Port Profile: Scrabster, Scotland

Learn everything you need to know about cruise destinations under Avid Cruiser’s Port Profiles section (you’ll find a tab above on the navigation bar). Each week, we’ll provide one or more port profiles for those are planning trips or for those who need inspiration to do so. Today’s feature, Scrabster, Scotland.

Prinsendam and Hebridean Princess joining a ferry and a cargo vessel in the port of Scrabster

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Overview

For anyone not familiar with northernmost Scotland, it could come as a surprise that the area has been compared to Hawaii. Not because visitors are greeted with wreaths of flowers, but because of the power of the waves that come rolling in from the stretch of sea that separates Scotland and the Orkney Islands: the Pentland Firth.

Such is the character of the waves here that surfing is a popular pastime among the locals. Competitions held at Thurso East, one of the beaches in the region, have attracted some of the best surfers in the world.

Thurso is the northernmost town on the British mainland, and the second largest town in the Scottish Highlands. It is situated within walking distance from Scrabster, which is where visiting cruise ships dock.

Most passengers on board calling cruise ships probably come with the intention of visiting the most northerly part of the Scottish Highlands – an almost iconic area that can conjure up many images. Kilts and clans; history and heritage; and natural beauty and wildlife are some of the things that may spring to mind.

This is a region of the world that cannot be compared to anywhere else, because it is so unique. The grandiose scenery includes not only towering mountains, but also fascinating lochs and sandy beaches.

Scrabster and the surrounding region have been on the map for visitors for a long time – for different reasons. Norse settlers saw an advantage in Thurso’s strategic position, developing the town into a main port. After the Norse had left in the 13th century, Thurso continued to be an important hub for trade.

Members of the British Royal Family have been regular visitors to the region, although perhaps chiefly because of the scenic surroundings (rather than trade).

The Castle of Mey, 11 miles/18 kilometers from Scrabster, was the Highland holiday home of the late Queen Mother. When the Queen and her family went there to visit, they would disembark from the Royal yacht Britannia in Scrabster. Prince Charles continues to holiday at the castle, which is open to visitors (see below, under Do Not Miss).

And perhaps one should not be too surprised that Prince Charles returns regularly. With the majestic scenery of the northern Highlands, the area is no doubt fit for a future king.

Read Avid Cruiser’s full Port Profile featuring Scrabster.

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