Right at the tip of mainland Scotland, Caithness is part of the Scottish highlands, and a place where visitors can enjoy views of stunning coastline, big skies, and hills. Amongst the views, there are also memorable nature experiences available on land and the sea.
At the time of writing, non-essential hospitality and tourism businesses on mainland Scotland are permitted to open from the 26th of April 2021. Please check directly with the businesses directly for opening dates and times along with any Scottish government restrictions which apply.
When visiting any location in our county, please be respectful of the environment and local people.
The first of our nature experiences to mention is Puffin Croft. This was one of the first places that I visited when we moved to Caithness. It’s the most northerly petting farm on mainland Scotland, and there is an assortment of farm animals to see! From the 26th of April 2021, visitors are welcome to walk around the farm (£2 per person, payable in cash at the farm shop) to meet them! As you enter the farm, you should sanitise your hands, then use the handwashing station before you leave. My favourite is Mr Bingley the pot-bellied boar, but you should also look out for other animals with some very amusing names! This experience is fun for all the family.
As well as the self-guided tour, visitors can also book special farm experiences with Miss Puffin (Cara) in advance on the Puffin Croft website:
- ‘Farmer for a morning’ – An early morning experience feeding all the animals before the farm opens to the public!
- ‘Meet the animals with Miss Puffin’ – a small group tour with Cara meeting the animals, learning about the different foods and their individual needs.
CAITHNESS SEACOAST TOURS
For an exhilarating nature experience, I highly recommend joining a Caithness Seacoast trip to see a variety of seabirds along the coastline. The ‘Geo Explorer’ RIB boat takes a variety of trips to the north and south of Wick. Glimpses of marine wildlife are also possible although not guaranteed! Going in and out of the caves is a really special experience and gives a unique perspective of the coastline from the sea. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Caithness Seacoast plans to reopen from the 1st July 2021. You can read about my first 90 minute trip to Whaligoe here.
ULBSTER ALPACA TREKKING
While Caithness is well known for its cattle and livestock, it only has one nature experience where you can take a herd of male alpacas for a walk! Ulbster Alpaca Trekking offers unhurried farm visits and trekking experiences for small groups.
Alpacas are similar to llamas, though are much better natured, meaning that they are easier to handle by children. The herd are kept in separate fields for most of the time. The males are friendlier than the females, but the females come into their own if a dust bath is provided, seeing them roll around is great fun!
With both the farm visits and trekking experiences, the sessions start with a health and safety briefing, so that all group members are comfortable to spend some time with the animals. To find out more information or to book your experience, visit Ulbster Alpaca Trekking’s website.
CREATE YOUR OWN NATURE EXPERIENCES
Of course, it’s possible to create your own nature experience in Caithness, by respectfully exploring some of the lesser-known and off the beaten track spots in the county. For birdwatching, you could head to St John’s Loch near Dunnet, or the appropriately named Puffin Cove, Drumholistan (for this, please wear appropriate clothing and footwear as you walk across very boggy peatland). This TripAdvisor forum post is very helpful with detailed instructions on how to reach Puffin Cove. On both the north and east sides of the coastline during the late Spring/early summer months, marine life such as seals, dolphins and whales are often visible hunting, playing or travelling between regions. Within any of these create your own ideas, please do take your time to enjoy the unique scenery that Caithness offers!
However you experience Caithness, please be respectful of local people and the environment. #respectprotectenjoy