I don’t like to rush from place to place and set out to find accommodation where we could relax overnight before the northern most part of our trip, the Orkney Islands.
I found a property, Forss Hotel House, approximately 3.5 miles East of the town of Thurso which has a hospital, bus and rail services South and is thirty minutes to Wick with flights to Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The area around Thurso is rich and varied with mountains, lochs, rivers, coastline and beaches. Perfect for outdoor enthusiasts with mountain biking, walking, kayaking, surfing, golfing, fishing and sightings of birds of prey, deer and rare plant life. John o’Groats, one of Scotland’s best known attractions, is located about 25 miles to the east.
Forss House is a beautiful old manor set among 16 acres of formal gardens, lawns and woodland. In 2002, the hotel had recently been purchased by a young family. The linens were threadbare and the breakfast modest, but it was clean and beautiful and the staff made us feel like it was our eccentric rich Aunt’s home. I’d love to return to see the many upgrades the owners have made since then in keeping with the grand style of the house.
Walking the property we found a beautiful river with signs to not spook the fish by leaning over the water. We learned later that the hotel then catered mostly to anglers from all over the world seeking to catch and release Salmon in the Thurso and Forss rivers, as well as heading to the ocean to watch whales, porpoises and seals.
It was a pleasure to wander the property with it’s wildflower meadows and true Scottish Thistles. Another highlight of our stay at Forss Hotel House was asking for a dram of Scotch. The owner guided us to a cozy rustic room whose timber shelves were lined with hundreds of bottles of Scotch. With much to do, he simply left us in the bar unattended to marvel at how paltry our single malt Scotch supply is in Canada and to pour to our heart’s content.
Next we park the Range Rover and board a tourist bus for the Orkney Islands for history, scenic views, geneaology, anthropology and food.