Approached from the isolation of the west, THURSO feels like a metropolis. In reality, it’s a relatively small service centre visited mostly by people passing through to the adjoining port of Scrabster to catch the ferry to Orkney, or by increasing numbers of surfers attracted to the waves on the north coast. There’s little to see, but the grid-plan streets have some rather handsome Victorian architecture in the local, greyish sandstone. If you’re coming to surf, want a lesson, need to hire a board or simply fancy a coffee and home-made cake before hitting the waves, head for Tempest Surf on Riverside Road by Thurso harbour.

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