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Adventures Along the NC500 and Beyond - Thrumster House, Wick

Updated: Jun 26

Disclosure: We were guests for two nights at Thrumster House Bed & Breakfast. Regardless of this, please be advised that all opinions expressed in this blog post are genuine and authentically our own.

Author: Barry Pickard

Our last blog post left off in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, and after three relaxing nights in this former Pictish, and later Norse settlement, we once more crossed the Pentland Firth (which is actually a strait and not a firth) on Pentland Ferries’ ‘MV Alfred’ to the county of Caithness on mainland Scotland. This time around, the one-hour trip from St. Margaret’s Hope to Gills Bay proved to be more ‘memorable’ (a.k.a. motion sickness) as it was a windy afternoon and we had passed whirlpools on our return journey.

On a side note, we learned that one such whirlpool just north of the Island of Stroma (the most southerly of the islands in the Pentland Firth) is the Swelkie which, according to Viking legend, is caused by a sea witch turning the mill wheels to grind the salt to keep the sea salty!

With no restriction on travel within this area of Scotland and no limit on travel distance, we disembarked the ferry after 6:00pm, drove over half an hour to the township of Thrumster until arriving to a place that felt somewhat surreal - as if we were protagonists in a classic 19th century novel. We arrived in complete darkness on a chilly and rainy night to a country estate whose welcoming house lights led us from afar.

Thrumster House – Living History

Once inside Thrumster House, we were welcomed by both mother and daughter team, Islay & Catherine. They were both very generous and accommodating, and after a nice chat, we were guided to our room located on the first floor. Inevitably, my eyes wandered around as we made our way to our new home for the next two nights. There were numerous family photos decorating both the wooden tables and the piano which was near to the stairwell. Then I scanned the cozy seating area in front of the roaring fireplace and the inviting gin bottles set behind the couch ready to be sipped and savoured.

Upon entry to our spacious bedroom, it was unlike any other bed & breakfast room we had stayed before. True to its nature, the room was charming and nostalgic. The best way I can describe the moment is that I felt as if we were personal guests visiting family in a private home rather than just being typical bed & breakfast occupants. Maybe, just maybe, I got that strong feeling because Thrumster House is just that.

As described on its website, Thrumster House is “a Victorian property whose former laird house was designed to host parties of friends who would meet to enjoy all the activities associated with a family-run country estate.” And in true form, both Catherine and her mom “maintain the old-world ambiance of a traditional sporting holiday in relaxed and friendly surroundings.” As described by the hostess, the house was built in 1790 but her family took ownership of the house in 1929. Undoubtedly, both ladies are doing a spectacular job to keep the authenticity of the house, and as a result, it is living history. It should be noted that there are two bedrooms in the house itself but also three self-catering cottages in the grounds as well.

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The room had two single beds, a desk, a flat screen TV, a dressing table and mirror makeup desk, a closet, a hand washing sink, a large bookshelf and yet enough space to set up the baby’s travel cot and more space for him to play on the floor! Although not an en-suite bathroom, the large bathroom was located right next to our bedroom which had both an enormous bathtub, a shower and it had complimentary toiletries. Wi-Fi wise, the signal was strong and later that night we discovered how comfy both our beds were for a good night’s rest.

Our welcome was later followed by a lovely surprise of tea and cookies which would take place once more the following night upon our arrival from a long day of fun research in the neighboring area. A few minutes later, Catherine arrived with an alphabet jigsaw puzzle and a few toys for Ythan George. Her thoughtful gesture touched my heart. The baby was over the moon and engrossed with it all evening. Undoubtedly, excellent service is in the details.

A Royal Breakfast

Both mornings at Thrumster House were a delight and a feast! Breakfast is included in the price of one’s stay and it was nothing other than majestic. The breakfast room is no ordinary room at all. The furniture dates back to the Victorian age and the sheer size and ornate detail on the dark wooden furniture is simply stunning. As part of Thrumster House’s “Good to Go” Visit Scotland scheme, we arranged a set hour for eating breakfast in order to uphold the safety procedures of staggering eating times.

The full cooked Scottish breakfast was delicious and first class, and we very much enjoyed using the cloth napkins that obviously have been in the family for generations. Regardless of the overall impressive feeling of eating like royalty (interestingly enough the royal family was friends of the family as seen on a couple of photographs throughout the house), we still felt like pampered family guests. Such was the case on the second day during breakfast when Catherine surprisingly bought our son his favorite type of juice as there wasn’t any available on the previous morning. Her kind gesture once more touched my heart. Again, excellent service is in the details.

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Hard to Say Goodbye

Two nights at Thrumster House was not enough. I just wish we had longer to enjoy the surroundings and embrace its lovely grounds as it has its own historic broch from 300 BC. Additionally, we enjoyed the family’s dogs, Bertie and Shochad, especially Ythan George who loved interacting with them. They are so well behaved, gentle and friendly. Our time in this romantic novelist dream’s country home was nearly up. We decided to enjoy the evening by sitting next to the cozy fire and interacting with the other guest couple and their equally friendly dog until it was time to recharge for next day’s road trip back home. We will remember our experience for a long time as it was a very comfortable stay in a beautiful old historic home.

Remember, take the challenge, discover what is in your backyard, whether you live in Scotland, in the other parts of the British Isles or even Europe, venture into the fairy tale land of Bonnie Scotland.

Join us next time when our adventures continue as we take a virtual tour and tasting with Holyrood Distillery.

Don’t forget that Tailor-Made Itineraries delights in creating bespoke self-guided tours. So, if visiting Wick or the NC500 appeals to you, reach out to me by email. I would be more than happy to design a self-guided tour around your requirements incorporating Wick, or indeed, a general tour of Scotland itself.

Tailor-Made Itineraries posts every two weeks, and you can subscribe to the latest blog and newsletter here. Until then, happy reading and safe travels.


Tailor-Made Itineraries creates one-of-a-kind bespoke self-guided travel itineraries for adventurous and curious travellers.

These self-guided tours deliver a personalised and exciting holiday experience that takes the effort out of trip planning.

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