A hive of activity day and night, Scrabster is a busy commercial harbour near to the town of Thurso. Take a wander around to see the fishing boats and gain an insight into the local fishing industry. Scrabster is the departure point for NorthLink’s Hamnavoe ferry to the Orkney Islands.
Scrabster may look like a modern harbour today, but it has ancient origins. With a name deriving from Old Norse meaning ‘homestead of the sea mews’, it was mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga – a Norse narrative compiled between 1192 and 1206, describing the history of Orkney and Shetland and their relationship with other polities, particularly Norway and Caithness.
An important commercial fishing harbour and one of the main ports in the far north of Scotland, Scrabster lies at the very end of the A9, around 1.5 miles from Thurso. There are a small number of homes and businesses at the harbour itself, but the main settlement sits at the top of the hill overlooking the bay. It provides refuge for large and small commercial fishing vessels, alongside pleasure craft, cruise ships, and cargo ships. It is home to a commercial fish market and processing facilities.
There is a generous provision of parking in the area and the harbour provides various opportunities for fishing charters, as well as walks along the sandy beach close by, a popular destination for dog walkers, jet skiers, and sea swimmers. A short walk up the single-track road at the far end of the harbour leads up to Scrabster Lighthouse and the starting point of the walk to Holborn Head and Clett Rock.
The NorthLink passenger ferry Hamnavoe leaves Scrabster two or three times a day, sailing to Stromness in Orkney.
Scrabster is home to an impressive array of eateries: a steak house, a tapas restaurant, a seafood restaurant, and the popular Peerie Café. Look out for the ‘fake’ gargoyles on top of one of the houses near the road!
Scrabster was the birth place of George Bain, the influential Celtic artist.