Castle of Mey


The Castle of Mey, a big crowd-puller for its Queen Mother connections, is 6 miles west of John O’Groats. The exterior is grand but inside it feels domestic and everything is imbued with the Queen Mum's character. The highlight is the genteel guided tour, with various anecdotes recounted by staff who once worked for her. In the grounds there’s a farm zoo, an unusual walled garden that’s worth a stroll and lovely views over the Pentland Firth.

The castle normally closes for a couple of weeks at the end of July for royal visits; Prince Charles often comes here in summer. There may also be limited April openings; check the website.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Caithness attractions

1. Dunnet Bay Distillery

4.66 MILES

There's something rather fetching about this small-batch distillery on the main road through Dunnet. The very tasty Rock Rose gin and Holy Grass vodka are…

2. Seadrift

4.89 MILES

Backing the dunes of Dunnet Bay, this is a small wildlife display and base for local rangers, who organise walks in summer.

3. Mary-Ann's Cottage

5.16 MILES

Mary-Ann lived in this 19th-century croft, on the headland near the main road, for nigh on a century. In-depth guided tours take you round her humble but…

4. Dunnet Bay

5.45 MILES

Just west of the Dunnet headland, the sweeping curve of Dunnet Bay offers one of Scotland’s finest beaches, backed by high dunes and a campsite. Rangers…

5. Dunnet Head

5.69 MILES

Eight miles east of Thurso a minor road leads to dramatic Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on the British mainland. There are majestic cliffs…

6. Duncansby Head

7.19 MILES

Two miles east of John O'Groats, Duncansby Head has a small lighthouse and 60m-high cliffs sheltering nesting fulmars. A 15-minute walk through a sheep…

7. Longhope Lifeboat Museum

9.28 MILES

At the southern end of Hoy, Longhope’s former lifeboat launching station holds a small lifeboat museum, centred around one of the old boats itself, the…

8. Hackness Martello Tower & Battery

11.2 MILES

Built during the Napoleonic Wars, when French ships passed through the Pentland Firth to prey on North Sea merchant vessels, this battery, accompanied by…