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Location Map ( geo)
Caithness Flag.png
Cameraicon.png View gallery (9)
Primary Destinations
Thurso • Wick
Other Important Destinations
John o Groats
Current Highway Authorities
(Orkney) • Sutherland
Transport Scotland Roads
A9 • A99

Caithness in Scotland is the most northerly traditional county on the British Mainland. Both Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on the UK mainland and the far more famous John o Groats lie within the county, which is now part of the Highland Council area.

Geography & Economy

The very end of the A99 at John o Groats

The landscape of Caithness is very different to that of the other Highland counties. There are no mountains for a starter, and the coast is less rugged than further south and west. It is not a flat county, however, with the gently rolling landscape of the flow country rising to a considerable height in places, and high cliffs along the coastline. There are two main towns within the county, Thurso and Wick. The former is a busier place, with passing trade from the Orkney Ferries as well as the Dounreay Site a few miles to the west. Wick can also be a busy town, being an important fishing port, founded over 200 years ago.

Away from the shore, there is some agriculture and forestry in Caithness, but the further inland you go the less fertile the ground, until it becomes the vast boggy and mainly uninhabited moorland of the Flow Country. The offshore Island of Stroma is also part of Caithness, rather than Orkney, but has been uninhabited since the 1960s.


The tortuous switchbacks on the A9 at Berriedale

Unlike in the rest of the Highlands, the road network is not confined to the coast and those valleys through which a road can be threaded. The landscape is generally flat enough to allow a sizeable network of A, B and unclassified roads criss-crossing between fields and across open moorland. These link Thurso and Wick to all of the smaller villages in the north east of the county.

The A9 follows the east coast from Helmsdale, and has to negotiate the deep valleys at Berriedale and Dunbeath. The latter is spanned by a bridge, but at Berriedale the road still has to plunge down a series of sharp bends before climbing through more hairpins on the far side. Work to improve the route is ongoing, but does not extend to the provision of a viaduct.

All non-trunk roads within the traditional county are maintained by Highland Council. The A9 and part of the A99 are managed by Transport Scotland. From the north coast, 3 ferry services (including one seasonal pedestrian ferry) cross the Pentland Firth to Orkney.

Route From To Length
A8001 Sir Georges Street Princes Street 0.05 miles View
A8002 Wick Town Wick Harbour 0.3 miles View
A836 John o' Groats Tarlogie (Dornoch Bridge) 122 miles View
A840 Sir John's Square Thurso Station 0.3 miles View
A882 Wick Georgemas Junction 14.2 miles View
A882 Wick Thurso 35.6 miles View
A88 Inverness Scrabster 157 miles View
A895 Latheron Georgemas 17 miles View
A896 Wick Town Wick Harbour 0.3 miles View
A9 Polmont, Stirlingshire (M9) Scrabster, Caithness 279 miles View
A99 Latheron John o' Groats 34 miles View
B855 Dunnet Dunnet Head 4.3 miles View
B870 Glengolly Kirk 22.6 miles View
B870 Laxford Bridge Thurso 97.5 miles View
B873 Latheron Thurso 23.0 miles View
B874 Thurso Wick Airport 22.5 miles View
B874 Wick Town Wick Harbour 0.3 miles View
B875 Reiss John o' Groats 13.5 miles View
B876 Reiss Castletown 12.2 miles View
B876 Castletown John o' Groats 14.1 miles View
B877 Olrig Street Riverside Road 0.3 miles View
B9159 High Street Harbour Road 0.5 miles View
NC500 Inverness Inverness 518 miles View
1 Dover Norwick View
North & West Highlands Route Ullapool John o' Groats 160 miles View
T1 London Scrabster View 


Primary Route
Non Primary Route
Former Motorway
Defunct Route
E Road
Future Motorway
Future Primary
Future Non Primary
Historical Route
Tourist Route
Roman Road
Unbuilt Motorway
Unbuilt Primary
Unbuilt Non Primary
National Cycle Network
Cycle Route
Eurovelo Cycle Route

JunctionsJohn o Groats
CrossingsPentland Ferry • Scrabster Ferry
RoadsA8001 • A8002 • A836 • A840 • A882 • A882 (John o Groats) • A88 (Inverness - Scrabster) • A895 • A896 (Wick) • A9 • A99 • B855 • B870 • B870 (Laxford Bridge - Thurso) • B873 (Latheron - Thurso) • B874 • B874 (Wick Harbour) • B875 (John o Groats) • B876 • B876 (Thurso - John o Groats) • B877 • B9159 • NC500 • NCN1 • North and West Highlands Route • T1 (Britain)
PlacesJohn o Groats • Thurso • Wick
MiscellaneousCrossings in Caithness • Highland Council • Junctions in Caithness
Related Pictures
View gallery (9)
30mph sign at the entrance to CastletownCaithness Flag.pngHalkirk level crossing.jpgHalkirk level crossing 2.jpgSchool warning 20mph sign in castletown
Traditional Counties of Britain and Ireland
EnglandBedfordshire • Berkshire • Buckinghamshire • Cambridgeshire • Cheshire • Cornwall • Cumberland • Derbyshire • Devon • Dorset • Durham • Essex • Gloucestershire • Hampshire • Herefordshire • Hertfordshire • Huntingdonshire • Kent • Lancashire • Leicestershire • Lincolnshire • Middlesex • Norfolk • Northamptonshire • Northumberland • Nottinghamshire • Oxfordshire • Rutland • Shropshire • Somerset • Staffordshire • Suffolk • Surrey • Sussex • Warwickshire • Westmorland • Wiltshire • Worcestershire • Yorkshire
WalesAnglesey • Brecknockshire • Caernarfonshire • Cardiganshire • Carmarthenshire • Denbighshire • Flintshire • Glamorgan • Merionethshire • Monmouthshire • Montgomeryshire • Pembrokeshire • Radnorshire
ScotlandAberdeenshire • Angus • Argyll • Ayrshire • Banffshire • Berwickshire • Buteshire • Caithness • Clackmannanshire • Dumfriesshire • Cromartyshire • Dunbartonshire • East Lothian • Fife • Inverness-shire • Kincardineshire • Kinross-shire • Kirkcudbrightshire • Lanarkshire • Midlothian • Moray • Nairnshire • Orkney • Peeblesshire • Perthshire • Renfrewshire • Ross-shire • Roxburghshire • Selkirkshire • Stirlingshire • Sutherland • West Lothian • Wigtownshire • Zetland
IrelandAntrim • Armagh • Carlow • Cavan • Clare • Cork • Donegal • Down • Dublin • Fermanagh • Galway • Kerry • Kildare • Kilkenny • Laois • Leitrim • Limerick • Londonderry • Longford • Louth • Mayo • Meath • Monaghan • Offaly • Roscommon • Sligo • Tipperary • Tyrone • Waterford • Westmeath • Wexford • Wicklow