Greg’s Journey to John O’Groats
Our concierge team leader, Greg Norris, recently made the trip up to John O’Groats. Find out what he got up to, and why it’s his favourite destination here.
As well as being a keen runner and cyclist, Concierge Team Leader Greg Norris, has enjoyed getting to know the ins and outs of each destination over his two years of working for Together Travel. Greg’s favourite destination is John O’Groats, so we caught up over a coffee to find out more…
Concierge Tales - Greg’s Journey to John O’Groats
John O’Groats (JOG) was the second retreat I visited since working for Together Travel and what stood out to me most is how unique it is. It’s amazing to think that you are literally on the edge of the map of Britain – you can’t get much further North without falling into the sea! Although I love relaxing on holiday, I also like to get out in the great outdoors when I’m in a new place and at JOG, there’s just so much to do. From ferry tours along the rugged coastline to historical castles which await your exploration, you’re spoilt for choice with things to do.
What was it like travelling to John O’Groats? Can you recommend any pit stops on the way to break up the journey?
The journey North from Inverness Airport is very cool. Even though it’s a 3-hour drive, it’s so enjoyable because of some of the amazing coastal scenery along this unique road – I’ve never seen anything like it before!
Here are a few of my personal favourite pit stops, which I recommend guests tie in along the way: The Storehouse of Foulis (which lies on Cromarty Bridge), is my favourite place to grab a quick panini (or something heartier!) and take in the stunning surrounding views. Dunrobin castle is also en route and is definitely a must-see. The castle itself is reminiscent of a French Château and dates back to the 1300’s. The grounds are beautiful and are perfect for a wander to stretch your legs after the flight – there are also falconry and bird of prey displays, which are truly majestic. Finally, before pulling up to JOG, I recommend a quick stop in Wick, the nearest town and about 25 minutes away from the retreat accommodation - there’s a big Tesco so it’s a great opportunity to stock up on your favourite treats.
What’s on your itinerary when you visit John O’Groats?
While you’re at John O’Groats, a ferry trip is essential. It’s the perfect way to see all of the best sights along the coast, including Duncan’s Lighthouse, the coastal stacks and of course the array of wildlife which are native to the area (cartoon-like puffins, plump seals and if you’re lucky, maybe even an Orca or killer whale!).
I would also recommend a visit to the Castle of Mey, the former home to The Queen Mother, which provides a fascinating insight into her former life.
For beach days, Dunnet is a must; miles of heavenly white sand and the perfect conditions for a touch of sunbathing, swimming or surfing - said by many to be as good, if not better, than the likes of Cornwall!
A lesser known sight I like to share with guests is Dunnet Bay Distillers (my little secret), it’s very unique and a slightly smaller operation – a great place to go if you want to learn more about the process of gin/vodka making.
Which is your favourite accommodation at JOG and why?
I would say the Sea View Lodges, as they’re so cosy in winter and provide the perfect shelter from the more intense weather. As soon as I arrive I like to spark the log fire and take in the incredible views of the Isle of Stroma and the surrounding Orkney islands through the floor to ceiling windows. There’s also your own private deck and chairs to soak up the sunshine in the summer months. All of the accommodation is very nice though – striking the right balance between contemporary and a home-from-home feel, with all the comforts and mod cons you could possibly need. Also, the welcome hamper on arrival, stuffed with the finest local produce, is always a hit with me!
What makes JOG special/ unique when compared to other Together Travel?
You really feel like you are on the edge of the world and are disconnected from the hassles of modern life. In winter, it gets dark early on and the crisp winter months provide the perfect conditions to spectate the Northern Lights, whereas, in the summertime it sometimes doesn’t go dark until 11:30pm!
When is the best time of the year to visit JOG in your opinion? And why?
June – because you miss the summer rush and the quieter surroundings means you can take advantage of the good weather. Ferries have also started their tours for the season and it’s a great time to potentially spot an Orca whale. Regardless of when you visit John O’Groats, I’m sure it will steal your heart – as it has mine.