The town of Wick that we know today is actually built on the site of an ancient Viking settlement; this was at one time the main town for the northern Highland region. The town of Wick sits either side of the river of the same name and stretches out along both sides of Wick Bay. The bay itself was at one time the busiest herring port in the whole of Europe; this was during the mid nineteenth century when the fishing industry was at its peak here. Commonly referred to as the ‘Old Man of Wick’ the remains of the once great fortification of the Castle of Old Wick is still visible along the cliff top just to the south of Wick Bay, still looking out to see for fear of water borne invaders. To the north of the town you will find the ancient 15th century and 17th century ruins of what remains of Castle Sinclair and Girnigoe Castle, each of which appear to rise out of a rocky promontory.
Things to See and Do
There is a wonderful cliff top walk that will take you to the castle, along which you will also pass the Noss Head Lighthouse. Along the trail you are sure to encounter a selection of the local wildlife including several species of sea birds including puffins. This part of the coastline is popular with windsurfers and the hardy souls that take to the beach to go sand yachting in Sinclair Bay. You can discover more about the history and heritage of Wick in the Wick Heritage Centre which you will find in Pultneytown. As Wick is effectively split in two by the river, the town itself has split into two areas with separate identities with Pultneytown and Wick Proper making up the whole.
Places to Visit
The Wick Heritage centre is the place to go to get a real feel for the town. Here you will find the history of the town laid out from the early days of the fisheries up to the present day. You will find a fish kiln as well as a traditional blacksmiths shop and cooperage, plus you will be able to see a fully restored fisherman’s cottage. There is an art gallery as well as an extensive photographic display relating to the Lighthouse.
Head across to Pulteney Distillery and learn how they make whiskey the traditional way, just as they did almost two hundred years ago. This is the most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland and it is claimed that there is something special in the water and the heritage of the place that makes the drink so special.
Learn more about the local seabirds and other wildlife at the Brodgar Nature Reserve; here you will find oystercatchers, lapwings and curlews plus other native seabirds. While you are here you should also spend some time at Brodgar’s Neolithic Ring. Whether you love the history or appreciate the tranquillity of the highlands you will find something special about Wick and the surrounding area.