Dunnet Head, Caithness

Submitted by Owen McCafferty on Sun, 2009-11-22

Dunnet Head, most British game fishing records are held, 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.

Dunnet Head offers the most wonderful evening views and sunset. Dunnet Head is a rich source of biodiversity with its wealth of birdlife and wildlife, its peat bog, and folds of Highland cattle.

The Head has been designated as a “Special Place” by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the scope of the Site of Special Scientific Interest or SSSI has recently been widened to include the area around Brough Castle.

Dunnet Head provides an ideal site for drift diving. There are multistep walls decending to over 50m. Porbeagle sharks have been encountered here adding much excitement to an already great dive site!! Surface marker bouys are always used at this site, ensuring that the surface boat cover is able to follow the dive group ready to pick them up after surfacing. The Caithness Diving Club RIB is launched from nearby Dwarwick Pier. There are shallower dive sites (~20m) on the west side of Dunnet Head and the area can provide dive sites for differing levels of diver.

Apart from Dunnet head itself 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. While Longships and Dunnet Head are dived occasionally, the Manacles Reef is one of the busiest diving locations in the south-west.

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. Explore the nature haven of Dunnet Head, the local forest, together with information about the rich history of the area.

Surface conditions permitting, drifting along the wall at Dunnet Head is more sedate. While I am intimately familiar with the canyons at Longships, Dunnet Head was a one-off dive and all new to me. Members of the Caithness Club are the real experts here, picking a startpoint well back to the south-west of the headland. The current takes divers to the north and east so that they drift out towards Dunnet Head without actually drifting round it. Further Reading: Dunnet Forest and Beach at Dunnet Bay to Dunnet Head

Nearby Thurso

Conger from harbour walls, and rock fishing. Cod, coalfish, conger, dogfish, haddock, ling, pollack, spurdog, plaice, wrasse, mackerel, dabs, whiting, rays, halibut, porbeagle shark. Thurso Bay and Dunnet head are sheltered areas. Baits – mussel and lugworm at lower water.

Diving In North East Caithness:

Scenic sea cave diving at Duncansby Head, Drift Dives at Dunnet Head, Pentland Skerries, Swona, Stroma, South Scapa Flow by RIB, Wick. – long list not been here for a while another possible for July August.

Stromness to Scrabster Ferry Orkney

Northlink Ferries run a regular car passenger ferry service from Scrabster near Thurso in Caithness to Stromness in West Orkney.The crossing takes just one and half hours and you can get some excellent views of the Caithness coastline including Dunnet Head and the Orkney island of Hoy as the ferry nears Stromness. Northink offer day trip tours from Scrabster which is a good introduction to Mainland Orkney but doesn’t give you much time for exploring all that Orkney has to offer.

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