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Viking invasion at John O'Groats

By Jean Gunn

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John O'Groats Brewery’s John Mainprize trying out the new Viking cutout photo board.
John O'Groats Brewery’s John Mainprize trying out the new Viking cutout photo board.

Volunteers at John O'Groats have been busy putting the finishing touches to a new Viking-themed cutout photo board and outdoor play areas for children.

Money towards these latest projects was received from the Stroupster Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund and the John O'Groats Development Fund which is generated from parking fees at the popular local tourist destination.

Commenting on the new eye-catching Viking face in the hole board, Andrew Mowat, treasurer of the John O'Groats Development Trust, said: "It gives another photo opportunity – we are trying to create a bit more excitement. It will help make memories – visitors can take pictures and put them on Facebook or Instagram."

The brightly painted prop features four fun characters each with cutouts for faces so that families can have a snapshot taken together during their visit to the village. It is situated on the gable end of the tourist information building facing up towards the craft shops.

The board was designed by Kenny McArthur of North Design, based in Thurso, while Willie Miller of Job Joiners helped put the attraction in place as well as assisting with the work on the outdoor children's equipment.

The red Viking female figure is proudly holding a copy of the John O'Groat Journal, while the burly male character is Viking pirate Sweyn of Bucholie who is savouring a pint from the local brewery.

One of the young fun characters at the front has Game of Cones emblazoned on his tunic clutching an ice cream in his hand, like the ones available from Flavours situated in the shopping outlet. The final figure in green holds a bow and arrow and has "we've made it" written on her outfit.

Sweyns Galley and Duncansby Stacks can be seen in the background, along with some wildlife associated with the area – seals, orcas and a puffin.

Mr Mowat explained that the Viking galley, named after the pirate, relates to a little wooden boat that brothers Ivor and David Thomas, of John O'Groats Ferries, used to do tours with when they were younger. Ivor is one of the skippers with the local ferry company which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

The new safety-matted play areas provide different activities for children to have fun on, including a sturdy swing, climbing obstacles, a balance beam and a slide.

"It gives kids, whether up visiting or locals, something to play on safely and tidies up the area – it is looking a lot better," said Mr Mowat.

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