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John o'Groats

John o' Groats

John o' Groats (Taigh Iain Ghròt in Scottish Gaelic) is a village in the Highland council area of Scotland. Once a part of the county of Caithness, John o' Groats is popular with tourists because it is usually regarded as the most northerly settlement of mainland Great Britain. The actual location of the most northerly point, however, is at nearby Dunnet Head. ()

The name John o' Groats has a particular resonance because it is often used as a starting or ending point for 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.

The punctuation and capitalisation in John o' Groats is the correct form. The space after o' appears to vary but was probably the correct older form. The town takes its name from Jan de Groot, a Dutchman who obtained a grant for the ferry from the Scottish mainland to Orkney, recently acquired from Norway, from King James IV in 1496.


The population of John o' Groats is approximately 300, ±10 (John o' Groats tourist information, 29 October 2007). The village is dispersed but has a linear centre where 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, despite criticism from the 2005 edition of backpacker's bible Lonely Planet slamming the village as a "seedy tourist trap".


The famous "Journey's End" signpost at John o' Groats is privately owned and operated by the same Penzance-based photography company which operates its counterpart at Land's End, with a fee payable for having pictures taken next to the signpost. A free 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 Canisbay Juniors. John o' Groats FC are an amateur outfit who play in the top flight of Caithness Amateur Football, they also enter a team into the Winter 7s which are played in Thurso. They are current champions of the second division. The also have the distinction of being the most northerly British mainland club. They recently won the Eoin Mackintosh Memorial Cup with a 2-1 victory over local rivals Pentland United, claiming their first major county trophy. The clubs away shirt can be purchased in the Seaview hotel in John o' Groats. Canisbay Juniors are 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 they enter teams at all age groups.


The John o' Groats House Hotel has been described by Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant as "one of the UK's most famous landmarks. It was established in 1875, but is no longer a hotel and the public bar was shut down recently as it will move across the car park to the hexagonal building where it will become a cafe/bar. That makes the building empty and locals are trying to mount a community buyout of the hotel. It was built on the ground where Jan de Groot's house lay.

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