Caithness Tour Itinerary Day Two
Caithness tour – Day Two
Welcome to Day Two of our suggested tour of Caithness. After a fair amount of driving yesterday, we thought it would be a good idea for you to devote the second day to our county town of Wick and rely a bit less on the car. Wick, along with Thurso, comprise the two principal towns in Caithness.
While almost certainly the natural harbour and river would have guaranteed occupation of the site from prehistoric times, the town of Wick is named from Old Norse vík meaning bay.
The wealth of Wick in the 19th century, gained primarily from the herring industry, is evident in the elaborate commercial buildings and private residences of that period. The herring industry also provided work for families forced out from their land during the Highland Clearances.
There are walks along the river and the harbour which is once again becoming an economic hub for the town as a support centre for the offshore wind farms in the Moray Firth.
Wick, like Dunbeath, is another place with an excellent, community-led Heritage Centre - https://www.wickheritage.org The museum is located in the heart of Pulteneytown, part of the town created by the famous Victorian civil engineer, Thomas Telford. Situated in Bank Row, in premises that were once home to both businesses and families, there are many hidden gems in the collections. The museum collects, collates, and displays artefacts and stories relating to the history of the town.
This distillery in Wick is home to the multi-award-winning, single malt whisky ‘Old Pulteney’ https://www.oldpulteney.com/# A visitor centre presents the history of the distillery and showcases its range of whiskies. For many years it was the most northerly distillery in mainland Scotland, but since 2013 that distinction has gone to Wolfburn near Thurso – also worth a visit for whisky enthusiasts!
A World Record
Bet you didn’t know that the shortest street in the world is right here in Wick.
Ebenezer Place is credited by the Guinness Book or Records as being the world’s shortest street at 2.06m (6ft 9 in). The street only has one address: the entrance to No1 Bistro, part of Mackay’s Hotel.
Ebenezer Place originated in 1883, when 1 Ebenezer Place was constructed; the owner of the building was instructed to display a name on the shortest side of the hotel. It was officially declared a street in 1887
Caithness' oldest castle, and still impressing visitors after 800 years, it stands proudly on the cliffs south of Wick. Though the remains of Old Wick Castle date back to the 14th century, it is likely that this castle was built on top of an even older fortification from the 12th century. The three-storey tower (originally four-storey) is the defining monument in this castle complex; the remains of other structures can be seen behind the tower, but these have never been archaeologically investigated. The seaward side collapsed long ago, and the castle is in an advanced state of ruin, but some features still survive, including narrow window slits, ledges for supporting timber upper floors, and a fireplace on the second floor.
For more details on the castle and access information check out our Adventure Map on this website.
This is a hidden gem of the Caithness seacoast, yet still off the radar of most NC500 tourists.
It’s a towering sea stack that rises from the crashing waves below, only connected to the land by a narrow rock bridge (or 'brig').
There are no road signs and little in the way of blogposts, media, or guidebooks to encourage visitors here, so this place is secret in every sense of the word! But don't let that put you off - only a short walk from the popular castle of Old Wick, Brig o' Stack rises 25m from the sea. The narrow rock bridge permits access to the stack, where guillemots, shags, skuas, and kittiwakes make their nests on the rocky ledges. Please take care and be responsible. Whilst beautiful, the coastline can be treacherous, so never do anything that puts yourself or others in danger.
The walk to the Brig and back is a 3km round trip.
After plenty of fresh air visiting old castles and spectacular clifftop scenery, perhaps you want to do something indoors. Then Nucleus could be for you.
The Nuclear and Caithness Archives hold the historical archives of the county, from 1469 to the present day, and those of the UK civil nuclear industry. The Nuclear Research Facility of Dounreay, on the north coast, west of Thurso, was a major employer for decades from the 1950’s. Many people still work there as it’s in the process of being de-commissioned.
Nucleus is home to the archives of the UK civil nuclear industry, which date back over 70 years and consist of plans, drawings, photographs, film, microfiche, and other documents. These have previously been held at various sites across the UK, including Sellafield in Cumbria.
If you are interested in tracing your Caithness ancestors, the history of your house or local area, or simply exploring over 600 years of history, make sure to pay them a visit! The centre is located at Wick Airport and is accessible to all abilities.