The cottage was built in the 1960s for the principal lightkeeper and his family. If you look at the older pictures of the lighthouse, you can see that the building it replaced was positioned between the existing 19thC cottage and the walled garden.
We bought it in 2017 and spent most of 2018 refurbishing it, to make it the cosy place it is now. We opened in October 2018. During the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, the cottage was home to a pharmacist at Caithness General Hospital. In this small way the cottage is tied to the roll-out of the Covid vaccine here in Caithness, continuing the lighthouse’s history of keeping the people of Caithness safe from danger.
Artists and Pictures
Our pictures show the wildlife you can see and the places you can visit here on the headland. Many of the artists live here in Caithness.
These photographs were given to us by Brian Dishon, the younger of the two boys playing in the boats. His father was Lightkeeper here between 1947 and 1949. You can read about the Dishon family’s time here in Brian’s memoir.
Dining Room / Family Room
Georgina McMaster – Bees
Georgina’s work is mainly based on animals, in particular Scottish wildlife. She endeavours to capture the character and soul of the animal. We bought Georgina’s pictures from the Coo’s Tail Gallery in Thurso.
Lisa Weller – Sandigoe Beach
Lisa is our neighbour in Papigoe and you came past her studio at Haven House Art on the way here. She has been painting full time since 2009 after moving here from the south of England. She does classes here for our guests in the Cottage – see her leaflets in the Dining Room.
Anna Wright – Starlings
Anna creates lively illustrations of animals and birds; a gentle sense of humour runs through all her work, alongside a passion for drawing. She is from Dumfries and is now based in Edinburgh and Kennington. We got this print from the Coo’s Tail Gallery in Thurso; her prints, cards, stationery, books and homeware are also available via her website.
Dawn Maciocia – Wildlife on cushions and lampshades
Dawn lives in Fife where she creates collage paintings using hand painted torn papers. She finds life serious and deliberately creates work that’s light-hearted. This is why we chose her work to brighten up the Living Room. We bought the cushions and lampshades in the Coo’s Tail Gallery in Thurso.
Jane Smith – Puffin Landing
Jane Smith – Seal on the Shore
Jane came to wildlife art via a degree in Zoology and a career filming wildlife. She sketched the young Seal on the Shore in Oak Call Ink while she was an Artist in Residence in the oak woods at Taynish.We bought the picture direct from the artist.
F S Begg – Sinclair Bay
Frank Begg has been painting the wildlife and landscapes of northern Scotland since the 1960s and his paintings depict ways of farming that are now long-gone. However, the view of Sinclair Bay looking over to Noss Head and Castle Girnigoe has not changed since he painted it. We had a long chat with him when bought the print of his painting at the Toll Gallery, Bridge End, Thurso.
Martina Cross – And the Memories Remain (Castle Sinclair Girnigoe)
Martina lived for more than 10 years in Caithness and produced books of photography the north of Scotland before she returned to Germany. We bought her atmospheric print from her on Redbubble.
G E Newton- Oilette Postcard: Girniegoe (sic) Castle, Wick
GE Newton painted picture postcards before the First World War. Newton must have painted the picture, or at least sketched the position of the moon, early one summer’s morning. These postcards occasionally turn up on ebay.
Jane Strugnell – Castle Sinclair Girnigoe and Noss Light
Jane came from Coventry and now lives here in Caithness. She says “I previously tried to diversify into several other artistic areas, but having realised that I am not going to live forever and some things had to go, the painting was the activity that survived!” We bought the prints of Jane’s watercolours from John o’Groats Crafts.
Unknown – Print of Castle Girnigoe
This print came from the Royal Mile Gallery in Edinburgh.
Unknown – Print of the Herring Fleet in Wick, with Noss Head in the distance
This imaginative view shows many East Coast fishing landmarks; we got it from the Highland Hospice Charity Shop in Thurso.
Mary Andrews – Black Throated Divers
Mary trained first as a research scientist before returning to her first love which is art. She says “… my work is an effort to express my excitement in the beauty of the animals and plants around my Highland home”. We bought this lino cut from an exhibition in Caithness Horizons
Sheelah Sparkes – Rock Life
Sheelah is an artist and calligrapher who was born in North Yorkshire. She has lived and worked for many years in the Highland village of Portmahomack, Easter Ross. We bought this print from an exhibition at Caithness Horizons.
Louise Worthy – Lapwing Sunset and Mermaid’s Purse
Louise worked in the fashion industry for over 20 years. When she moved to Sutherland in 2005, she could be more hands-on creative and for a number of years she used a converted ACME mangle for producing her prints! We bought two of her ink monoprints of shore birds from an exhibition at the Caithness Horizons gallery, but you can buy her work from her website and on Etsy.
Brambler (formerly The Font Tree) – Personalised Treasured Location Print
This map with the co-ordinates for Noss Head is the picture which is both most specific and least specific to this place! We got it from Jasmine and Baz on the website Not on the High Street.
Copper Top Croft – NC500 Postcards
Get a poster of this year’s NC500 design from Copper Top Croft in The Coo’s Tail Gallery in Thurso. Anna Mayon is a visual artist from Inverness, designs are based on Anna’s original ideas, drawings and Lino Prints (carved blocks, inked and printed) in collaboration with her husband Scott.
David Armitage – Covers for The Lighthouse Keeper’s books
These were the books that inspired us!
Sylvie Veyres – Covers for Les Etioles de Noss Head by Sophie Jomain
These books in the Twilight tradition are only available in French, alas.
We are thoughtful about what we buy and who we buy it from, favouring local businesses and independent firms over multi-nationals. We can’t always manage it, but do always try.
When gin doesn’t help, chocolate does. Find these artisan chocolates in MacKays in Thurso.
Coo’s Tail Gallery, Thurso
Barbara Cowan seeks out some of the Highlands most talented artists and has everything from coasters to paintings. We nearly bought the whole shop!
Laurus Digital, Wick
Gordon McKay has worked with us patiently on our website since before we bought the cottage, making sure we present a fair face to the world.
North Design, Thurso
We said to Kenny McArthur “if the logo’s a lighthouse, it must be THIS lighthouse”. We think he’s captured Noss Head and the wildlife perfectly.
Reids Bakers, Thurso
We think Gary and Tracy’s team of star bakers deserve every award they’ve won – pick up more of their biscuits in MacKays in Thurso.
The sister business – literally – to Caithness Stone! They keep our linen freshly laundered.
Not local, but still lovely
Curig Crafts / Tweedmill, Wales
Our cosy blanket throws are recycled wool! They’re made by Tweedmill and we got them from Sam at Curig Crafts.
Edinburgh Tea and Coffee
We chose their Highland Blend tea partly because we love the flavour ourselves, and partly because it’s a little lighter in caffeine than their Scottish Breakfast. They’re a lovely firm and we hope you enjoy their tea.
Fou Furnishings, Glasgow
Cotton impacts the environment too. It’s never been so easy to sleep soundly with Stephanie MacKintosh’s organic and fair trade linens and towels.
A family firm in Yorkshire, their hot chocolate is some of the best we’ve tried and the individual boxes of single sachets help us keep you safe.
Taylors of Harrogate
We think their boxes of coffee bags are our best choice to support an independent business, fair trade farmers, and still provide a good cup of coffee in a way that’s safely wrapped.
Who Gives a Cr*p
It’s no surprise these guys are Australian, but we think it’s great that half their profits go to build toilets in developing countries. Plus they make us laugh.