What an impressive location! It combines architecture, history and nature.
Castle Sinclair Girnigoe is in ruins but you can still imagine its past splendor right on the cliffs.
Below is my guide to help you plan your visit with map, tips and photos.
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Why visit Castle Sinclair Girnigoe in Scotland?
Located in the Caithness region, the Sinclair Girnigoe Castle Scotland is now in ruins but still impressive.
The fort was built right on the cliffs and you can still see how it was integrated with nature.
Quite a unique place to visit! One of my favorite castles in Scotland!
Video - Virtual Tour
Below is a short video to give you an idea of what your visit could look like - get a virtual tour!
Short history of the Girnigoe Castle & Restoration
The Clan Sinclair has occupied this site since at least the late 14th century. Not much is known about the early years of the castle.
In the 17th century a lot of the castle was rebuilt. Later a big battle between the Glenorchy and Sinclair clans left the castle ruined.
You can understand why they built here despite the difficult wind conditions. This is a great defensive position.
The Clan Sinclair trust is trying to investigate and consolidate the site. Nature and people are doing a lot of damages. But restoration allows us to still be admiring the impressive location.
The castle is listed in the World Monument Funds.
This is what the castle used to look like. See how it was built on the cliff / promontory:
Note - Old Wick castle
In the same area (but South of Wick) is the Old Wick Castle.
The Old Wick had less ruins remaining. This is why I chose to favor the Castle Sinclair Girnigoe.
More photos after the planning tips.
PLANNING TIPS & Map - Sinclair Girnigoe Castle, Scotland
How to get to Girnigoe Castle Location - Map
- Located in the Caithness region, North East coast of Scotland
- On the peninsula North of the Town of Wick (15 min drive) at Noss head, not far from the lighthouse
- Inverness to Castle Sinclair Girnigoe = 2h30 drive
- Thurso to Castle Sinclair Girnigoe = 40min drive
- Below is a map to help you get oriented and locate the castle:
It is included in my travel guide that simplifies the planning of your road trip around Scotland:
Plan your dream trip around Scotland!
- The castle is in ruins and located on a cliff - so, wear good shoes
- Plan 30min to 1h to visit and enjoy the displays
- Carpark along the road (on the right), then there is a track on the left - 5 to 10 min walk
- Picnic tables, no toilets
- Price - Carpark and entrance are free
- Opening times - It is normally open between May and September but may be closed if the weather makes the visit dangerous.
Where to stay nearby?
The closest town is Wick - Check out the best rated accommodations in Wick.
Otherwise you may be staying in Thurso before taking the ferry to the Orkney islands - Check out the best rated accommodations in Thurso.
Need to rent a car in Scotland?
- Compare prices on my favorite platform: Discovercars.com - one of the best rated comparison sites!
- Choose the car and company you prefer (prefer a compact car for the single-lane roads)
- Consider their full coverage option - I always take it for peace of mind!
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
Noss Head lighthouse and Sinclair Castle - Carpark and Map
The Sinclair Girnigoe Castle is located on Noss Head.
The road leads you to the Noss Head lighthouse that you can see on the picture below. But it is not open for tourists.
You can park on the right.
Below is a map of Noss head and the Girnigoe Castle
Castle Sinclair Girnigoe Walk
On the left is the beginning of a track with many signs containing a lot of information about the Girnigoe Castle History and architecture.
Below is a picture of the trail to reach the castle.
A 5 to 10 min easy flat walk takes you to the cliffs.
I love it when the top of the ruins starts appearing with the sea behind it. The atmosphere of this location is truly unique.
And you reach the amazing cliffs of the Wick Peninsula - the layers of rocks are impressive:
Admiring the ruins
After a little walking, you finally see some of the ruins. And once you approach you discover how they are set up on the cliffs. It is quite impressive.
The site is full of signs with explanations about the architecture, the flora and fauna.
Here is a global view of what remains of the castle. Between war and erosion, it has lost its grandiose. But it must have been quite a sight.
I love this shot as you can see where it was built. The cliffs have the strange shape that the water has carved, looking like long tongue of rocks.
Inside the castle ruins
A small portion of the ruins can be entered as deemed safe.
A bridge takes you to the left side of the castle.
You can see up close how it was built with layers of rock that remind you of the cliffs.
The signs are really well done to help us imagine how the whole structure used to look like and how life was organized inside.
Want to see more fascinating Castles in Scotland? Here are a few:
- The impressive Edinburgh Castle Fortress - read article
- The Inveraray Castle with green walls and beautiful gardens - read article
- The Famous Eilean Donan Castle with its mountain backdrop - read article
- The fairy-tale looking castle of Dunrobin - read article
- The unique triangular castle of Caerlaverock - read article
- Or check out my list of the 16 best castles in Scotland
Planning a trip to Scotland? Check out my travel guide to help you plan it:
Plan your dream trip around Scotland!
And keep track of your own trip!
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