News Archive - April 2002

To Stables & cottages At Thrumster House
The trees are just beginning to come into leaf in Caithness always about four weeks later than places like Edinburgh  300 miles further south.  Although the season starts late due to the northerly latitude there is a great rush of growth in our long summer nights up to June and July when the sun hardly sets for several weeks and on clear nights the sun travels the horizon.  Plants and crops keep growing at a hectic rate catching up with places further south with their darker nights.  Have you played golf at midnight before?  Well on midsummer's night they play golf and bowls here.

Lyth Arts Centre & Thurso Players Present Ophaboom Theatre In Robin Hood
Despite there being no performances at Lyth Arts Centre during major improvements and building works they are still putting on works that are sure to be winners.  This is Ophaboom Theatre's third visit to Caithness.  The Scotsman described the performance as -  "This superb show had the audience in fits, roaring along at a relentless pace with a mixture of riotous farce and a generous helping of genuinely moving drama."  "As radical as a man can get in tights" 

Thrumster Broch And Daffodils
The broch was turned into a garden feature in the 18th century and still today forms part of the grounds of Thrumster house with its traditional big country house winding pathways round the garden to present surprises as you walk.  The daffodils are planted in large patches that you walk through as you approach.

Highland Council Again Asks For Halt Of GM Crop Trials At Munlochy
The Highland Council Convener David Green says the arguments for halting the controversial Genetically Modified crop trials at Munlochy on the Black Isle are becoming "overwhelming".  Councillor Green has called on Ross Finnie, Scottish Rural Affairs Minister, to use his powers under the Environmental Protection Act (1990) and bring the experiment to an end because of the lack of independent scientific research into the risks of GM technology.

Noss Head Lighthouse
The latest picture of Noss Lighthouse is from Robert Richmond.  The lighthouse is also the Clan Sinclair Study Centre and the link can be found in our Sinclair Connections pages

River Thurso At Dirlot
The River Thurso at Dirlot near the spot where there is according to legend treasure buried in a deep pool.  No swimmer has supposedly survived the attempt to find the treasure in the pool near Dirlot Castle.  Just visible in this picture is a small foot bridge that allows you to cross the river and view the castle site from the other side.

May Fair At North School, Wick
The PTA in North School are organising a May Fair.  There will be a variety of stalls, refreshments and lots of fun things to do. All are welcome.

Argyle Square, Wick - All Of It

Braemore Lodge
Another house in our growing country house section.  This one is Braemore lodge a shooting lodge built in the middle of the nineteenth century.  Set in a lightly wooded area with a good view of the nearby Maiden Pap.

Highland Eco Warriors Attack Munlochy GM Crop
A group of five GM Crop protestors have been arrested after damaging the crops on trial at Roskill Farm, Munlochy on the Black Isle.  Update: Those arrested were sentenced to a 6 months deferred sentence at Dingwall Sheriff Court this morning

Hidden Treasures At Berriedale

Views of the restored fishermen's cottages at Ballacladdich across the river from Dunbeath.

Links Section Passes 50,000
Yes the section is still growing relentlessly and our updating News sections now over 400 with sections combining Scottish News along with the choices or Scottish News with Newspaper Links or Scottish News With Our Caithness.Org headlines.  We are adding new links daily and new categories almost every week.

18th Century Summer House At Thrumster House
The daffodil teas fundraiser at Thrumster House yesterday also offered the chance to see round the Broch and other features of the gardens.  The 18th century summer house built from stone taken from the Broch immediately behind it still stands although the roof has long gone.  The Broch was excavated in the 1700's one of the earlier archaeological excavations in Scotland.  Stone from the Broch was also used for walls round the site.

Caithness Kidney Dialysis Support Group Sponsored Walk Success
About 80 people from all over Caithness  braved the slightly wet and windy weather to walk in Wick to raise some cash for the kidney group on Sunday 28 April at 2.00pm.  They walked about two and a half miles round the outskirts of the town and back to the Youth Club for snacks, tea and coffee.

Woman (41) Arrested For Drugs Offences In Operation Crime Braker
Northern Constabulary made the arrest in the latest in a number of drugs swoops in the Highlands.  Drugs valued at £65,000 were seized.   Part of Safer Scotland  - Crime Braker shows no sign of slowing down as police are determined to continue their current purge of dealers in the area.

Still Time To Book A Stall For The Latheron Village Hall Car Boor Sale
Latheron Hall is holding a Car Boot Sale on Saturday May 4th at 1 p.m., stallholders come along at 12 noon, a stall will cost £ 5.00 and there will teas, home baking and a raffle all for hall proceeds.  Stalls will be inside and out (weather permitting).  We have new tables for the hall.  You may sell anything that is legal and not living.  To book a stall tel. 01593 741250.

What's On In Latheron Village Hall
Latheron Hall Is for the Parish of Latheron, which is huge and it’s open for use by everyone.  Join in the events or if you have an event/class/group you would like to use the hall for, on a regular or occasional basis, please get in touch with your ideas.

Aircraft Incident - American Lands Safely
American National, ALLEN WALL piloting a Cessna 182 Number N5176D,  four seater single engine plane with one occupant, was travelling from Iceland to Wick.   At 1428 hrs the aircraft was 16 miles North West of Wick when the pilot reported that he had a severe icing problem.

Maiden Pap Near The Summit and Morven In April 2002
More great views of this part of Caithness from one of the emptiest places in the Highlands.  If heading up there at this time of year take warm clothing and waterproofs as sudden snow and rainy showers can sweep in within a few minutes even on the best of days in April or May.  Highest views without a helicopter.

Maiden Pap From Smean and From the South West In April 2002
More views of the of the Caithness wilderness  - land of golden eagles, buzzards and many other birds of prey.  Take binoculars to get a good look at the wild life and views if you are in this area.

Maiden Pap Looking To Corriechoich
And just when you thin you have seen it all there is another fabulous view of Caithness round the corner.  The group of hills on the Caithness Sutherland border are good walking and several can be walked in a day.  the views and countryside are well worth seeing and different from any other parts of Scotland.  All this and the seaside too.

Scaraben From Smean and Smean Summit
Scaraben is 80 feet lower than Morven coming in at 626 feet but once again presents great views of the surrounding countryside.  Smean lies in the centre of the group of Morven  Scaraben and Maiden Pap.  The hills stretch westwards towards the Strath of Kildonan that runs from Helmsdale on the east coast to the north of Sutherland

Langwell House
This is Langwell House another of the large country houses in Caithness photographed by Robert Richmond.  The first part of the house was built in the 18th century and added to several times to form this rambling big house.  It is completely white making it stand out on the slopes above Berriedale.  Nearby the house is the windmill  - a three vaned wind generator added in the 1980's and supplying power to several houses on the estate as well as feeding surplus into the national grid.

Passing Berriedale In April
With all the concentration needed to drive round the hairpin bends its easy to miss all that their is to see at this spot.  Its well worth taking time to stop at the small car park and taking in the views.  Or drive round to the small harbour at the bottom and hidden from view by the hill.  The harbour is well worth a look and is easy to miss on the way past.   Houses built by the Duke of Portland and a new cafe opening in May in the old water bottling place that closed a couple of years ago.  Stop for tea and a cake.

Wartime Memories In Caithness
Frank Williams was sent to Caithness after he came back from India.  He was sent to Caithness to help guard the German Prisoner of War Camp at Watten where they had a variety of German troops to guard including some from the SS.   Isabelle Thurley asked Frank her uncle about his time in Caithness when she visited him recently at his home in North Wales.  Isabelle's friend Janis Paterson is helping to prepare the Wings Over Wick material that we have been building over the last few months.  If anyone else would like to send in memories they need not have been in the forces.  Just what you remember about your time in the war in Caithness.  We will add them to the section.

Sponsored Walk For Kidney Dialysis Support Group
The sponsored walk for the support group starts on Sunday 28 April at 2.00pm and leaves from Wick Youth Club.  There is still time to collect a few sponsors and come along to join the walk.  Already over 100 people have said they will be coming on Sunday so why not come along if you have a couple of hours to spare.

North Highland Archive & Local History Week - 4 -11 May 2002
If you have an interest in local history then the North Highland Archive and several Caithness local museums are the places to visit.  As part of Local History week various archives in Scotland are featuring some of their items in the Virtual Vault so that you can see them online.  A new web site will held and increasing amount of items for you to see wherever you are.  North Highland Archive in Wick is exhibiting some of the Wick Harbour Trust minutes and they will be put on during History Week.

Thrumster House Daffodil Day On Saturday
Another chance to get a day out in the grounds of a Caithness country house.  Mature trees surround Thrumster House. This time raising funds for Yarrows Heritage Trust and Thrumster Game Fair.  On offer is a variety of activities for adults and children such a guided tour of the Thrumster or Garden Broch with archaeologist Nan Bethune, Kids Treasure Hunt, fishing for beasties in the pond.  Have a cup of tea and purchase some plants that will be on sale.  Admission £1 and children over 6 years 50p 

Daffodils At Langwell
Robert Richmond had a great week in Caithness with great weather and made the most of taking pictures all over the county.  Here is another showing the daffodils in the forest at Langwell near Berriedale.   More coming later of Robert's pictures.

History Of Caithness - Chapter Six - Second Half Completed
This chapter continues with even more action taking in the Battle of Summerdale, Earl and all his men slain, a Curious Orkney tradition and Sutherland of Duffus assassinated in Thurso.  Add to this a witch, executions, murder and more and it is still only 1529.  These Caithness folk do settle down eventually to science, agriculture, fishing and education.......but not for a while yet....on with the adventures....

Pipes Turning The Corner At Thurso Road, Wick
A common site in wick are these enormous lengths of pipe bound for the yard at Wester for welding and bundling before they make their way to the North Sea oilfields

Lieurary School about 1959 - 60
Thanks to Brian Forsyth for this picture and to Gena McKenzie for supplying the names for Brian.  This yet another old school that closed many years ago.

Further Up The West Coast Of Stroma

Further Down East Coast of Caithness At Clyth
Another view from Robert Richmond on the east coast of Caithness where castles used the sites hundreds of years ago.

New Satellite Renal Unit Confirmed For Caithness
Margaret Brown, Business Manager, Richard Carey, Chief Executive and Dr. Carol Brunton , Consultant Renal Physician From Highland Acute Hospitals NHS Trust were in Wick today to speak to a public meeting and announce officially that the business plan for improved renal services in Highland had been accepted.  Part of this included a new satellite renal unit at the Caithness General hospital in Wick by January 2003.  Improvements at Raigmore were also included in the plans.

See The Grandeur Of Caithness From The Top Of Maiden Pap Over Braemore
The latest pictures from Robert Richmond looking over Braemore from the top of Maiden Pap.  If you have time for a good walk and a leisurely uphill clamber then here are some of the best views of Caithness on a good day.

Ballacladdich Near Dunbeath
Thanks to Robert Richmond who contributes to the castles section for a run of pictures from his recent week in Caithness.  Here is the first one of the place he stays on recent trips to the county.  Not hard to see why he and his wife like these cottages to stay in for a few days.

Wings Over Wick Continues
Probably the largest number of letters we received could not be put into any specific category but were from men involved in a wide range of activities at Wick airport. Others tell of specific memories of events or people they met - John Telfer, Glasgow, J W Hazeldine, Sedgely, West Midlands, Flt/Lt Thomas Hasty,  Blackpool, Lancs, Mr C F Cheekley,  Newport Pagnell, Bucks.

The Highlands and Islands Community Website Conference Report
“there is no periphery in cyberspace” was the theme of the community web site conference in Inverness last week 18 - 19 April 2002  in the Thistle Hotel, Inverness.   Our very own Bill Fernie was one of the speakers on day one of the conference that was attended by over 100 people.  There seems to be no end in site to the rise of the local web site in the Highlands as more and more come online.

Wick Harbour Pictures
A bright sunny day at the harbour where the main activity today seemed to be clearing the last of the fertiliser shipments off the quayside.  Pictures from John Hay - Photographer.

Hymen Winstone - Relief Lifeboat In Wick
A relief lifeboat is in Wick to cover whilst the regular boat is away getting repairs carried out tot he propeller shaft in Buckie.   Our own boat will be back in a few days so if you want to get a look at another lifeboat take a trip round Wick harbour.

Neurological Support Group Opens New Centre
The first support centre in Scotland geared towards the needs of people with neurological conditions was opened by Jamie Stone, MSP on Saturday 20 April in front of a large gathering of invited guests and members of the public. The Nerve Centre, located on the first floor above the Cancer Research Shop in Thurso’s shopping precinct.

Grant Street, Wick

Three Month Seal Study Underway on Thurso River Seals
Alan Knight and of International animal Rescue and Dr Sue Wilson a freelance consultant at a Belfast seal research centre are carrying out a study that commence last week on the seals in the Thurso River.  Volunteers are assisting with the study that will last for three months.

Whist Drive - Dunbeath Christmas Lights Fund
Thursday 25 April, 7.45pm - Inver Arms, Dunbeath

North Coast Marine Adventure Trip To Stroma - Second Half

Last of Stroma Trip First Half

New Police Station In Wick Progressing

Royal Place, Wick
Latest street added to our growing picture galleries.

New Pulteney Community Group In Wick Off To A Good Start
The South School Hall was full for the meeting to consider setting up a new Pulteney Community Group for the residents of Pulteney in Wick last night.  Duncan Mackay and Katrina McNab of Caithness Citizen's Advice Bureaux outlined the reasons why they had convened the meeting.  It was in part a response to the social report they had compiled and published in January showing high levels of enquiries on many levels.  Pulteney area of Wick figured highly in their statistics.

Great Glen Walk Opens
Scotland’s fourth and Highland’s third national long distance route will be officially opened on Tuesday 30th April by HRH The Prince Andrew, Earl of Inverness when a group of visually impaired walkers complete a walk of the Great Glen Way ending at Inverness Castle.

The Regeneration Of Lower Pulteneytown, Wick
A multi-million redevelopment of Britain's first formal industrial estate - at Lower Pulteneytown, Wick - is due to get under way later this year with the creation of 14 new houses and a family centre for the area.  The projects are among the first seven, which have been identified in the first phase of regeneration, which covers one-third of Lower Pulteneytown.  A total of £1.19 million has been attracted from the Heritage Lottery Fund and by a further £1.19 from Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise, The Highland Council and Communities Scotland. A further investment of £750,000 is expected from the private sector.

Highland Council - Draft Volunteering Policy - Comments Invited
The public is invited to comment on the Council's Draft Volunteering Policy.  The full draft and contact details are on the page.  A good part of the Highland Council draft contains many of the areas recommended by Volunteer Development Scotland as being essential in Volunteer Policies for any good volunteer management system. Well worth a look by any local volunteer management committees and members as well as co-ordinators and project leaders in Caithness and elsewhere.

History Of Caithness - Chapter 6 - First Half
In this section we see the end of the Norwegian Earls in Caithness.  The Sinclairs of Roslin and the transfer of the Earldom, Flodden, The Drum Head charter following the Caithness men's arrival dressed in green , the invasion of Orkney and the battle of Summerdale.   Second half of chapter 6 later in the week.

Highland Council - Draft Volunteering Policy - Comments Invited
The public is invited to comment on the Council's Draft Volunteering Policy.  The full draft and contact details are on the page.  A good part of the Highland Council draft contains many of the areas recommended by Volunteer Development Scotland as being essential in Volunteer Policies for any good volunteer management system. Well worth a look by any local volunteer management committees and members as well as co-ordinators and project leaders in Caithness and elsewhere.

History Of Caithness - Chapter 6 - First Half
In this section we see the end of the Norwegian Earls in Caithness.  The Sinclairs of Roslin and the transfer of the Earldom, Flodden, The Drum Head charter following the Caithness men's arrival dressed in green , the invasion of Orkney and the battle of Summerdale.   Second half of chapter 6 later in the week.

Yarrows Heritage Trust Minutes of Meeting 3 April 2002

Garden Wall Collapse At Staxigoe To Be Repaired
The garden wall that collapsed beside the house overlooking Staxigoe harbour is shortly to be rebuilt.  The wall collapsed a couple of months ago during one of the wettest winters for many years.  Water built up in the ground behind the wall that had been in place for a very long time.  Builders will  shortly begin the work of rebuilding the wall with appropriate drainage holes to ensure this cannot happen again.

Ambulances In Caithness
Well we had fire engines a week or so ago so here is another of our emergency services vehicles.

Pulteney Public Meeting - Creating a Community Association
The meeting is being organised by Caithness Citizen's Advice Bureaux to find out if their is sufficient interest to create a new Community Association.  If they decide to do this they will be eligible for funding for projects which currently they cannot access.  The Ormlie Community Association in Thurso has been highly successful in attracting funds to address many issues and it is hoped that Pulteney can do the same.  But it needs public support at the initial meeting to measure the support to carry matters forward.   All Residents of Pulteney are urged to attend.

Last Of The Bettina Danica

More From Stroma - North Marine Adventure Trip

North Coast Marine Adventures To Try It

Caithness Waybaggers April 2002 - Ben Griam Mor from Garvault

Caithness Waybaggers March 2002 - Crofts of Ben-a-chielt to Rumster
Contrast this walk with April to see that the waybaggers go out in all weathers for their walks.

Caithness Waybaggers February 2002 - Thurso East To Dunnet
the very wet weather changed the route due to lots of flooding in the county.  In order to avoid the wettest parts the waybaggers chose a coastal walk in February.

4th Wick Guides Win Bug Competition
Nicola Milne Caithness Guide County Commissioner presented 6 Wick Brownies with the cup for coming first in their "Get The Guiding Bug  competition as part of a recruitment and awareness raising exercise.  Guides, Brownies and Rainbows groups all took part in separate competitions in Caithness.  Their Bug was pictures on a toilet cistern.

Collecting Daffodils At Noss For A Daffodil Whist Drive
Babys Gunn, Margaret Clyne and Janet Waugh were out collecting daffodils for a Daffodil Whist Drive on Friday 20 April at 7.30pm in the Staxigoe village Hall.  Prizes as well as daffodils and a cup of tea and a biscuit are included in the whist evening.  So if you fancy a hand of whist get along to Staxigoe this Friday.

Caithness Coast Between Noss And Staxigoe

New Harbour Road To Slipway Under Construction At Staxigoe

R Coghill Preservation & Builders Constructing Canadian Kit House At Staxigoe
This house arrived in two containers from Canada and is under construction in Staxigoe.  Others will follow as R Coghill expand their operations in these high quality timber frame houses with very high levels of insulation.  They have teamed up with Interhabs the company who manufacture the kits in Nova Scotia.

Caithness.Org Team Takes The North Coast Marine Jet Boat To Stroma
Yes the team Bill, Niall and Colin was joined by Robert Richmond who contributes many items to the castles section last night to take the high speed trip in the jet boat over to Stroma.  The evening trip was an electrifying high speed spray in all directions few miles over to the island to see the cliffs, seabirds, seals, site of Mestag castle, lighthouse the gloup entrance and much more.  We may have looked like something out of the circus but it was all to keep us dry warm and safe.  All worth while for an unmissable  experience we will all be doing again.  Due to the wind and tide in full flow we did not go up the east coast but stuck to the calmer west side of the island.  Lots more to come in this series of pictures of Stroma from the sea.

Warning To Residents About Pedlars - From Northern Constabulary
About 1305h on Saturday 13th April 2002, a call was received at Nairn Police Office from an elderly resident within the town stating that three men of Irish origin had just attended at her home and had attempted to sell her a three piece suite.   Anyone who has been approached by these men or who has information on their whereabouts is asked to contact their local police office immediately.

Disability Rights Commission April Newsletter

6th Wick Brownies Win Bug Competition
Nicola Milne Caithness Guide County Commissioner presented 6 Wick Brownies with the cup for coming first in their "Get The Guiding Bug  competition as part of a recruitment and awareness raising exercise.  Guides, Brownies and Rainbows groups all took part in separate competitions in Caithness.  The bug had to be made and photographed next to an unusual location.  The 6th Wick Brownies chose a fire engine and they are holding their winning picture.   Looks like this group of Brownies still has lots of fun every week.  They meet in the old Parish Church Hall every Tuesday at 4.00pm.

Ord - Helmsdale Road Upgrade Begins Spring 2003
The first phase of improvements to the A 9 between Helmsdale and the Ord of Caithness, is likely to go ahead in the spring of next year.

MFR Charity Trust Grants
The trust has run its annual fundraising drive and is now looking for applications for funding from registered and non-registered charities in the area.  Write to the co-ordinator Joyce Mackenzie, MFR, Po Box 371, Inverness by 6 May for details.

Highland Health Council AGM Open To The Public In Wick
The Health council is a statutory body in Scotland and represents patients interests.  Despite their abolition elsewhere Scotland still has a network albeit less than several years ago.  All parts of the Highlands have representatives.  The health council has staff based in Inverness who can assist with problems on many aspects in finding appropriate health care and complaints.  The meeting on Thursday is open to all.

Latest Ranger Notes
The summer seabirds are now arriving around the coastline, guillemots, razorbill and puffins are all gathering on the sea around the breeding cliffs. Black guillemots or tysties are around now with their black plumage and obvious white wing patches.

Helmsdale River From The A9 Bridge, Youth Hostel and House In The Broom

Broom Covered Hillsides At Helmsdale
Gorse and Broom may be a terrible bush to get rid of but at this time of year it makes a terrific yellow splash across parts the Caithness and Sutherland landscape.  the bright yellow contrasts sharply on the one side with the dramatic and ever changing blue and grey skies along the coast.  Artists frequently comment n the big skies in the north.  Well here at Helmsdale this is often seen as the showers bring our rainbows across the sea followed often a fast changing sky with the broom as the border in April and early May.  Later in the year this all changes to be replaced by the purples of the heather.  Pick a colour and then the season to come north.  Drive up one of the empty Straths for a different view.

Jump To One Of The Best Known Boxes To Caithness Folk
Not the bright red box of old having been upgraded many years ago.  This telephone is passed by everyone coming up the east coast and often used to report that travellers have "Arrived Home"  Probably being used a lot less now that so many folk are carrying mobile phones but still its in a strategic position especially in winter when the road gets blocked by snow from time to time.   Telephone Boxes Index

Unemployment Rate Down In Caithness During March - CASE Report 16 April
The number of unemployed in Caithness and Sutherland fell from 1,127 last month to 1,072. The revised unemployment rates in the Sutherland, Wick and Thurso ‘Travel to Work Areas’ respectively are as follows (corresponding figures for last month are shown in brackets) 8.6% (8.9%), 6.7% (7.3%) and 3.3% (3.4%).

Community Action Grants - Grey Coast Theatre
The Grey Coast Theatre Company has secured funding of £32,268 to support the costs of its tour of its latest production, “Farmlands", while Ormlie Community Association is to receive £40,000 to support the costs of developing its adventure play area. Both these approvals included assistance from the HIE Challenge programme. In addition, the Thurso in Bloom group have received an approval which will enable them to purchase computer equipment.

Dunbeath Preservation Trust Gets New Curator Post
The Dunbeath Preservation Trust will shortly have a new curator employed allowing the trust to expand its work in the visitor centre.  The Dunbeath Centre has recently had extensive renovations and improvements and we hope to bring you more up to date pictures in the near future.  They have been awarded a grant from Caithness & Sutherland Enterprise of £36,000 towards the cost of creating the new post.

Sutherland Hotel To increase Quality Heading For 4 Star Rating
The Parkhill Hotel, Durness has been awarded £28,600 towards their development projects aimed at attaining 4 Star ratings for their facilities.   They have also been awarded £50,000 towards upgrading the buildings

Community Planning
The Highland Council are to receive £24,600, over 3 years, towards the Wick Townscape Heritage project which is aimed at rejuvenating the Lower Pultneytown area of the town. The remaining approvals were for the Highland Rail Partnership, to cover the costs of providing advisory and support services to the Far North Line, and the Kyle of Sutherland Initiative, to support the costs of undertaking a community consultation project.

Sutherland Stoneworks Improving Premises
Meanwhile, Sutherland Stoneworks of Golspie was awarded assistance of £9700 towards both the upgrading of their premises and purchase of specialist equipment.

Scorrie Internet Services
The business arm of Caithness.Org Scorrie Internet Services has been awarded £5,540 towards creating a portal website for Sutherland businesses which can be found at  The new Sutherland Business pages site will be similar in style to the Caithness Business pages and will eventually have many cross links to aid navigation when searching for northern businesses.  It is aimed to complete the bulk of the set up work within 12 weeks.  The aim is to make the site as successful as the Caithness site that has found an increasing number of users.

E Access Bulletin - An Email newsletter On Technology For The Blind - April Issue 16 April
This email newsletter on technology issues for people with visual impairment and blindness continues to be re-published on Caithness.Org to point people to the publishers web site.  If you are interested in the topic bookmark the site or sign up for their free newsletter

Dornoch Cathedral, Sutherland

The Queen Elizabeth Castle Of Mey Trust Launch Their New Web Site
The Earl of Caithness a trustee of The Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust today announced the launch of the new web site.  Upgrading work at the castle that has been ongoing for some time will be completed in July.  The web site will carry information about the trust and later this year the details about opening times for the castle.  It is expected that everything will be ready for an August opening. 

Beinn Ratha & County March - Highland Rangers Walk
Sunday 21 April 2002  Meet at lay-by opposite Reay shop at 10am.  This is a moorland walk over rough ground, up to 242 metres. Reasonable level of fitness required.  Please bring walking boots and a packed lunch.  Walk weather permitting and free but donations welcome.  For further details contact the Highland Council Ranger Service on 01847 821531

The Windmill Tower At Hopefield Farm

More Pictures From Hopefield Farm

Lybster School 1952
A few names are in this copy from an earlier John O'Groat Journal but we will add a full list if anyone has one.  Also if you have an original copy of the picture we will replace it with a better one.

Road After Badbea
Here is another stretch of the A9 heading south.  This time a short way past Badbea the clearance village area on the cliffs.  Unfortunately we did not have time to walk along to Badbea on this trip for some more spectacular coastal pictures.  This picture was taken at about 8.30am and you can see the rush hour is in full swing.  And this is the main A9 north.

Heading Into Berriedale Braes
This latest view takes you into Berriedale Braes, one of the dramatic parts of the A9 road that although improved over the years still has twists and turns and steep angles to test your gear changing.  For you automatic type drivers you will still hear the car going through it paces as you hit the ups and downs of this, one of the most spectacular coastal roads in the county.  Here in late spring you can see a bit more just before the leaves begin to appear on the trees in the nearby wood that runs through the local estate.

Berriedale Church
This small church sits on the main A9 road on the left hand side going north.

Another Telephone Box To Guess Before You Go
continuing the theme of guess where this telephone will take you.  Today this one will take you to well know place to all travellers through Caithness.  Once one of the most strategic places and now although all vehicle north travel this excellent modern road a very under-populated part of the north of Scotland.  It has had people living in the area for thousands of years and many more in the past then now.  Take a look and why not take a walk around when you get there.  There is much that is hidden from the road and few signs to tell you what is around.

Highland Football Academy Launched
Dr Elaine Murray, Deputy Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, announced the launch of the Highland Football Academy following a Lottery Fund award of £1m as part of sportscotland's commitment to help create a network of football academies throughout Scotland and £300,000 from the reduction in pools betting duty monies (RPBD) also administered by sportscotland. The academy will be spread over three sites in Dingwall and Inverness.

Where Is That Telephone?
Here is a section to start you guessing.  Where is that telephone box?  Over the next few weeks we will add telephones from all over Caithness and a few from Sutherland....well maybe a lot from Sutherland.  Before you click try to guess where it is.  We will be putting on a few pictures of the box and the surrounding area near the telephone.  Some of the old red ones are still in place but gradually disappearing being replaced by the modern ones.  So in the next few months we will try to capture as many as we can before they disappear.  If you have an unusual one outside your house why not send us a picture of it and the surrounding area.  OK on with the show.

Candourity Arrives At Wick With Sand

Stained Glass In Caithness
Caithness churches and some other buildings have a wide selection of stained glass that is often not seen by visitors to Caithness.  This new section will begin to display some of the very attractive windows and panels that are in windows and doors in the county.  If anyone would like to contribute a picture or suggest one for inclusion please get in touch

Boats Recently At Scrabster

Highland Society For The Blind - Mobile Services
The Highland society For the Blind offers a range of services to people in the highlands who are blind or have failing eyesight.  They also have a mobile service that travels to different locations.  Times can be obtained direct from the society.  We have published the times of their next few stops for the next few weeks but it may be advisable to check before setting out in case of changes to their schedule.

Last Couple of Days Of "Interface" Exhibition At St Fergus Gallery
The exhibition in the St Fergus Gallery, Wick has only a couple of days to run.  Interface may ask as many questions as it answers depending on your point of view.  The exhibition touring the highlands has the work of several contemporary artist who are currently undertaking scientific research.  Here is a chance to see how a few artists interpret the scientific challenges of the new century as  others such as Damien Hirst did in the last or Leonardo in the 15th.   Does it stand up?  Check out St Fergus Gallery by Saturday.

Wick Girl's Pipe Band - Latest Pictures Added
The latest batch of that famous girls pipe band.  See them in Wick, London in 1949 and other places.  A couple of the pictures have been zoomed in on to see the band more clearly.

Yarrows Heritage Trust Forges Ahead With Latest Discoveries
Yarrows own equivalent of the Time Team from Cardiff university were back this week walking the recently discovered Mesolithic site at Oliclett on the Thrumster estate.  Stirling university soil scientists were up taking core samples and checking the structures under near the site area.  With evidence now mounting of man's early activity in Caithness gaining  and the work to bring more of Caithness archaeological structures to the notice of the public the trust are firing on all cylinders.  A business plan, quarterly newsletter, more visits by archaeologists are just a few of the activities pushing ahead to open up this small part of Caithness.

The Old Brewery, Manson's Lane, Thurso
the old brewery c.1798 built by local brewer Alex Manson still lies empty even after many abortive plans for new uses.  Suggestions for glass centre, theatre, arts complex and shifting of the North Highland Archive and many others have come to nothing so far.   The building still remains one of the most imposing stone buildings in the middle of Thurso and easily seen if you are walking from the town centre to the riverside

Highlands & Islands Enterprise - Appointment To Review Business Customer Care
Lochaber Enterprise chief executive Jackie Wright is to take on a new management role within the Highlands and Islands Enterprise network.  Mrs Wright (44) has been chosen to lead a major review which aims to modernise the ways the enterprise agency helps its business customers.  Her new post is a one-year appointment as HIE network product and process review director. She will be based primarily in Inverness and Lochaber, but will also travel to other local enterprise companies throughout the network area, which stretches from Shetland to Argyll.

Moving Sand At Wick Harbour Today
No new boats in the harbour today so John Hay sent us this picture of sand being shifted that was delivered to the harbour earlier in the week.

Latest Scrabster Pier Pictures

Wick Weather Facts And Information
Martin Duffy begins a new section on weather information.  Martin has been collecting and recording the weather daily since January 1995.  So if you think you cannot remember how long ago it was so wet or so dry, cold or hot (well maybe not hot) just check out Martin's weather pages.  Martin will be updating with a quarterly bulletin on how the weather has fared in the previous three months and pointing out nay unusual features.   For example did you know the last 18 days are the dryest in April on record in Wick.  Following a very wet period earlier this year when people were wondering if the rain would ever stop.   A few facts from earlier periods are also already entered.

Smith Terrace, Thurso
Smith Terrace coming from Scrabster takes you  past the caravan site on the left and leads on into Olrig Street seen below.

Olrig Street, Thurso - The Main Road Going To Scrabster From Town Centre

Fishing Vessel "Brestir" At Scrabster
A common feature nowadays at harbours is fish being loaded straight on to lorries having been pre-sold.  This means it does not have to pass through the fish market and gets on its way in the shortest possible time.  Many fishing boats of various European countries use the port of Scrabster. Since almost no fish is landed at Wick, Scrabster has become a very important part of the Caithness economy.  The new pier being built will allow for much larger ships to berth at Scrabster.

Looking Across The Outer Harbour At Wick

Two Minute Silence At Ulbster Arms, Halkirk Yesterday
Staff at the Ulbster Arms, Halkirk were joined by local river workers, farmers, anglers and others in observing a two minute silence as a mark of respect for the Queen Mother whose funeral too place yesterday.

Euroclydon Towed Into Scrabster Yesterday
Scrabster Harbour were contacted by mobile phone from the Teignmouth registered fishing vessel ‘Euroclydon’ (TH77) at about 8.15 am on 9 April 2002 after suffering from loss of power due to fuel problems in the Pentland Firth.

Wick Fire Engines Outside the Station Near The Harbour

London Show Raises Profile Of Dunnet Head
Further to a successful photographic exhibition last August, the Scottish Tourist Board have offered to host the exhibition again at their Cockspur St. London offices during April and May. Stunning photographs by Highland Ranger, Mary Legg, and Frank Garnet, Northampton, show the wildlife, flora and fauna on the Head and Dunnet Beach. Dunnet Bay Area Pages On Caithness.Org

More Of The Caithness Flags At Half Mast For The Queen Mother

The Star We Missed On Friday's "Stars In Their Eyes" At Blackstairs 9 April
David Morrison was one of the acts we missed on Friday night.  But the night was such a huge success they were doing it all again on Sunday evening.  Many of the participants turned up again for another run through.  We caught David on the front of the small stage in his Lee Marvin pose as he was for his rendition of "Wanderin Star".  David was for many years librarian at Wick library and since his retirement he has followed up his other interests including writing poetry, painting - his exhibition is on for two months in Mackays hotel at present.  In addition he edits the Caithness literary magazine "Scotia Review" Game for anything David will definitely be sticking to writing and painting.

This is not so much a group as an informal gathering every Wednesday in the Pentland Hotel, Thurso for ladies who are new to Caithness.    So if you are new to the county and want to meet some others who are also finding their way around just come along for a chat every week at 11.00am.  Nothing complicated and won't be asked to be on the committee - there isn't one.

Newtonhill Community Woodland Trail Guide
The Newtonhill Community Woodland comprises some 22 hectares of reclaimed land.  It is sited on the former county rubbish tip and officially opened in august 1996.  Is it so long ago that the lorries and trucks trundled all our rubbish for burial on the site.  Well the site was completely covered over and levelled.  It has a panoramic view of the surrounding Caithness countryside and has been planted with many trees and shrubs.  Still in tits early stages of growth the site has an abundance of wild flowers particularly in late summer.  but many plants can be found on this recently disturbed ground - sometimes in great numbers.  Friends of Newtonhill Group

Caithness Countryside Volunteers
If you fancy getting plenty of fresh air and don't mind getting your hands dirty then you could take part in the regular outings to work on small projects with the countryside volunteers of Caithness.  You need to register in advance with the Rangers.  Check out their programme for the rest of the year to see if anything appeals to you.

Ranger Guided Walks In 2002 Programme
A packed season of summer walks open to all members of the public for 2002.  Printed leaflets will be available at Tourist Board and other centres from May.  Meantime check it out here and whether you live locally or are visiting the county you are welcome to come along.

Caithness Critters
This popular outdoor group for Caithness children is currently full but you might like to check out the type of activities they do.   They take part in a range of outdoor experiences ranging from nature treks, cycling and small clean-ups all under supervision of the rangers. Check with the rangers from time to time if you or your children are interested.  If membership opens again we will post a notice on the web site.

NOSWA Now Part of Scottish Water Company
Scottish Water is a new organisation replacing East of Scotland Water, North of Scotland Water and West of Scotland Water and it provides water and waste water services to household and business customers across one third of the land area of Britain.  Scottish Water will be the 4th largest water services provider in the UK and the 12th biggest business in Scotland by turnover.

Items For Sale On The Message Board
Cost of ads? - Free -  Open? - 24 hours a Day - Seen? - Everywhere - Busy? - Believe it!!!
Just register for the Message board and sell your items or take a look to see if you can find something you are looking for.  An increasing volume of items is going through the boards.  Check it out.

Latest Web Site Launched - Sutherland Business Pages
From today our latest project begins.  The Sutherland Business Pages will build over the next 12 weeks into a comprehensive guide to Sutherland businesses with links to their web sites if they have one.  The new site has its own distinctive colour but in most ways will mirror the Caithness Business Pages with the same listings.

I'm Going Home - A Poem by Margaret Bates
For many long years I have travelled this earth
But now I’m returning to the land of my birth.
The cairns and the Brochs and the circles of stone
Are calling me back now
So I’m going home...

Flag At Half Mast Over Castle Of Mey And Flowers At The Castle Gate

Cargo Boat - "Ability"
The "Ability" was in Wick harbour for only a short time yesterday but just long enough for John Hay to catch a picture before she left.

Educational Resources Links - New Sections
A new set of pages on specific subjects added to the original mixed links page. Specific topic pages on Art, English, Geography, History, Maths, Natural History, Science, Fun Learning.  More will be added and the original page of links divided between the new categorised pages to ease searches.

Nice Day On Hopefield Farm, Thurso

Thurso River Walk Pictures Continued

Second Half Of Wick River Walk Pictures

Evidence Of Prehistoric Man At Oliclett - A Talk Covering Recent Discoveries
Meli Pannet who has been back in Caithness following up her earlier work out at Thrumster after the Mesolithic period discoveries last year.  She will give a talk on the evidence uncovered so far.  All welcome.

Palestine Updating News and Links
Our latest addition to the Updating News and links is Palestine.  A huge number of links have been added on the Indy media links page and will take you to a huge number of reports worldwide and from Palestine itself.  In many cases journalists can upload their reports straight to the web sites and stories can be up before many newspapers or TV have it on.

Latheron Hall Car Boot Sale
Latheron Hall is holding a Car Boot Sale on Saturday May 4th at 1 p.m., stallholders come along at 12 noon, a stall will cost £ 5.00 and there will teas, homebaking and a raffle all for hall proceeds.  Stalls will be inside and out (weather permitting).  We have new tables for the hall.  You may sell anything that is legal and not living.  To book a stall tel. 01593 741250.

Village Idiots Raised The Roof At Blackstairs, Wick

Yet More From Blackstairs, Wick - Stars Night

And Even More From Blackstairs, Wick - Stars In their Eyes

And Yes They are Doing It Again In A Couple Of Months

Rangers Nature Notes
First Swallows - a sign of summer.

Lambs Out and about In Caithness

Farm Flies Huge Union Jack Near Wick
Perhaps another salute to the Queen Mother whose funeral is on Tuesday next week

Karaoke At Old Smiddy Inn, Thrumster, Tonight
The same karaoke team that brought you the bash last night at Blackstairs, Wick take their music machine to Thrumster for Saturday night.  So if you fancy a drink in a country pub with some renditions of well known songs by locals or....even yourself head out to the Old Smiddy Inn tonight.

Heath Fire Near Wester
This heath fire burning yesterday at Wester is typical of several small heath fires over the last few days in various parts of Caithness.  None of them has got our of control.  It is surprising how fast the heath dries out considering all the wet weather the county had before Easter.

Flock Of Geese At Thrumster
At this time of the year Caithness has many flocks of geese.  Thrumster has been the place for them in recent days.  Several small flocks were around the area.  in the evenings they sometimes combine into one or two very large flocks in fields for the night.  If you are driving towards Wick from Thrumster just look left towards the loch and they are in many of the fields

More From Last Nights Blackstairs Bash In Wick
Are we nearly done yet???  Not yet.  Still more to come later.

Stars and More Stars From Blackstairs

Blackstairs Lounge, Wick Busier Than Gala Week For "Stars In Their Eyes"
Blackstairs Lounge in Wick was overflowing last night as the locals and regulars took to the stage as if they had been doing it all their life  - and some probably have.  Never shy at coming forward the Blackstairs folk had them dancing on the seats and they nearly took the roof off with the noise when the audience joined in.  Many more stars to come in this series of pictures.

Thurso River Walk
A great spring day yesterday so Caithness.Org took a stroll along the Thurso river in the town.  More pictures later of this stroll.

Hempriggs House Invites You For Cream Tea
Hempriggs House is one of the older country houses in Caithness.  It is now a nursing home and they are having an afternoon where you are invited to tea and other activities including raffle, bottle stall, bran tub.  Get your tea leaves read and walk around the spring flowers around the house and gardens.

Boats - A Poem By Margaret Bates
This poem written in 1968 by Margaret Bates who has had poems in published in several anthologies reflects on the boats in the harbour at Wick.  It is a poignant reminder in the week when the last wooden seine net boat in the mainland fleet of the north of Scotland is being scrapped.  Another era of Wick harbour has come to a close as WK126 The Faithful heads for the breakers yard in Stornoway this week.  Skipper George More has decided that the economics of inshore fishing are no longer sustainable.  And so this poem looks back briefly at a busier time in Wick harbour.

Further On Wick River Walk

Halkirk's "Party In The Park" For Queen's Golden Jubilee Celebrations
Halkirk folk are getting their plans ready for their own celebration under the heading "Party In The Park". Caithness.Org will be trying to get to all the vents in the county on the day to take pictures for the sections being set up as they are notified.  If your village has an event planned then send us details and we will set up your own pages for the programme, times etc.  After the day these pages will carry the pictures from your events.

Halkirk Well Organised  for 2002 Gala Week In June
Halkirk Gala committee are well organised for their Gala Week which This year runs from Sunday 9 June to Sunday 15 June. Other Gala Committees can send in their programmes whenever they are ready for publication.

Wick River Walk
From Near the Bridge in the centre of Wick you can walk along the river for about a mile to the picnic site near the holiday caravan site.  The river opens out to its flood area where a huge range of birds are to be found in the reed beds, river and banks.  Trees line the walk until further out.  Here are the first few pictures with guessed it lots more later.

Miller Academy  - P7 - 2 June 1987
Latest addition to the growing Schooldays section of pictures.

1962 Miller Academy Centenary Picture - Who's Who Problems
We have two incomplete lists of names for this class in 1962 but hardly any agreement n the names.  Does anyone happen to have a good memory of the class or a picture with all the names written on the back?   Any other suggestions welcome.  If you know yourself we will accept that as a definite and put it in.  And er..... if you do not know yourself? ......ach weel!!!!!!!

New Neurological Drop In Centre Opening Shortly In Thurso - Preview
The new centre set up and run by volunteers  is made up of various support groups for several conditions.  They have brought together their efforts to open this new centre in Thurso on 20 April.

Coral Reefs Study At Environmental Research Institute, Thurso
During these cold, windy days in Caithness, the warm seas of the tropics may seem far away. However, for the scientists at the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso who are currently investigating the fate of corals reefs of the Indian Ocean the story is rather different.

Wick's New Police Station - Progress Pictures

Aircraft Incident At Wick - Passengers Continue On Another Plane
About 11:40am on Wednesday 3rd April, 2002, a Loganair Saab 340 aircraft was flying from Edinburgh to Sumburgh, Shetland Islands, on a scheduled air service. As the aircraft entered Kirkwall airport air space, a fault developed with the port engine of the aircraft which resulted in the engine being shut down. The aircraft then diverted to Kirkwall airport. However due to strong crosswinds at Kirkwall, landing there was deemed unsafe and the aircraft diverted to Wick.

Station Road And Those Daffies

Books of Condolence Open At All Highland Council Offices
The Highland Council has organised books of condolences, to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, to be available in all main Council offices and in all 36 Service Points. The books will be available for anyone to sign until 5pm on Tuesday 9 April. Flags at council buildings will fly at half mast until after Tuesday’s funeral.

Council Tax Collection At All Time High
The financial year has ended in Highland with the Council Tax collection rate rising to an all time high of 92.21%, with more than 48,000 households now paying by Direct Debit. And since the Council Tax was introduced in 1993, the Council has collected all but 4% of what was due for the initial years of the tax.

Ken Butler's Botanical Pages - A Seasonal Newsletter On Caithness Plants
This new section will hold the seasonal newsletters from Ken butler who is the Botanical Recorder for Caithness he holds and maintains all the information about wild plants and their distribution, on behalf of the Botanical Society of the British Isles.  Ken has kindly agreed to publish articles with information and pictures on what you might find at particular times of the year in the Caithness.  We have also started an alphabetical index of the plants and flowers that Ken mentions to ease location as the series grows.

More Crafts From The Bridge Street Church Festival

Reminder About Comet Ikeya-Zhang Now In The Night Sky
On the nights of April 3rd, 4th and 5th it passes through the constellation Andromeda appearing, by chance, in the sky close to a giant spiral galaxy, the Andromeda Nebula, similar to our own Milky Way Galaxy.  You will probably need binoculars unless your eyesight is very good.  Thanks to Graham Mellor for the reminder

Flags All Over Caithness Are At Half Mast
The flags are all at half mast around the county as seen by these in Wick today.

Floats And Rafts For Birds Launched On St John's Pool
Mary Legg, Ranger and the volunteers completed their work on the floats and platform at St John's Pool near St John's loch yesterday.  It is hoped these new places will provide protection for birds nesting on them from predators that have been taking their toll in recent years.

Market Square, Wick Saturday 30 March

Caithness Critters Easter Treasure Hunt
The Caithness Critters is a group run by the Ranger Service in Caithness for children interested in nature, environment and conservation.  They take part in a number of activities and outings organised by the Rangers.  this Easter they were out in the Newton Hill Community Woodland just outside Wick having a Treasure hunt.

Queen's Jubilee Celebrations In Caithness
A new section has been set up to hold details of the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations in Caithness.  A draft programme for Thurso is already in.  If you are holding any events just send them in to have a page set up for your group.  Then just let us know of any changes or additions to update the page.  This section will later hold pictures of any events we get to ourselves.  Thurso's programme is already in.

Chapter Four of The History Of Caithness - Second Half Now Completed
More death and destruction, murder and mayhem, Burning of the Bishop. A new Bishop and the Earl of Sutherland and a body of highlanders attack the invading Danish pirates.  The King of Norway extracts tribute from Caithness on his way to his defeat at the battle of Largs where he lost 16,000 men.

More Daffodil Views

Luxury Train Tour "Pride Of The Nation" Arrives In Caithness
A luxury train tour running from London through the Highlands to Caithness arrived yesterday at Wick.  Passengers boarded coaches for a short trip to John O'Groats whilst the staff prepared the train for dinner and left to pick up the passengers at Thurso station.  The train was pulled by the engine called The Royal Scotsman.

Records Still Tumbling At As March Is The Highest Yet
Hits 3,644,130, Pages 331,848, Visitors 81,445.  Visitor numbers to the sites have jumped again by a huge amount.  Hits were up and page views were down.  Daily average visitors are 2626 and hit rate 117,552.  Thanks to everyone yet again for your continuing support.


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