Newcastle Photographer and Content Creator, Mandy Charlton, Always on a quest for adventure, often seen on buses, trains and planes. On a quest to be happier and healthier. Lives in Newcastle with her 3 cats, Iris, Maggie and Arthur. Loves good vibes, musicals and cakes. Full time professional wedding photographer in the north east of england alongside content creator on Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Scotland by rail part 3 - Thurso is cold!

Scotland by rail part 3, Thurso is cold, mandy charlton photographer, blogger, scottish travel

Thurso is cold, 13c cold, Britains most northerly town feels like it's closer to the arctic and indeed Scotland's most northerly islands are actually closer to the arctic than they are to London. I'm not a big fan of the cold so to feel the brisk wind and the autumnal chill in the air did not please me greatly.  Mainly I've brought with me T-Shirts so I may have to purchase another jumper.  I also smelled those first outdoor autumnal scents,possibly a testament to the most northerly situation of Thurso and also the fact that we enter into September next week.

Last night I wrote about the differences in Coronavirus polices when travelling in England and Scotland, well, I have an addendum from the far north.  I'm staying at Thurso House, a cosy bed and breakfast near the beach in Thurso, it's the most expensive room of my trip at £70 per night but breakfast isn't available at all due to Covid and when you check out you have to strip your bed and put it along with the towels in a bin bag which you then tie up!

I did meet the owners earlier and they're lovely and also super helpful.  No information in the room that I could see but I did find a map and they'd kindly had the bus timetables printed out for me as they're all irregular due to COVID.  I really thought all of the variants in policies were down to staying in a different country but now I have no idea as it seems to vary from place to place.  It's great that each place wants to keep us safe I just wish there was a standard set of guidelines so you knew what to expect when travelling.

Scotland by rail part 3,Thurso is cold, Mandy Charlton, photographer, blogger

The Far North Line

This mornings journey to get to Thurso from Inverness was everything I had imagined and more.  The station at Brora was one highlight as the train goes down the main street right in front of people's front doors on it's way into the Highland village station.  Altnabreac station was literally in the middle of nowhere, I couldn't see a single house, just barren heather covered hillsides. Apparently when you travel on the far north line you can see lots of wildlife like stags and seals but I think they may all have been hiding today.

If you haven't done the rail journey between Inverness and Thurso, I really recommend taking the day to do it, yes it takes 4 hours but it's incredible.  You're so close to the coast you can almost dip your toes in the water and at points you're so high and remote you wonder why they decided to put some of the stations in place.  The train was not busy but there were other passengers, with only 4 journeys a day there seemed to be more locals than tourists on the train and arriving in Thurso there were maybe 20 people getting off the train.

Thurso, Britain's most northerly town

If you're expecting a large sprawling metropolis when you get to Thurso you'd be mistaken, it may be Britain's most northerly town but it's much more like a large English village.  It feels like stepping back in town, i'm not sure if it's much quieter than usual but arriving on a Wednesday afternoon to businesses which were closed for a half day felt very like staying with my granny in the 1980's.  That's not necessarily a bad thing of course, I came for a gentle pace of life and that's what I got.  I did a lovely riverside walk that took around an hour and then I added on a trip to the ruins of Thurso castle, accessible by walking through an inauspicious industrial estate but worth the walk.

Scotland by rail part 3, Thurso is cold, mandy charlton photographer, castle and rail travel

Thurso feels remote, you stand at the end of the harbour looking out to the nearby Orkney Islands and you feel like you're standing at the end of the earth and in a way you are, you know all those lumpy bumpy bits that stick out on the map of the British Isles, well if you come to Thurso you can say you stood on them, this is literally where the map runs out and any further you'll be swimming in the cold clear waters of the Pentland Firth.

Tomorrow I plan to get the bus to Wick, To John O Groats and I'm going to walk from John O Groats to the lighthouse at Duncansby Head, the northeasterly point of mainland Britain, I hope to feel like I'm standing on the edge of the world.

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