How does a surf trip to the charming Scottish county of Caithness, home to the famous right-hander of Thurso East and plenty else besides, tickle your fancy? Here’s the lowdown on the Highlands . . .
Thurso and, err, Thurso…
World class reefs, points, slabs, beachies, something for everyone.
When to go
September to May is primetime — generally flat for the summer months, like most of Europe autumn is best as the water is warmest, days are still long and swell plentiful. December is very dark as it’s so far north.
Hooded 6mm, boots and gloves for winter. Rest of the year a decent 4mm or 5mm for longer sessions. It never gets that warm and thanks to the rivers you can get ice chunks in the line up in winter.
Your standard shortboard will see you right for most swells, but bring a couple as you might snap one. If you want to take on solid Thurso then a mid range 6’9”-7’0” pinny will help you get over the ledge.
Any swell from W round to N works in Caithness, any size too. Brims Ness makes the most of any small swell and as it gets bigger many options open up. For Thurso East a solid NW swell and rare SE wind is key.
The right hand reef at Thurso East is world class on its day; a long barrelling gem regarded as one of the best spots in Europe. The slabs at Brims and some other secret spots like Baggies and The Dump cater for the short death barrel crew.
The region occupies the North East chunk of Northern Scotland surrounded to the West and the South by Sutherland County. Unlike the rest of the region it’s not mountainous wilderness, low peat lands make up the bulk of the county and these remote areas are one of the few untouched examples of this kind of environment in the world and hence home to rare wildlife. Caithness is all about the spectacular coastline really. Ancient castles haunt the cliffs, Neolithic remains are dotted around and there’s a pervading sense of wilderness. Historically the Vikings have had more influence in the area than the Scottish clans (hence the Scandy names — Thurso is Thors river, Brims Ness is Surf Point). Getting around is easy, the roads are well maintained and empty, unless you are heading West that is, which is a single track road frequently blocked by lazy sheep.