John o' Groats


The Last House in Scotland, John O' Groats
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

The Last House in Scotland, John O' Groats

Situated at the northernmost extremity of mainland Scotland, though not the most northerly point, the settlement of John o' Groats lies 1½ miles (2 km) west southwest of Duncansby Head, 17 miles (27 km) north of Wick in Caithness and 876 miles (1410 km) from Land's End at the southern tip of Britain. It is named after the Dutch settler Jan de Groot who operated a ferry to Orkney from here in the 15th century after the Orkney Islands had been annexed to Scotland in 1472. A mound and flagpole mark the site of his octagonal house, allegedly built in that shape to placate his eight sons. When the railway arrived in Wick and Thurso in 1874, tourists started to arrive. John o' Groats remains a small farming, fishing and tourist settlement with a museum and a craft centre with knitwear, candlemaking and pottery outlets. Criticised as an untidy tourist trap, with Britain's most northerly derelict building, the village was named the most dismal place in Scotland in 2010 as part of the Carbuncle Awards.

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