John o' Groats

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John o' Groats
Scottish Gaelic: Taigh Iain Ghròt
Scots: John o Groats
John o' Groats.JPG
John o' Groats House
John o' Groats is located in Caithness
John o' Groats
John o' Groats
 John o' Groats shown within the Caithness area
Population 310 
OS grid reference ND380734
Council area Highland
Lieutenancy area Caithness
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WICK
Postcode district KW1
Dialling code 01955
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross
Scottish Parliament Caithness, Sutherland and Ross
List of places
UK
Scotland

Coordinates: 58°38′N 3°04′W / 58.64°N 3.07°W / 58.64; -3.07

John o' Groats[1] (Taigh Iain Ghròt in Scottish Gaelic) is a village in the Highland council area of Scotland. It is often called "The start of Great Britain" as John o' Groats is on the northeastern tip of Scotland. Part of the historical county of Caithness, John o' Groats is popular with tourists because it is one end of the longest distance between two inhabited points on the island of Great Britain, being on the north east end, with Land's End being the other end, 876 miles to the south west. It is not quite the most northerly point on the island of Great Britain because nearby Dunnet Head is further north.

John o' Groats is 690 miles (1,110 km) from London, 280 miles (450 km) from Edinburgh, 6 miles (9.7 km) from the Orkney Isles and 2,200 miles (3,500 km) from the North Pole. It is 4.25 miles (6.84 km) from the uninhabited island of Stroma.

A passenger ferry operates from John o' Groats to Burwick on South Ronaldsay in Orkney.[2]

Name[edit]

The town takes its name from Jan de Groote, a Dutchman who obtained a grant for the ferry from the Scottish mainland to Orkney, recently acquired from Norway, from James IV, King of Scots, in 1496. The lower case and apostrophe in "John o' Groats" are regarded by many as correct, as the "o'" means "of" and thus is not cognate with Irish names that begin with O', even though that usage also denoted "of"[citation needed]; but the name can be found with the capital and/or without the apostrophe. People from John o' Groats are known as "Groatsers". Local legend has the name John o' Groats termed to reflect the Dutch ferryman's charge of one groat payment for the journey to the islands.

The name John o' Groats has a particular resonance because it is often used as a starting or ending point for cycles, walks and charitable events to and from Land's End (at the extreme south-western tip of the Cornish peninsula in England). The phrase Land's End to John o' Groats is frequently heard both as a literal journey (being the longest possible in Great Britain) and as a metaphor for great or all-encompassing distance, similar to the American phrase coast to coast.

Demography[edit]

The population of John o' Groats is approximately 300 ± 10.[3] The village is dispersed but has a linear centre with council housing, sports park and a shop which is on the main road from the nearest town of Wick.

Aerial view

Tourism[edit]

John o' Groats attracts large numbers of tourists from all across the world all year round. Not all commentary is good — in 2005 a popular tourist guide, Lonely Planet, described the village as a "seedy tourist trap"[4] and in 2010 John o' Groats received a Carbuncle Award from Urban Realm magazine for being "Scotland's most dismal town".[5] 2013 however saw the completion of major redevelopment work which hopes to revitalise the area.[6]

Signpost[edit]

Signpost at John O'Groats - geograph.org.uk - 64989.jpg

The famous "Journey's End" signpost at John o' Groats was until 2013 privately owned and operated by the same Penzance-based photography company that operates its counterpart at Land's End, with a fee payable for having pictures taken next to the signpost. With the re-opening of the Hotel, a new permanent (and free) sign was erected.[7]

Sport[edit]

John o' Groats is home to two football clubs: John o' Groats and John O Groats Juniors. John o' Groats FC is an amateur team which plays in the top flight of Caithness Amateur Football; it also enters a team into the Winter 7s which are played in Thurso. They also have the distinction of being the most northerly clubs on the island of Great Britain. Canisbay Juniors is the "feeder" team to John o' Groats FC, with many of the key first team players having played for the juniors side at one time; they play in the youth development leagues in Caithness where the club enters teams in all age groups. The John O Groats Juniors Under 15s of 2012 were regarded as the best in the county and best ever junior Groats side.

Hotel[edit]

The John o' Groats House Hotel was built on or near the site of Jan de Groot's house and was established in 1875. It has been described by Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant as "one of the UK's most famous landmarks".[8] It was closed for several years and fell into disrepair until undergoing a radical transformation by Edinburgh based architects GLM for self-catering holiday specialists Natural Retreats. It reopened for business in August 2013.[9]

John o' Groat's House was an ancient house believed to be situated in front of the present hotel and was mark with a flagpole now removed, deriving its name from John of Groat, or Groot, and his brothers, originally from Holland, said to have settled here about 1489. The house was of an octagon shape, being one room, with eight windows and eight doors, to admit eight members of the family; the heads of different branches of it, to prevent their quarrels for precedence at table. Each came in by this contrivance at his own door, and sat at an octagon table, at which, of course, there was no chief place or head.

Haydn's Dictionary of Dates[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Also: John o'Groats, John O' Groats, John O'Groats.
  2. ^ John O'Groats ferry website
  3. ^ John o' Groats tourist information, 29 October 2007
  4. ^ "Northern outpost dubbed 'seedy'", BBC News
  5. ^ "John O' Groats named Scotland's most dismal town", The Carbuncle Awards, Urban Realm (accessed 2014-08-19).
  6. ^ "John O'Groats: a new starts for the end of the road", The Guardian, 31 August 2012.
  7. ^ "Signs of the times for John O'Groats' old landmark". heraldscotland.com/. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  8. ^ Community buyout could save landmark hotel, John O'Groat Journal and Caithness Courier
  9. ^ "The Inn At John O'Groats". naturalretreats.com. Retrieved 2014-01-09. 
  10. ^ Haydn's Dictionary of Dates, 1876, by Benjamin Vincent, pg 408.

External links[edit]