It has featured in many happy snapshots, including those of celebrities, for more than 50 years.


But the famous "Journey's End" signpost in John O'Groats, which offers tourists personalised pictures featuring the distance to their hometown, is to close.

The photographer who manages the site, on the north eastern tip of Scotland, is stepping down on April 30 and the owners of the sign are unable to find a replacement.

Thousands of walkers, cyclists and other fundraisers have been pictured there, including celebrities and sports stars such as record-breaking Olympian Sir Chris Hoy, former cricketer Sir Ian Botham and former radio presenter Chris Moyles.

Courtwood Photographic Ltd, who also run a similar operation at Land's End in Cornwall, has confirmed Peter Dymond is stepping down as the site's official photographer after 16 years.

Unless the firm can recruit a last-minute replacement, the original signpost will disappear.

Mr Dymond, 50, who is moving with his family to Northamptonshire, said: "It'll be the end of a very long tradition. How many businesses have been around for 57 years up here? Not that many, I would say.

"I've loved working with the public and I'll miss my job here very much - it'll be a sad day when I do leave John O'Groats."

In 2013, the original John O'Groats signpost had to be moved to a new location when the grounds were taken over by leisure firm Natural Retreats, which decided to install a free-to-use sign.

The original sign was moved to land at a caravan park and it is understood that sales have suffered since then.

Mr Dymond, who is originally from London, says despite Natural Retreats' much-vaunted £6 million redevelopment of the tourist hot spot, he feels the area attracted fewer visitors last year. He believes, however, the World Cup, Commonwealth Games and September's referendum may have had an impact on numbers.

He is also sceptical about public artwork newly commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Creative Scotland at a cost of £118,000 and questions what it will bring to John O'Groats. Broughty Ferry-based Dalziel + Scullion plan to create a "Nomadic Boulders" sculpture at the town which should be in place by autumn.

"I think it's a complete waste of taxpayers' money. Why do we want them? That's not going to bring people to John O'Groats," he said.

Over the last six years Mr Dymond has helped to raise more than £25,000 for Diabetes UK with a bucket collection at the signpost, and he heaped praise on the efforts of kind-hearted charity end-to-enders - people who travel the 874 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats.

"It's tremendous what some of them achieve - and some of them take on the challenge many, many times," he said.

"There have been many good times and people have gone away from here very, very happy with what we've done for them.

"We have an American who comes over every year with his mother to the signpost and they've been coming for the last dozen years. People come from all over the world and all over the country too."

He has seen many famous faces through his lens over the years and also counts visits of the Olympic flame and Commonwealth Games Queen's baton among his many highlights.

However, the photographer said that the one thing he will not miss is the weather.

Mr Drymond added: "I've enjoyed it very much here and have loved doing my job. It's come to a sad time but time changes - I'd like to thank all my customers and all my friends round here too."

A spokesman for Courtwood Photographic Ltd, based in Cornwall, added: "We have been unable to find a new manager for our John O'Groats operation and therefore consider the best option would be to lease the operation to anyone interested in running the signpost independently.

"To date, no interest has been shown and therefore the signpost will remain closed until further notice."