THE historic John O’Groats sign marking 874 miles from Land’s End has been snapped off after “thoughtless tourists” hung from it.

The sign has been in place since 1964 and has become a popular spot for walkers and cyclists to take a photograph at following long journeys.

It’s thought the sign was damaged in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The John O’Groats Development Trust branded the people responsible “clowns” and said the post had been restored and painted earlier in the year.

They added the sign will have to be removed completely and welded back together.

In a statement, the trust said: “John O’Groats has been delighted with the number of visitors that have been coming to enjoy the area in the last couple of weeks, but along with this comes some very challenging issues, where a very small minority don’t seem to be able to behave in a normal manner.

“Last night the public toilets had three hand gel dispensers broken and the bottles of gel stolen, then this morning sometime between 5am and 7.30am someone decided to swing on the Orkney finger-post of the famous John O’Groats Signpost and has managed to snap it off.

“The signpost was restored and painted earlier this year already at a considerable cost and was looking well all fresh and clean, but now we will need to have it removed again and welded back together thanks to some thoughtless folk.

“We don’t know who is responsible but have had photos shown to us of people swinging on it the last few days, which would have increasingly weakened the post.

“If anyone should know the offenders maybe they could contact us and offer some payment towards a now costly fix of the sign, and also an apology to those who will miss out on their photo at the sign when it goes away for a couple of days to be fixed.

“It really is such a shame when a few clowns ruin things for 100’s of others.”

The Caithness village is a popular spot for tourists, as it is one end of the longest distance between two inhabited points on the British mainland.

John O’Groats is 690 miles from London, 280 miles from Edinburgh, six miles from the Orkney Isles and 2200 miles from the North Pole.