Day 6: 16 August 2019 ~ Scrabster Harbour
Scrabster is the most northerly large port in mainland Britain and can be found a mile and a half north west of the centre of Thurso at the west end of Thurso Bay. It nestles in the shelter of the low grass-covered cliffs of Holborn Head which sweep round to the north and as a result Scrabster actually looks east across Thurso Bay towards Dunnet Head rather than, as you might expect, north towards Orkney, for which it serves as the main ferry terminus.
The origins of Scrabster date back to the Norse era. Such an obvious natural harbor would have been very attractive to Viking longships. The Orkney Inga Saga, written in about 1225, refers to it as Skarabolstadr. This comes from Old Norse, but exactly what it means is a matter for debate. One source says it comes from “clifftop homestead”, while others feel it more likely that it should be translated as “seagull homestead”, or even as a homestead belonging to someone whose name or nickname was “Skari”. The important common factor linking these conflicting interpretations is that they all imply there was a Norse homestead here.
Holburn Head Lighthouse
Holburn Head Lighthouse, spelt ‘Holburn’, unlike the headland which is Holborn Head, is about one kilometer (half a mile) south of the point, near Scrabster Harbour on the western shore of Thurso Bay.
Designed and built by David and Thomas Stevenson, it was completed in 1862. The tower for the light is integral with the keepers’ house which is unusual since most Scottish lighthouses are separate from the house. After entering the upper floor front doorway there is a vestibule with 2 entrances, one to the Lightkeepers House and the other to the Lighthouse Tower. There were 2 Lightkeepers houses and the Tower within the building. Separate to this was the Principal Keeper’s House.
The light was discontinued in 2003.
The Scrabster Stromness ferry route connects Scotland with Orkney Islands. Currently there is just the 1 ferry company operating this ferry service, NorthLink Ferries. The crossing operates up to 21 times each week with sailing durations from around 1 hour 30 minutes.
Thank you very much for taking the time to join me on my travels through Scotland. I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I did.
Till next time, safe travels and keep dreaming.
Have a fabulous day.