The Smiddy Huna John o Groats Caithness KW1 4YL
Offering lovely Sea Views close to John o Groats the Old Smiddy Cottage has been beautifully restored to provide comfortable Holiday Accommodation with all Modern Luxury keeping as many of it’s original features as possible.
Originally the Smiddy served the local communities of John O’Groats and Canisbay as well as the island of Stroma seen from the Windows, however the last blacksmith extinguished his forge for the final time about sixty years ago !
The modern day semi-detached Smiddy Cottage sleeps 4 up to 5 people in two Double Bedrooms (both en-suites) with full floor, wall and loft insulation, Central heating and a new roof (utilising the original Caithness roof slates) there is a also a Luxury kitchen extension and the gardens of the cottage slope down to the waters edge.
The front windows have Sea Views of the Pentland Firth, the Isles of Orkney and Hoy and perfect for the early sun rises. This cottage forms the perfect base for exploring Caithness, Sutherland, the North Coast, Cape Wrath and Orkney. From March to September Breeding Puffins live here and once a month on average the famous and mysterious Northern lights are seen too !
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Nowadays the great escape to the Northern Highlands and beautiful Far North Coast is made from Inverness in just over 2 hours and offers a breathtaking unforgettable journey through the length of Scotland and the Smiddy Cottage provides a warm welcome to all travellers.
Is John O’Groats the most Northern point of mainland Britain?
Not quite…Dunnet Head is Britain’s most northerly point, it is also further north than Moscow and Stavanger in Norway – but more easily accessible.
Standing high above the surrounding Pentland Firth the views extend all the way from Cape Wrath at the north-western tip of mainland Scotland to Duncansby Head at its much closer north-eastern tip. In some ways, though, it is Hoy and Orkney to the north that command most attention.
And if you can drag your eyes away from the shoreline and seascape, the views inland to the surprisingly pointy peaks of Morvern and Maiden Pap simply complete the stunning vista.
John o Groats and Caithness Wildlife
Up to 42 species of bird are regularly seen in this area, also living with you during your stay are Seals, Dolphins and even whales and a whole host of other wildlife which you may see from the windows of the Smiddy or down on the Beach !
If you want to see breeding Puffins just a short take a trip to Dunnet head between March and September and also Dunnet Bay is home to the Great Northern Diver, Common Scoter, Goldeneye, Red-Breasted Merganser, ducks and gulls. White-fronted Geese overwinter in nearby Loch Mey. Except for the cliff breeding colonies, there are birds in residence year-round.
You may well recognise these 2 lovely images below…perhaps on a postcard or even the TV. Yes this is Dunnet Head… one of the most photographed locations in the world and for a week or two it could be part of your back garden
Cape Wrath, Kyle of Tongue, John O’Groats
The areas of Caithness and Sutherland form Scotland’s northern wilderness offering superb panoramic mountain views and stunning scenery. Their scenery varies from wild cliffs and tiny islands to lonely moorland and remote golden sandy beaches. You will find Majestic castles like Dunrobin, Old Wick and Girnigoe, dozens of ancient monuments, quality tweeds and woollens, whisky distilleries such as Clynelish Distillery. Plus tree-lined twisting roads, spectacular bays, pretty harbours and foaming rivers rich in Brown Trout and Salmon.
The Strath of Kildonan (Smaller images) of Berriedale, Helmsdale and Dunrobin Castle
Golfing and Fishing Holidays
Championship golf courses such as Raey and places where you can fish for salmon and trout, an abundance of wildlife, excellent leisure pursuits, Salmon leaping at the Falls of Shin Visitor Centre , Falconry Displays. Why not hit the Highland trail and join Scotland’s great gold rush. Many hundreds did in the 1880s and gold is still to be found in the local streams !
Castle Mey, it’s Lovely gate house and wonderful gardens
Activities in Caithness and Sutherland
For the highly active there are a wide range of pursuits from horse riding / Pony trekking, surfing, sail boarding, land yachting, kites & kite buggying, sub-aqua diving and sailing, places to climb and walk. For the less active and just in need of a rest the beaches are amazing and often you will find one all to yourself. The area has much to offer for those interested in History and archaeology. With a local guide leaflet you can follow trails or head for one of the many ancient monuments.
Dunnet head, it’s famous lighthouse and views (left) and a few of its many local residents
The Orkney Islands
While staying at the Smiddy, why not also sample the delights of the beautiful Orkney islands. There are more than 70 islands in the Orcadian Archipelago…..of which 17 are inhabited. Access Orkney daily in the summer from John o’ Groats, or Scabster (Thurso) throughout the year… choose from island-hopping, pottering around ancient sites and dreamlike beaches, spending time browsing in craft shops and galleries, sample wholesome cuisine and drink the world famous ale and whisky..
Select Images of the beautiful Orkney Isles
Orkney Culture and Scapa Flow
Orkney has much to charm the visitor – historic attractions of global significance, diverse wildlife in a pure and serene environment, a rich cultural heritage, and the same traditionally warm and welcoming people you will find in Caithness.
You have a clear view of Scapa flow from the window of Dunnet Head cottage, why not take a closer look at Scapa flow during your visit to Orkney and it’s significant role in both wars, the great battleship Royal Oak was sunk here in October 1939 with the loss of 833 men and lies here with a number of other warships to this day, find out about this and much more at the new Naval museum….the highly active can also scuba-dive under supervision to view these monster ships lying deep in the flow.
Select Images of the beautiful Orkney Isles
Orkney Ferries / Orkney Car Hire
A day trip to Orkney from Dunnet Head Cottage is highley recommended. For the day tripper on foot the fantastic JOG Ferry Tel 01955 611353. Operating from John O’ Groats to (Burwick) Orkney just 40 minutes crossing time this ferry runs every day through the summer from May to the end of September, you can choose from a variety of tours and the maxi day tour at just £37 is fantastic value. You can also access Orkney (12 months/ all year round) from Scrabster (Thurso) via North link ferries. Return Adult fare from just £24 ( Return car fare from £80 and perhaps a little expensive for just a day trip) however you can easily pick up a hire car at Stromness (Orkney) from either Orkney Car Hire or Orkney Car rental from just £32 per day.
To the south there are a number of recommended day trips including Dunrobin Castle, the most northerly of Scotland’s Great Houses and is certainly one of the most majestic. It is the largest house in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms, and is one of Britain’s oldest continuously inhabited houses, dating in part from the early 1300s. The history of the castle is quite fascinating and has seen the architectural influences of Sir Charles Barry and latterly Sir Robert Lorimer. The castle has been used as a naval hospital during the First World War and from 1965 to 1972 as a boys’ school.
The majestic Dunrobin castle and it’s gardens an easy day trip from Far North Cottage
The falls of Shin, Salmon leaping and Loch Shin
Another easy day trip are to the Falls of Shin a truly wonderful experience for all the family. Open all year and amongst spectacular Highland Scenery, it’s well worth the journey down the Coast. After heading west along the A949 and the banks of Beautiful Dornoch Firth, Bonar Bridge you arrive at the dramatic waterfalls, where it’s famous, natural Atlantic Salmon Leap can take your breath away.
The estate is owned by Mr Al Fayed…see him for yourself as he graces the entrance courtesy of a genuine Madam Tussaud’s waxwork. The River Shin is one of the great Salmon rivers in Scotland, with the fresh, clear water – coloured slightly brown due to the natural peaty soil of the landscape – creating perfect conditions for the Atlantic Salmon, and other fish that thrive in a constant flow of fresh water. This most natural feature enthralls visitors lucky enough to witness the many Atlantic Salmon as they battle upstream at the Falls to return to their place of birth in Loch Shin and spawn the next generation. There are also countless river and forest walks, BBQ, gift shop, restaurant and a mini golf course.
To the North of the falls lies Loch Shin One of Scotland’s most picturesque & best kept secrets is found in Sutherland. Loch Shin is over 18 miles in length. Just like Loch Ness it is believed to be the home of deep mysterious creatures.
The dramatic falls of Shin, The beautiful Dornoch Firth and Bonar Bridge
The RSPB Bird Sanctuary Reserve – Forsinard
Forsinard lies in the heart of the internationally important Flow Country of Caithness and Sutherland. Comprising over 10,000 ha of ‘blanket bog’, the peat lands are best during spring and summer, with birds including golden plovers, hen harriers and greenshanks breeding on the reserve. The reserve is open at all times; visitor centre is open Easter to end of October, daily 9 am to 5.30. It is a must for all nature lovers and is easily reached from Far North Cottage via the North Coast Road and the delightful strath of Kildonan.
Smoo Cave, Durness
No stay in the Far North of Scotland is complete without a visit to Smoo Cave near Durness, on the North Coast. This huge cave set into limestone cliffs is more than 200 feet long and 130 feet wide and 50 feet high at the entrance! The cave has been carved by successive episodes of high sea level over the past several hundred years. The huge entrance, the largest cave entrance in the British Isles is more than 15 meters high and leads into a chamber more than 60 meters long and 40 meters wide. The second chamber, containing the waterfall, is about 21 meters by 9 meters and can be viewed from a specially constructed platform, the third chamber is accessible only by a small boat.
The Smoo burn Allt Smoo drops nearly 25 meters into the second chamber down a vertical shaft, the Falis Smoo or chimney Smoo as the as the sink hole in the roof is called. The burn cascades into a deep pool with a depth of around eight meters. After heavy rain, the Allt Smoo is changed into a raging torrent that crashes into the underground lochan with a gigantic roar. The “blow hole” and waterfall can be observed from an observation point above the cave.
Dunnet Bay and its wonderful golden sands
Dunnet Bays Glorious Golden sands and Brough Bay
Apart from Dunnet head itself and very local to Far North Cottage is the famous Dunnet bay golden sands where you can surf, sunbathe or build sand castles…and just 1/4 mile from Far North cottage you can watch the seals play, Eagles plunge, Puffins nest and you may even catch a glimsp Kingfishers, Otters, Basking Sharks, Dolphins, whales at Brough Bay below.
Panorama of Brough bay and it’s famous stacks
Just inland from the beautiful sands of Dunnet Bay, lies Dunnet Forest covering 104 hectares, a mature Forest well worth a visit, the forest is dominated by Sitka spruce and Lodgepole, Corsican and Mountain pine, with a few broadleaf species, such as Sycamore. Extensive, publicly accessible woodland is rare in the Northern Highlands, much work has been carried out in recent years including an all-abilities trail. The all-abilities trail has been extended to 1600m, and approx 2km of new footpaths created. In addition, a 2km horse riding trail, and a mountain bike “technical trail” have been constructed as well as a number of wood and stone sculptures in the forest.
The amazing Dunnet Forest and it’s trails and footpaths
Local area Information
The nearest restaurants / Inns are The Inn at John O’Groats and the Seaview Hotel John O’Groats Tel 01955 611220 (Approx 1.5 miles) Within 10 and 15 miles there is also the Northern Sands Hotel, Dunnet and the Castle Arms Hotel, Mey www.castlearms.co.uk both serving fine food and drink with extensive menus offering locally produced ingredients.
The nearest Petrol stations, shops are in Castletown (approx 14) or Wick The nearest large town is Wick (16 miles) with shops, supermarkets, restaurants, swimming pool, Golf Course, Leisure Centre, cinema, doctor and vet. Castle Mey (7 miles ). Dunnet Head (12 miles) Duncansby stacks (2 miles) The nearest un-spoilt golden bathing beach is Dunnet bay (12 miles) The area is famous for its range of loch, river and sea fishing. Permits and boat hire on lochs available for salmon, sea trout, brown trout and numerous sea varieties, various, seaside, cliff top, and country walks…on your door step or just round the corner.
Crystal clear waters, Thurso (Royal Burgh) Dunnet Bay, Berriedale and the pretty village of Brough
Self Catering Accommodation – near John O Groats
The Smiddy Cottage is easily accessed from the A836 trunk road with off road parking for 2 cars. Refurbished yet retaining much of it’s original charm the Smiddy offers very comfortable accommodation with all 21st century Luxury, Full double glazing and total control electric heating throughout. Its thick stone walls keeping out the cold winters and oppressive summer heat waves away.
The Cottage features a modern airy open Plan Living, Kitchen and Dining Room area with relaxing sofas, and flat screened TV / DVD
The Luxury fully fitted kitchen includes washing machine, fridge/freezer, microwave oven, Kettle, Toaster, Crockery, Utensils and all Cutlery
Double Bedroom one with En-suite toilet/shower Room, ample hanging and drawer space
Double Bedroom two with “Jack and Jill” En-suite toilet/shower/bath room, ample hanging and drawer space
The Corridor links living and sleeping rooms and has a Vestibule reception area and the corridor also has two large walk in cupboards.
Sorry no pets, no Pets are allowed at this property
Outdoors – the Large grassy back garden leads down to sea shore. The Smiddy is situated on the sea shore 1.5 miles from John, O’Groats midway between the Orkney ferry terminals at John O,Groats and Gills Bay.
All Mobile networks have good coverage here and WiFi is available if required.
“Fantastic views” out to the Orkneys and the Pentland firth from the comfort of this holiday cottage. Further information available on this area available at www.caithness.org
One of the advantages of the Smiddy Cottages Far North location and the absence of street lamps presents regular sightings of the Northern lights “Aurora Borealis”. With good timing you have a good chance of experiencing one of the world’s most magnificent natural phenomena: the Northern Lights. The Northern night sky dancing with red, yellow, green, blue and violet streamers, arcs and rays. The best time to see the Northern lights is in the months of October, November, December and January between 10 pm and 3 am. If you don’t see the Northern Lights, then at least you’ll see the stars – many, many more than you’ll see from anywhere less remote. The longer you look up, the more stars will appear !
Owners Direct Website for – The Smiddy John o Groats Caithness Northern Highlands – Listed since 2017
Lowest Season Weeks from £325, Highest Season Weeks £575, Christmas / New year POA – 3 and 4 night short breaks also available
Hire charges only include all Heating, Electricity, Towels and Bedding.
Pet Friendly ? really sorry this property does not allow Pets.
Telephone Enquiries 09:00am to 22:30pm – 0345 319 1045 / 07885 211787
General enquiry – please note this does not constitute a booking