Monday, November 5, 2012

Why Thurso?

By Alexa Bourne

I've been fortunate enough to visit many places in Scotland, but one place still on my list to see is Thurso, Scotland. I'm not sure why since I haven't done much research on it or heard a lot about it or read books set there, but from pictures I've seen it just looks like a quaint little village that would wipe away all my worries and make me feel at home. Maybe I'm completely wrong. Maybe not. But this month, I thought I'd share a bit of information and maybe show you why I want to see it.
Thurso is one of the northern most towns in Scotland. It is small, and it's usually a stop along the way instead of the destination for a trip. Many people use it as a "stepping stone" on their way to Orkney. But it has shops, places to eat and, of course, an interesting history.
The name Thurso comes from Old Norse meaning Bull's River. The Vikings were here as early as the 900s, with a lot of work fishing and trading by the sea. The oldest part of the town is the Old St. Peter's Church, dating back to early 1100s. (This picture on the right is a different, prettier church, NOT Old St. Peter's.) At one point the building was open to visitors, but within the last few years it has been locked off, not allowing anyone to visit.

 In the mid to late 1900s, the Dounreay Nuclear Power Development Establishment just outside of Thurso employed about 3500 people and most of them lived in Thurso. The plant is no longer in operation and so many of the residents have moved on.

In the summer months, many surfers from all over the world descend on the town to put their skills to the test in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. From what I hear and read, this area of the country is some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Scotland. I think that's one of the reasons I really want to put this place on my "To Visit" list. (I may be biased, but I think pretty much ALL of Scotland is beautiful!) Have you had a chance to visit Thurso? What can you tell us?
(Pictures taken from and



Cpt. Desmond Cutlass said...

Having been born and brought up in Thurso I too will probably be biased. I'm 28 years old and 2 years ago I managed to move away, I have never looked back. Thurso, once, was a thriving town. Sadly it is now becoming a dying town, business is very slow, there is little to do for the masses apart from drink in the pubs or go to the reopened cinema (thank god). But don't let any of that take away from it's beauty on a sunny day, the beaches up north are gorgeous, and if you go a little further west towards Bettyhill and onwards it gets even better. I guess the weather plays a huge part in how I remember the town, there are gorgeous walks to go on (not anything official, just start walking) but the weather is often to wet, windy and cold. I really hope you have a great experience of it when you do visit because there are some wee treasures to find, also, venture to Scrabster (just outside Thurso) there is a plethora of nice places to eat: Cups Tearoom, The Captains Galley (Seafood) and The Upper Deck (best steak ever).

Victoria Roberts said...

Great post, Alexa. And thank you, Desmond, for sharing.

Alexa said...

Yes, thanks so much for more info, Desmond! And thank you, Victoria, for visiting!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I loved this post, Lexi. Of course the name of the town has always intrigued me because my last name is Urso... :)

How fun someone who grew up there came on the blog and gave us insight to the town. Sad it is dying as so many of the towns are. I hope you do get to visit so we can see your beautiful photos.

Alexa said...

I'll get there someday, altough I suspect it will be on my way somewhere else.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Love the pics, Alexa. I never think of surfers when I think of Scotland. :)