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Include or Exclude Thurso

Cullman, Alabama
Level Contributor
691 posts
60 reviews
Include or Exclude Thurso

We are planning a pretty full 14 day trip to Scotland that will start in Edinburgh and include stops in Glasgow, Harris, Lewis, Inverness, Mull. Glen Nevis and the castle tour area. We were wondering about whether we should include Thurso or if that would be too much in 14 days.

We also were wondering what the main attractions to the Thurso area of Scotland are as it seems a bit distant from other points. Our interests vary but clearly include historical buildings/castles and natures beautiful sites such as can be seen thoughout Scotland.

Appreciate posters comments about Thurso.

London, United...
Level Contributor
33,542 posts
78 reviews
1. Re: Include or Exclude Thurso

To me, the main attraction of Thurso is the unbeatable drive around the west coast to it.

View after view unfolds along the way. Mountains seem to rise straight up from peat bog landscapes that go on for miles.

Ben Hope...Arkle....Cul Mor...the Torridons....Applecross...Assynt....Stac Polly....etc, etc, etc.

Not much to detain you in Thurso but you could have a great time getting there.

Scotland, United...
Destination Expert
for South Ayrshire, Glasgow
Level Contributor
15,056 posts
323 reviews
2. Re: Include or Exclude Thurso

In fairness to Thurso there are one or two things of interest in the area. The river Thurso is famous for its salmon fishing - something the Queen Mother knew much about - her Summer retreat the Castle of Mey is just down the road and an absolute delight - seewebsite: www.castleofmey.org.uk.

Also for more information on the area try looking at the award winning community website: Caithness.org

Mustn't forget to mention that Thurso is now becoming an established extreme surf destination and has recently hosted a world class surfing competition - not sure what the season for surfing is though - its for the real officionados or the certifiably mad!

The views of Orkney from the beach, especially on a stormy day are something to behold, and a stroll along Dunnet Beach is a pleasant way to while away an hour or so.

There is a hotel just out of town that has a staggering selection of whiskies - can't remember the name sorry.

Austin
Level Contributor
924 posts
11 reviews
3. Re: Include or Exclude Thurso

I agree with the other two posters about the area around Thurso, especially about the Castle of Mey and the drive around the west coast. Yet, as a person who LOVES that part of Scotland, I would say skip it.

Your itinerary seems very full already. Edinbugh and Glasgow will take up so much of your time, and Harris, Lewis etc. have so much to see, too.

If you ever visit the Orkneys someday, then you will have no choice but to visit Thurso. (Most people visit Thurso because they are taking the ferry to Orkney.) The drive to Thurso from Inverness offers much to see and do, including Dunrobin Castle, the town and cathedral of Dornoch, the Glenmorangie distillery and several prehistoric sites.

Last summer we spent eleven days in Sutherland, Caithness and the mainland of Orkney, and it wasn't enough time. Durness, which I'd never been to before, was absolutely stunning (and deserved more than the one night we stayed there). We did an amazing hike on the bluffs and even spotted puffins through binoculars. Unfortunately, we didn't even make it to nearby Smoo Cave because of the hike. The road on the northwest coast is single-track which will ensure that you take your time to enjoy the scenery. We averaged about 25 miles an hour.

My favorite website:

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/

Cullman, Alabama
Level Contributor
691 posts
60 reviews
4. Re: Include or Exclude Thurso

Appreciate everyones input about Thurso. Sounds like a beautiful drive getting there but we will pass it until we can come see Orkney or the Shetland islands another time.

I would also appreciate reading some further thoughts about our upcoming trip. 14 days including arrival and departure goes very quickly and I do not want to feel very rushed nor do I want to spend a whole day in a car driving.

I read here that Edinburgh and Glasgow will take up a good bit of our time and I have been told not to miss Lewis/Harris and the Castle tour. Inverness I also hear is quite lovely.

More comments about adjustments to our schedule and places/cities that you would exclude or include would be even more appreciated.

Austin
Level Contributor
924 posts
11 reviews
5. Re: Include or Exclude Thurso

One option would be to spend a good week or more in Edinburgh and make a few daytrips. I did that on my second and third visits to Edinburgh. (Third time I spent a month and enjoyed myself at the Edinburgh International Festival.) My most memorable excursions were to St. Andrews and Stirling. Even if you don't golf (or can't afford the fees), the old course at St. Andrews is stunning.

Next time I visit Edinburgh I plan to use Alison Weir's excellent book about Mary, Queen of Scots and the murder of Lord Darnley as a guide.

I think Inverness has become slightly run-down (although I know some people will disagree). I've been visiting Inverness since I was a small kid living in England, though, and on our visit last summer I was sadly surprised at the empty storefronts. "Redevelopment" in the sixties was the worst thing to happen to Inverness as many lovely old buildings were replaced by ugly blocks. It is, however, a great base for visiting the highlands and there are many sights within thirty miles. One big plus, however, is that Inverness's food situation has greatly improved!

Oregon
Level Contributor
310 posts
17 reviews
6. Re: Include or Exclude Thurso

I would agree that you need to see Orkney, Caitness and Sutherland on its own trip. Orkney in particular has the most amazing historical sights, villages uncovered after hundred of years etc. You do not need to go to Thurso for a ferry to Orkney, there is a quicker (and cheaper) ferry from John O Groats to Orkney, and you can see the northern most contiguous place in the UK, John O Groats and The Last House in Scotland. The drive up the West Coast is spectacular indeed, but VERY slow, many roads are one car wide, with lay-bys for passing. It is a fairly quick trip up the east coast to Wick, an old fishing town, much prettier than Thurso, as it has a working harbour.

PS A week in Glasgow is a bit too long, personally dont find much of interest there, apart from the University and dirty slums. OK there are nice parts too. Edinburgh is very pretty and quite a lot of historical interest (some slums too!!) The east coast of Fife is quite beautiful, with little fishing villages, where you can buy fresh fish & crabs, right out of the sea. Makes me nostalgic, I was born in Scotland and goback nearly every year.

Scunthorpe, United...
Level Contributor
1,734 posts
77 reviews
7. Re: Include or Exclude Thurso

The pedant in me drives me to point out that the most northerly point on UK mainland isn't John o' Groats but Dunnet Head, and you don't have to go to Thurso to get to Orkney because you can sail from Aberdeen.

And much as I like Thurso and the north coast I would suggest it would be too much in an already busy itinerary.

The Stunning...
Destination Expert
for Scottish Highlands, Crete
Level Contributor
27,041 posts
398 reviews
8. Re: Include or Exclude Thurso

If I was going to Orkney I 100% would not sail from Aberdeen but from Scrabster, having said that unless I was heading to Orkney I too would give Thurso a miss.

The Stunning...
Destination Expert
for Scottish Highlands, Crete
Level Contributor
27,041 posts
398 reviews
9. Re: Include or Exclude Thurso

p.s. Or either of the other two Northern ferries

Scunthorpe, United...
Level Contributor
1,734 posts
77 reviews
10. Re: Include or Exclude Thurso

"If I was going to Orkney I 100% would not sail from Aberdeen but from Scrabster"

In which case, depending on where you were coming from and at what time of day, you might have to spend an extra night on the mainland.

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