Among my many passions in life, the love of dogs, family and a good cup of coffee rank highly. And as any dog owner knows of course, the first two of these are exactly the same thing. Add in the coffee (and perhaps a nice bit of lunch or dinner) and you have a wonderful kind of alchemy that just makes everything seem right with the world. But finding places to eat and drink where your pet is also welcome can be tricky, especially when you visit somewhere new.
Enter my home county of Caithness (another of my lifelong passions). Despite being christened ‘The Kingdom of the Cats’ by our Pictish ancestors, the most northerly county on the UK mainland also has a lot to offer our canine companions, too. Think long walks, open spaces and beaches that seem to stretch on forever. Even better, the county now boasts a growing number of dog friendly food and drink outlets. What better reason to make a visit with your faithful friend?
One of my favourite dog friendly places in Caithness (in fact one of my favourite places full stop) is Stacks Coffee House and Bistro, in John O’ Groats, one of Scotland’s most iconic destinations (and also the start/end point for many ‘End to End’ UK journeys and North Coast 500 travel adventures). Stacks, with its enviable position not far from the famous John O’ Groats sign, offers a wonderful pit stop for hungry, coffee-seeking visitors – especially, of course, if you happen to be travelling with your dog. With friendly staff, a welcoming atmosphere – and a dog biscuit on arrival – your pup will be well catered for. Freshly brewed coffee, quirky decor and an array of mouth-watering offerings mean human customers will leave delighted, too!
Elsewhere in John O’ Groats, Natural Retreat’s Storehouse (also close to the John O’ Groats sign) is happy to welcome canine visitors. And if you ever find yourself looking for a Starbucks in Caithness, you’ll find the brand on offer here. Lucky furbabes are treated to a free puppuccino when accompanying their humans (tried, tested, and with a big paws-up from our dog Brody). And not far up the road, you’ll find dog friendly accommodation at the Seaview Hotel (where dogs are also permitted in most public areas, too).
In the nearby town of Wick, the Mackays Hotel offers dog friendly accommodation, and the chance to eat or drink with your pup on the premises (dogs are welcome in the lobby and bar areas). While you’re there, you can also impress your friends with bragging rights to a bona fide World Record, as the hotel resides on Ebenezer Place, officially recognised as the world’s shortest (6 feet, nine inches) street.
Near Thurso, the Peerie Cafe at Scrabster allows dogs (standard rules apply like keeping your pup off furniture, and being mindful of other customers). And in Thurso itself the Y Not Bar & Grill offers its restaurant menu in the dog friendly Grove Lounge next door (as well as welcoming dogs in both their Inn at Y Not guest rooms, and self catering accommodation nearby). There are also are several cafes in the town with outdoor seating areas where you can languish with your pup in the summer sunshine. For an American-inspired experience, head to the Blue Door Coffee Shop and Diner for burgers and milkshakes while enjoying stunning views towards Orkney and across the Pentland Firth.
For something a bit different, head to the tranquil Forse of Nature, near Latheron, with its long wooded drive, rolling gardens – and dog friendly accommodation. Your pup will love the welcoming cafe, and might even get a chance to stretch their legs around the 24-acre grounds!
If you’re heading west, just nudging into Sutherland you’ll find the Halladale Inn, which welcomes dogs in its public bar area. Not far away, the Melvich Hotel offers dog friendly accommodation as well as delicious stone-fired pizzas (sorry, though Fido – these are for your human slaves). Dogs are welcome in most public areas of the hotel – you can find out more in the pet policy on their website. And don’t forget to take your pup for a walk to the glorious nearby beach when you’ve finished eating. After all that pizza, you might find you need a bit of exercise yourself!
Where dog lovers are concerned, the county of Caithness is well and truly open for business. And with places to eat, drink (and play) with your dog, it’s a must-do on any dog-friendly Scottish tour. The Picts may have named us in feline terms, but doggies, don’t hold that against us.
Come, fetch, eat dog biscuits.
The Kingdom of the Cats is opening its doors.
*Please note that this post is not sponsored by, or affiliated with, any of the businesses mentioned. I just love coffee, my home county and my dog. Check with individual establishments for further details, and adhere to standard rules like keeping your dog on a lead while on the premises. And if you are a dog friendly eaterie in Caithness I haven’t mentioned, please get in touch!
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