrabster serves as the main ferry departure point for the Orkneys.
Thurso Castle started off as a 12th century earthwork, but it went through two subsequent transformations: in the 17th century George, Earl of Caithness built a stone tower house on the site, then in the 19th century the tower was incorporated into a Scottish baronial mansion by Sir Tollemache Sinclair. The castle is now ruined, and closed to the public. Thurso's St Peters Church stands on the oldest church site in Caithness, dating originally from the first half of the 13th century. The heritage and history of the region is displayed in an excellent museum called Caithness Horizons.
For a list of events in Thurso, see here.
Map of the area.
© 2009 Reinhard Dietrich, via Wikimedia Commons