Whaligoe Steps - A Complete Guide

What Are Whaligoe Steps?

Whaligoe Steps are a set of steep and narrow steps built into a cliff face down to a naturally formed harbour, Whaligoe Haven, and they are a manmade wonder.

These steps are a popular stop on the NC500 and with good reason, the views from the harbour and the surrounding cliffs once you get down the steps are just so beautiful.

The stairs have been cut into rock, with a stone wall on one side for safety. There are about 365 steps in total, descending about 200 feet (60 meters), but it’s worth it for those who make their way to the end of this scenic path.

Does Whaligoe Steps Have a Historic Backstory?

The whaligoe steps were created over 200 years ago. Up until that time, ships using the haven had to moor against rocks, so the bink was created to make mooring easier for the ships and fishermen. In the 1800’s the haven was thriving with fishing boats but the use declined towards the end of the 1800’s, before use ceased altogether in the 1960’s.

Since then the steps and haven have been maintained by enthusiastic local volunteers so that we are able to go and visit this spectacle.

During their time in use, the Whaligoe Steps provided a sheltered walkway along one of the most rugged coasts of Britain. Evidence suggests that they were originally constructed with two ramps on either side to provide easier access down towards the shoreline. The cliffs here are steep and overgrown with plants like juniper bushes that make it hard for people to climb down on their own without slipping or getting hurt. This made walking down these steps an important task because they helped people get back home safely without risking injury or death by climbing down this high cliff face alone.

Whaligoe Steps

Where Is Whaligoe Steps Located?

The Whaligoe Steps are found on the northeast coast of Scotland, just south of a small town called Thrumster. A very small car park is located near the top from where the trail begins, but there are very few parking spaces with most of them being for residents only as the car park is behind some fisherman’s cottages. There are also a couple of disabled spots, so there is not much parking left for motorhomes or campervans, so it is best to get there early.

How To Get to Whaligoe Steps?

The Whaligoe Steps are not a major tourist destination so you will not see any signs directing you to them. The address for the steps is – Whaligoe, Lybster KW2 6AB – so it is best to put this into your sat nav or maps and follow this.

Is There Accessible Parking Available When Visiting Whaligoe Steps?

Yes, there are a couple of disabled parking spaces in the car park, however, the Whaligoe steps are completely inaccessible for anybody with walking difficulties as they are very steep steps in a cliff face, and the ground is uneven, so we would say if you do have walking difficulties it is best not to try to go down the steps. However saying this, you can still appreciate the views from the top of the steps.

Whaligoe Steps - A Complete Guide
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Do You Have to Hike to Reach Whaligoe Steps?

You have to walk down the steps to get to the harbour at the bottom which doesn’t take too long but the steps are steep, and the ground is uneven, so you do have to be careful and wear sensible shoes.

Whaligoe Steps - A Complete Guide
Whaligoe Steps

When is the Best Time of Year to Visit the Whaligoe Steps?

The best time of year to visit the Whaligoe Steps is in summer. This is a popular tourist attraction for those looking for a nice walk and an interesting history lesson. The steps are located in Scotland and were built by hand in the late 1800s. They are one of the last remaining original buildings from this period, which can be seen as they have been preserved well over time. The stairs are found on the east coast of Scotland, between Wick and John O’Groats, which is both very easy to access via ferry or car while still being in an isolated location with fantastic scenery.

What Should I Pack If I Plan on Visiting Whaligoe Steps?

You will need to wear sensible footwear to climb down the steps as they are steep and the ground is uneven.

If you visit in the winter, you will need to pack warm clothing and waterproof clothing is advised throughout the year if rain is on the weather forecast (although the weather forecast cannot be 100% trusted in Scotland!) as you are very exposed to the elements on the cliff face.

You will also want to pack your camera as you will want to take lots of photos of this remarkable part of the NC500!

How To Incorporate Whaligoe Steps into Your North Coast 500 Route?

The Whaligoe Steps are on the NC500 route, so it is very easy to incorporate them into your road trip. The steps are not far from John O’Groats, Duncansby Head Lighthouse and the Duncansby Stacks, so it would be easy to incorporate these stops in a day.

Whaligoe Steps - A Complete Guide

Final Thoughts

We highly recommend a trip to the Whaligoe Steps as part of your NC500 road trip, you won’t regret it and the scenery is stunning.

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