John o’ Groats Bus

As a happy nerd, I rather like the extreme edges of the land. John o’ Groats, however, causes just a tad of irritation. Urban or indeed rural myth has it that John o’ Groats is the most northerly point on the UK mainland. That’s just plain wrong. Dunnet Head, a few miles to the west, is a couple of miles further north and holds that distinction. John ‘o Groats is a pleasant enough little place where a little harbour was created by a Dutchman called Jan de Groote back in 1496. He ran a ferry to Orkney, some 6 miles away across the Pentland Firth.

However, John o’ Groats holds the imagination of most tourists. They feel it is a place they should visit- and indeed, I have, but only the once and that as long ago as 1970. And here’s a none too good photo of me, taken that year, to prove it.


Yes, the weather was awful!

More recently, in 2004, we were heading to Orkney, using the ferry from Scrabster, which is near Thurso, to Stromness. In Thurso I spotted a bus heading for John o’ Groats and snapped a picture.


From my 1970 memories, I’d have loved it to have been a Macbrayne’s bus, an old Bedford with a big rounded snout, holding the engine in front of the driving position.  We have seen one more recently, preserved on the wonderful island of South Uist (click here). Looking back, this is probably very much an equivalent vehicle in terms of antiquity. The registration plate letter of ‘B’ tells me that this bus dates from 1984/85 so was all but twenty years old when I saw it. I’m not sufficient of a bus nerd to be able to tell you anything about the bus except that the operator was clearly called Highland.

By the way, it is still possible to travel by passenger (not car) ferry from John o’ Groats to Orkney. I’m told a very good day tour can be had.



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4 Responses to “John o’ Groats Bus”

  1. opobs Says:

    I’m sure you’re dying to know it’s a Volvo B10M-61 re-bodied with East Lancs bodywork in March 1992.

  2. Janet Says:

    My trip to John o’ Groats and Orkney was in July 2006 – before I started a blog. I loved that trip. I wrote and bound a little “book” about the experience.

    • locksands Says:

      Hi Janet

      I don’t speak so highly of John o’Groatsbecause it failed to be the most norterly or most rmots point. Pretty enough, though.

      The Orkneys, on the other hand are just fab.

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