I was staying in Thurso today, having got up late due to the drinks at the pub the night before, and a period of very heavy rain this morning which persuaded me to stay in my sleeping bag.
Thurso is the most northerly town on the British Mainland, and has a population of around 9000 people. Thurso was founded over 10 centuries ago by Viking Earls. In the ancient Norse tongue it was Torsaa (Thor's River).
Near the river I found an old church lying in ruins. I took a few photographs of this and found some information in Thurso Museum about it. It is called St. Peter's Church, and is thought to date back to the 12th century. The present ruins date from the 16th and 17th centuries and are preserved by the Thurso Heritage Society, and the Department of the Environment. The last service held in St. Peter's was in 1832.
A old font from this church is on display in the Museum, and is carved from a single piece of sandstone. Alongside this is also the Thurso Fish Stane which used to stand in the market place to mark the place where fisherman's wives traditionally gathered to sell their fish. A similar stone, the 'Cocky Stane' used to mark the spot where the farmer's wives sold their produce, but this stone has long since disappeared.
The name of Sir John Sinclair keeps popping up wherever I go in Thurso. He was born at Thurso castle on the 10th of May 1754 and was educated at the High School, Edinburgh. He later attended the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Oxford. He was known as an agricultural innovater, politician, town planner and 'collector of useful information'. He worked to improve farming methods and extend the town of Thurso as the local industries blossomed.
At the bike shop I bought a drinking bottle and cage and a pair of cycle gloves. Further down the street in an outdoor shop I bought another gas canister for my Trangia, and stocked up on food too.
Hidden around a backstreet area I found a small computer shop and popped in to have a look. The woman working in here had a lot of knowledge of the local history and architecture. This was largely because she had a degree in history and tourism. She told me about St. Peters Church which I had been taking photographs of, and she also talked about the row of fishermans cottages by the river which had led to the Weights and Mesures act used across the whole nation. She thought that it was a shame that so many tourists either pass straight through Thurso or only stay one night to catch the ferry from Scrabster the next day, and that there was so much to see but so little done by the local authorities to promote these things and encourage people to stay a little longer in the town.
I got my hair cut at a small gents hairdressers and dropped into the second bike shop where I had a ride on a young lads off road bike - big box section frame with lots of welds and full suspension!
Unfortunately I missed getting to the Castle.
In the evening, I went to The Commercial Bar with Averth (Netherlands) and Simon (Northern Ireland) from the campsite for a couple of drinks and to listen to some local traditional music.