Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Four Corners: Dunnet Head and Lowestoft

I have not yet been to the four corners of Scotland - only the Mull of Galloway. St Kilda, Muckle Flugga and Out Skerries await. But I have been to the four cardinal corners of mainland Britain. So here's my impressions...

Dunnet Head

Everybody has heard of Lands End to John O'Groats, abbreviated to LEJOG by long distance walkers and cyclists (or JOGLE if they are heading in the less popular southerly direction). What you might not know is that both Lands End, and John O'Groats, are massive frauds. Lands End, for example, is not the furthest place in Britain from John O'Groats – Gwenapp Head, a few miles south, is surely marginally further. It may be the westernmost point in England, but not mainland Britain: that is Ardnamurchan Point. It is certainly not the southernmost point.

And what of John O'Groats? It has even less claim to singularity than Lands End. Duncansby Head, a few miles away, is marginally further from Gwenapp Head, as well as being considerably more scenic than John O'Groats. However it is the largely unknown Dunnet Head that should be best known. This is the northernmost point on the British mainland. It is an imposing headland, a great pile of old red sandstone rearing up between the Pentland Firth and the flat grey farmland of Caithness.

Dunnet Head from the Stromness ferry:

Dunnet Head in early summer is home to puffins, and as the lighthouse building has been converted into a music recording studio, the faint sound of drums can occasionally be heard amongst the call of fulmars and wind. A great place to concentrate on your music, miles from the nearest facilities of any kind. You can see the Old Man of Hoy from Dunnet Head and, on a clear evening, get a great view west towards Ben Loyal, Ben Hope, and Foinaven. All without any tourist crowds whatsoever.

Dunnet Head lighthouse and distant Orkney:

Dunnet Head. It’s better than John O’Groats.


All the four corners of Britain have their own character, and all are worth visiting. Except one.

Lowestoft Ness (source, Wikipedia):

Can you guess which one yet? Ness Point is the easternmost point of the low-lying bulge of East Anglia, but unlike some parts of Norfolk and Suffolk, is not redeemed by a wide beach or charming village, but the down on its luck town of Lowestoft. To reach Ness Point from the station, head past the panhandling junkies outside, past the port and, on the other side of a small industrial estate, you'll find, on a low, windy promenade, the easternmost point of the British mainland.

Lowestoft's charm is in its authenticity and it's proper working port. None of your antique dealers and organic deli nonsense here.

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