Things to do at Dunnet Head

Guests looking to journey out of Wick for the day should definitely consider making the wee drive up to Dunnet Head. It’s 23 miles away from Mackays Hotel, making it a short but worthwhile drive. The scenery is fantastic. And it is the perfect location for nature fans.

Dunnet Head Lighthouse

Dunnet Head itself is home to a lighthouse that belongs to the RSPB Dunnet’s Head Nature Reserve. The town, a short journey south from Dunnet Head, has plenty to keep you busy too. 

Dunnet Head Lighthouse. The most northerly point of mainland Scotland
Dunnet Head Lighthouse. The most northerly point of mainland Scotland.

Birdwatching at Dunnet Head Reserve

The RSPB reserve is a beautiful coastal site with steep cliffs, coastal grasslands, and an impressive lighthouse. The charity is working hard on conservation efforts in the area. They are undertaking annual seabird monitoring to help track the breeding and survival of key breeds in the area.

Visitors to the nature reserve can expect to see fulmar, guillemot, kittiwake, puffin, and razorbill. As well as the wildlife, you can enjoy dramatic cliff drops. You can explore around the lighthouse. It is right on top of a 300ft cliff drop. It is over 100m higher than sea level. The lighthouse was built in 1831, and the buildings surrounding the lighthouse are now listed buildings.

Atlantic puffin standing in thrift with sand eels in beak
Atlantic puffin standing in thrift with sand eels in its beak

Dunnet Bay and Distillery

Once you’ve had your fill of the wonderful birds and dramatic cliff views, venture away from Dunnet Head and down to Dunnet itself. Within the town, you can continue your day out by stopping first at the Dunnet Distillery. The working distillery makes true Scottish gin and vodka.

They run regular tours around the site. Explore the distillery and learn all about how your favourite botanical flavours are infused, and take home a bottle or two to remember your day! The tours are an hour and a half long, and they only cost £15 per adult – it’s a great, inexpensive way to learn something new and explore the creation of some of the nation’s favourite drinks.

On a nice day, you can then continue your Dunnet exploration by visiting the beach. A lovely sandy beach that’s over 2 miles long, complete with grassy dunes. The placement of Dunnet Bay means that despite being one of the nation’s most northerly points, the beach is relatively shielded from the elements.

However, sometimes the wind does find its way to the bay and the sea picks up pretty quickly, making it a hotspot for surfers and watersports! Visitors may also be lucky enough to see oystercatchers, eider ducks, curlews, and ringed plovers.

Dunnet Bay Beach, Scottish Highlands

Times gone by

History buffs can also head over to Mary-Ann’s Cottage, a traditional Caithness cottage that has now been converted into a museum. It serves as a time capsule of sorts, demonstrating to visitors the ways in which people used to live way up in the most northerly parts of the United Kingdom.

When you’re done exploring all that Dunnet has to offer, you’ll be able to head back and finish a wonderful day off with fantastic food and drink at the No 1 Bistro.

Or just relax in your comfortable room here at Mackays. Enjoy some television and a nice warm shower, and prepare for your next adventure in the fantastic Scottish Highlands. The hotel will have everything you need to recuperate after a lovely trip to Dunnet and will finish your day off perfectly.

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