Noss Head and Castle Sinclair Girnigoe.

Start. Staxigoe.

Route. Staxigoe - Elzy Road - Field of Noss Farm - Scholl - Noss Head - Sandy Geo - Castle Sinclair Girnigoe - Castle car park - Roadside Cottages - Staxigoe.

Notes. Two for the price of one, Castle Girnigoe built in the 13th century and Castle Sinclair dating back to the 17th, a sentinel guarding the southern end of Sinclair Bay. As castles go this stands in one of the most dramatic locations in Scotland, perched on a small sandstone stack between two geos, open to the worst of Scotland's weather. The wild and windswept coastline has much to offer, so on a not so wild and windswept day we headed out of Staxigoe to sample it’s delights.

Staxigoe a former fishing village named “the inlet of the stack”by our Norse forefathers, the stack guards an entrance to the small harbour. We parked near the delightful little harbour in the village hall car park, a dead straight lane, Elzy Road leads to Field of Noss Farm, our guide into the promised land. Yellow arrows guided us through the farm yard depositing us on the cliff top path, the scenery along this stretch of coast is stunning. Rocky headlands, small bays sandwiched between shear cliffs, seals lazily bobbed around in the water.

Our route passed through open rough pastures, with every step Noss Head lighthouse grew larger. As the path swung away from the coast a gate allowed access to the lighthouse grounds, then another to the access track, we crossed said track, passed through the next gate then followed the path to a stile, here we exited the lighthouse grounds re-joining cliff top paths. If the scenery of earlier was spectacular this was mind blowing, the views phenomenal, the cherry on the cake a ruinous castle under renovation.

The path guided us over some spectacular cliffs, above Sandy Geo we wandered, stopping many times to drink in the scenery. Once at the castle we had a wander around, as it’s under renovation and has been on and off for a number of years our access was limited, it didn't’t take much inspiration to imagine what the castle would have been like in it’s hay day. Our interest sufficiently satisfied we followed the castle’s access track to a small car park, now please follow my advice.

If you follow in our footfall don’t do as we did, re-trace your steps back down the coast, we foolishly followed our guide book which insisted on taking the narrow tarmac lane back to Staxigoe. Two and a half miles of boring tarmac walking, dead straight and flat, by the time we’d reached the village a great day had turned sour, next time it’s back along the coast for us.

view route map.


Approaching Field of Noss Farm looking to Noss Head lighthouse.

Views across the flatlands of Caithness, the fertile coastal plane.

Super silvery seascapes with the houses of Staxigoe silhouetted across the skyline.

Exploring the ragged coast line between Staxigoe and Noss Head.

Many inlets and small bays cut into this stretch of coast, no prizes for spotting the seal, every inlet had one.

Noss Head lighthouse raised in 1849 by a Mr Arnot of Inverness, carefully watched over by Alan Stevenson of the lighthouse building dynasty.

Near the lighthouse enjoying a stunning view over Sinclair's Bay.

Sue soaks up the atmosphere.

Sea stack at Sandy Geo.

Seen over a massive gash cutting into the headland Castle Sinclair Girnigoe.

Another stop to drink in stunning views over Sinclair's Bay.

Approaching Castle Sinclair Girnigoe looking back across the jagged edge where land meets sea to Noss Head lighthouse.

I wasn't joking when I said this was a spectacular location.

I'm probably wrong but at a guess I'd say the stonework in the foreground is 13th century Castle Girnigoe, the sandstone corner stones belong to Castle Sinclair.

Views across Sinclair's Bay, the pale grey headland on the far horizon being Duncansby Head and the famous stacks.

Now the boring bit.

Bet you didn't expect the far north of Scotland to be this flat, I didn't.

Staxigoe seen over cow pastures.

Wind Vain overlooking Staxigoe Harbour.

"The inlet of the stack" the stack is vanishing out of shot to the right, the harbour, well just perfect.

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