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Map of Dunnet Area

Dunnet Area

Dunnet -
Within the county of Caithness there are several interesting areas which are combine a variety of interesting features and none more so than the Dunnet Bay area.  There are many attractions for the visitor and some of the more notable are featured here.  The quiet roads and by-ways with single track roads hark back to a much slower pace of life in rural areas.  This peaceful part of Scotland has much to offer the naturalist, fisherman and anyone looking for relaxation in unspoilt countryside with a beautiful and rugged coastline.  

This most northerly point on mainland Britain rises some 100 metres above sea level.  The Dunnet Head lighthouse was built in 1831 by Robert Stevenson, grandfather of the author Robert Louis Stevenson.  It was automated in 1989.  On a clear day the view point allows the visitor to see as far as Cape Wrath to the west and enjoy a stunning panoramic view across to John O'Groats and Duncansby Head. to the south lies Morven, the highest mountain in Caithness.

Dunnet Switches On Christmas Lights - 10 December 2005
The Christmas Lights At Dunnet were switched on this year by Lillian Oag. A smaller than usual group turned out for the switch on that has to be set for four o'clock to coincide with the street lights coming on as the decorations are attached to the lampposts.  A smaller turnout than usual was caused by the fact that many children were attending Christmas Party in the Viewfirth club in Thurso.  The lights committee at Dunnet have for the past few years been erecting and maintaining the lights that now stretch to every lamppost in the village.  Santa was on hand for the children.

Marymas Fair At Dunnet - Wet Day Did Not Stop The Fun 27 August 2005

Marymas Fayre 2008
Marymas Fayre 2006
Marymas Fayre 2005
Marymas Fayre 2003
Some Notes On Markets In Caithness In The Old Days - Henrietta Munro

Sunset At Dunnet Beach 30 April 2005

Built between 1566 and 1572 by George, the fourth Earl of Caithness, it became the family home of Sinclair of Mey.  In 1789 the elder line of the Mey family became extinct and for a century it was the seat of the local earldom. It was in a state of some decay when the Queen Mother bought it in 1952, shortly after the death of King George Vl.  The building was restored and was now the Queen mother's Highland holiday home until her death.  The Castle is open to the public and can clearly be seen from a number of vantage points around the Dunnet Bay tour route.  On selected days during the summer the castle gardens are open to the public.  For further details refer to the local press.  See Gardens Open to the Public in Caithness    Mey Castle (Barrogil) In ancient Times

Caithness flagstone is known in the building trade throughout the world.   Although the industry went into decline after the first world war, it is now enjoying something of a revival. More on The Flagstone Heritage.

See entries on the Flagstone Industry in Walks in Caithness 

Look out across the Pentland firth to the island of Stroma.  Stroma is Caithness's only island and was once home to a community of crofter-fishers.  The population reached 375 in the late 19th Century, but steady emigration thereafter saw the last family leave for the mainland in 1962.  Stroma takes its name from straum, the Norse for tidal stream and it is an apt reminder of its location amid the ferocious currents of the Pentland Firth.  During an ebb tide you will see the tidal race known as Men o' Mey.  On the foreshore is a seal colony.  A ferry run by Pentland Ferries
runs from Gills Bay in Caithness to St Margaret's hope in Orkney making good time usually the cheapest car ferry to Orkney.

Situated to the west end of the Castle Arms Hotel in Mey, just along from the castle, the Royal Gallery offers a unique photographic insight to the Queen mother's life in Caithness. Whether attending formal occasions, mixing with locals or meeting up with other Royals, the relative freedom she has enjoyed in Caithness is clearly evident.  Open all the year round, entry to the gallery is free and selected prints are available to purchase.

Dunnet Kirk is one of the oldest religious sites in Caithness.  The earliest references date from 1230 A.D. and, although the building has been altered a great deal during its long service, much of the surviving structure still dates from the 16th Century.  Dunnet has been served by many notable men of the cloth.  Prominent among them was Timothy Pont, minister from 1602 to 1610 who was the first person to map much of northern Scotland.  His memorial plaque can be seen inside.

Situated at the Dwarwick Pier turning off Mill road, Westside, Dunnet.  This Caithness cottage has hardly altered since it was built 150 years ago.  The Caithness Heritage Trust has restored Mrs Mary-Ann Calder's former home.  This crofthouse features a wealth of family history.  It exhibits original box-beds and a host of early machines and implements which were used on the croft.  For opening times and entry fees Tel 01955 603385.

On the north-west gable of ruined Kirk are date (1633) and the initials of the then minister David Bruce.  A medieval Kirk probably existed on the site before this date and may have been dedicated to St Trothan.  Despite very strong influence of the Kirk, superstition and legends abound.  The old kirkyard at Olrig is the scene of the tale about the Selkie Woman.  Found as a baby swaddled in a sealskin, she was subsequently banished from the kirk as a devil worshipper and ultimately died giving birth to her first child.  A small hollow on the stone reputed to cover her grave is said to never dry out!

Located adjacent to the car park at the north end of Dunnet Bay (next to the caravan site) the Ranger Centre exhibits the natural history of the area, including Dunnet Forest. 

Dunnet Forest
Leave your car at the small car park at the Southwest corner of the forest. Follow the signpost from the A836 roadside.  Dunnet Forest lies within the National Nature Reserve and owned by Scottish National Heritage. The grassland for which the Reserve has been identified supports a great number of plant species and range of wildlife. Some flowers, such as Primula Scotia, and a variety of butterflies, can be seen within some of the clearings of the forest.  There is a network of paths through the trees, which provide ideal short and sheltered walks. This is a good place to go in wet or windy weather. The ground can be wet in places, but continuing work is being done to bridge these areas with boardwalks. Dogs are welcome in the forest as long as they are kept under control.  If you are interested in wildlife and would like to know more, contact the Ranger Service at Dunnet Bay. The Ranger organises guided walks through the forest and will point out plants and animals of interest.

Dunnet Beach

Dunnet Information
Grid Reference - ND216707
Bird Watching
Flora and Fauna

Dunnet Beach Water Quality

Dunnet Bay Map

Panoramic Webcam View

Outdoor Activities 

Ranger Service

Kite Buggying At Dunnet Beach

Kite Buggying At Dunnet Beach

Brough, Dunnet - The Village of Captains

Waybaggers Dunnet Head Walk In December 2001

Dunnet Bay SSSI - Historical and Present Day Ecology

Dunnet Forestry Trust Web Site

Aeriel Photos
Dunnet Head From The Air
Dunnet Village From The Air
Castletown From The Air
John O'Groats From The Air

Aerial View of Dunnet Head

Dunnet Head In Distance

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Local Gun Maker

Places In Or Near Dunnet

Britannia Village Hall

Royal Observer Corp
Post At Dunnet Head

Puffins At Dunnet Head

Dunnet - Castletown

Dunnet Head Looking West

Dunnet Bay
12 October 2001

Kite Buggying

Seaforth Place

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Flagstones were used as fencing in days gone by and still seen on many farms.

Dunnet Kirk
The kirk or church here has a medieval west tower, though much of it dates from later periods.  It is similar in style to the church at Canisbay.

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Dunnet Head Lighthouse now automated
Picture from Margaret Bates.

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The old windmill at Castlehill makes an interesting start to the Flagstone Trail.

Shop To Dunnet Bay

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Click here for Dunnet in Winter snow

Puffin In Flight


Dunnet Lies On The Pentland Firth