Far North Line: Inverness to Thurso and Wick
Venture north from Inverness, tracing the North Sea coast past distilleries, salmon rivers and golf courses to Thurso and the once-mighty fishing port of Wick.
Take the train to the far north and you begin to see how wild and remote Scotland can be. The peat bog stretches for miles, and the train stops at the most unlikely stations on its way to the country’s northernmost train station, Thurso. You’ll see the vast expanse of the Flow Country, one of the RSPB’s prize peat habitats – and cross the finest salmon fishing rivers in Scotland.
And then, of course, there’s the short hop by bus to John O’Groats, the most northerly inhabited point on the mainland. If that’s not quite north enough for you, get the train to Thurso and the ferry to Orkney from nearby Scrabster.
Look out for
- Skibo Castle – look across the Dornoch Firth, just after Tain
- Carbisdale Castle – shortly after Culrain
- Balblair Wood – on the shores of Loch Fleet, halfway between Rogart and Golspie
Consider stopping at
- Invergordon – for its astonishing murals telling the stories of the local Highland communities
- Tain – to cross the Dornoch Firth and see the 13th century cathedral and excellent golf course
- Dunrobin Castle station – impressive seat of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland. Show your ticket to get discounted entry
The route: to the far north...
The line coasts along the southern bank of the Beauly Firth on the way to Muir of Ord and Dingwall, where the main line splits to the north and west.
The Far North Line takes the right fork, north into Ross and Cromarty, bound for Sutherland and Caithness beyond.
As the carriage sweeps up the shore of the Cromarty Firth you’ll see Foulis Castle and the town of Invergordon, which has an intriguing series of murals commissioned by the local communities – from the lifeboats to the Anglers’ association.
This stretch of the coast has plenty of whisky distilleries: you’ll pass Teaninich, Dalmore and Whyte & Mackay’s Invergordon site, as well as Glenmorangie in Tain, and Balblair.
The line swings inland, but returns to the coast for a stop at Dunrobin Castle station, just a short distance from the impressive castle itself.
You’ll travel onwards past Helmsdale to Altnabreac – where things really begin to feel remote. From there it’s not far to Georgemas Junction where the train heads north first to Thurso, and then returns east to Wick.
Whether you choose to stop at Thurso, the most northerly station in the British Isles, or explore the old herring port of Wick, this is an adventure right to the very northern edges of the mainland.
- Catch the ferry to Orkney from Scrabster, near Thurso
- Catch the bus to John O’Groats, the most northerly inhabited point on the mainland
- Head for Dunnet Head, the most northerly tip of the mainland
- Spirit of Scotland travel pass : 1-2 weeks of train, bus and coach travel covering the whole country
- Highland Rover : explore the North and West Highlands over a week by train, bus and coach
- Rail & Sail : combine train and ferry travel
- Kids for a Quid tickets : for every paying adult, up to four children aged 5-15 can travel for £1 each
- Railcards : see if you could save with a national or regional Railcard