Scottish fact of the week: John o’ Groats

A cyclist surveys the scene at John o' Groats. Picture: PA
A cyclist surveys the scene at John o' Groats. Picture: PA
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DECONSTRUCTING the appeal of Caithness’ most famous village seems a rather unkind thing to do - around 112,000 visitors go to John o’ Groats because it’s John o’ Groats.

Often assumed to be Scotland’s northernmost settlement, the honour actually belongs to nearby Dunnnet Head, approximately 18km west.

Nevertheless, its symbolic status endures thanks to its famous signpost, which points visitors to a variety of far-flung locations across the UK.

The most famous of these is Land’s End, to which John o’ Groats is inextricably linked. Around 1,348 km away, the western Cornwall headland is often the finishing line (or, indeed, the starting point) for many ‘End to Enders’, as hardy travellers who make the lengthy trip across the UK are called.

The village itself, founded by Dutchman Jan de Groot in the late 15th century, is rather less illustrious than its reputation might suggest - a gift shop, a pub and The Last House Museum count among its only places of interest.

Though redevelopment plans are in place, John o’ Groats has attracted some stinging criticism, having been the reluctant recipient of the Carbuncle Award in 2010 for being Scotland’s ugliest town.

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