Whaligoe Steps

Whaligoe Steps is a gem of a place to visit. Descending into a harbour surrounded on three sides by 250ft cliffs that form Whaligoe Haven, the steps take you past the nesting sites of Rock Doves, Fulmars and many other seabirds, with wildflowers flourishing all around. At the bottom I sat amazed and looked across at nesting birds for quite a long while. I’ve never been so close to a Razorbill or Shag and they seemed completely calm about it. One Razorbill even flew over to take a closer look at me. Black Headed, Black Backed and Lesser Black Backed gulls swooped through and above the harbour, along with Kittiwakes and Common Gulls, and Fulmars riding the air currents up and down the cliff sides with easy grace. Guillemots fluttered by. Cormorants and Divers swam out in the bay.

Harbours are scarce along the Caithness coast, and so the story goes that the residents were forced to use Whaligoe as a fishing station, apparently naming it after a dead whale that washed ashore there. The steps themselves are an impressive feat and well maintained. There are supposed to be somewhere between 330-365 of them, but I forgot to count in my excitement. I was escorted down by a local cat that seemed to come from the very conveniently placed cafe at the top and was very friendly company.

I recommend going in good weather, those steps could be very slippery when wet!

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