John o' Groats
|John o' Groats|
|Scottish Gaelic: Taigh Iain Ghròt|
|Scots: John o Groats|
John o' Groats House
John o' Groats shown within the Caithness area
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross|
|Scottish Parliament||Caithness, Sutherland and Ross|
John o' Groats (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 county of Caithness, John o' Groats is popular with tourists because it is generally regarded as the most northerly settlement on the island of Great Britain, although this is not a claim made by its inhabitants and is in fact false. It is however one end of the longest distance between two inhabited points on the island of Great Britain, Land's End being the other. John o' Groats is 876 miles (1409.78 km) away from Land's End. As Land's End is on the far southern end of Great Britain, the length of Great Britain is 876 miles long. (The most northerly point on the island of Great Britain is nearby Dunnet Head). (ND202767)
John O' Groats is 690 miles (1,110 km) from London, 280 miles (450 km) from Edinburgh, 6 miles (9.7 km) miles 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.
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"; 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 (LEJOG) 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
The population of John o' Groats is approximately 300 ± 10. 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.
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" and in 2010 John o' Groats received a Carbuncle Award for being "Scotland's most dismal town".
The famous "Journey's End" signpost at John o' Groats is 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. The signs, including the "John o' Groats" roundel at the top, are removed after the photographer's booth closes for the evening so travellers arriving in the late evening or early morning may be disappointed in their quest for photographs at the signpost. It was formerly left in place until an act of vandalism resulted in the sign being deposited in the nearby sea. A free plastic signpost is situated on the wall next to the First and Last souvenir shop and the harbour.
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.
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". 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.
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
- Also: John o'Groats, John O' Groats, John O'Groats.
- John o' Groats tourist information, 29 October 2007
- "Northern outpost dubbed 'seedy'", BBC News
- "John O' Groats named Scotland's most dismal town", The Carbuncle Awards
- Community buyout could save landmark hotel, John O'Groat Journal and Caithness Courier
- Haydn's Dictionary of Dates, 1876, by Benjamin Vincent, pg 408.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article John o' Groat's House.|