More Snow - Coghill Bridge, Wick and Sheep At Lybster
Thanks to everyone sending in pictures for this snowy Collection of Caithness

Thurso Snow Scenes
Temperatures In Caithness were very low last night with some place getting a light shower of snow.  At Noon today temperature at the web site was Minus 4C.

More Caithness Whispers

James Ross - Pianist From Wick Was Heard On BBC Radio Celtic Connections
James Ross from Wick whose career in music is still expanding was heard on Celtic Connections on BBc Radio Scotland a few days ago.  You can still catch the programme by following the link and Play Again.  James and his trio play four sets in the second half f of the programme.  You can jump through the programme in five minute jumps to reach James or paly the whole programme

New Lambs Get Their First Taste Of Winter At Tannach

History Of Episcopal Church In Wick - Can You Help?
Gordon Johnson and Dr. Richard Stanley are working on a history of the St. John's Episcopal Church of Scotland, Wick, which was formed as a congregation in 1855 and is still going strong.   Gordon has access to the early minutes and accounts of the congregation, and are concentrating on information about the members of the congregation, as well as the clergy who served it.

Thurso FC V Alness United - Saturday 31 January
Following on from last week's progression to their second cup final of the season having defeated league leaders Golspie 5-0 in The PCT Cup Semi on Saturday, Thurso F.C now concentrate back on to league duties as they face a tough away trip to Alness to take on Alness United. The game kicks off at 2 p.m and the bus leaves The Dammies at 10.45, weather permitting of course.

News from SCRAP ( Sutherland & Caithness Recycling Action Partnership)
SCRAP held its third AGM on 21st January 2004, at which it was decided that it was time to offer thanks to various garden centres and individuals who have helped with the distribution of compost bins.  A total of 1,231 bins have been sold so far, going to 818 households

School Closures Today In Caithness
Cansibay Primary and Keiss Nursery closed.  Canisbay opened but as the school transport arrived the decision was taken to send the children hope as further very heavy snow showers had commenced.  Bower Primary - school transport not operating as Contractor decided that back roads dangerous.

Wick Makes Broadband Trigger Figure  - Sign Ups For Wick Reach 502
Plenty of happy folk around now in the Wick exchange area as we wait to hear if BT accept the figures and announce a date for Broadband to be made available in the area.  If anyone else has not yet signed up please do so as there is still a possibility that BT might reject any bogus sign-ups.  A few more folk signing up will ensure that it goes ahead.  Well done to all of you for getting involved and all the folk organising sign-ups from what ever sector around the county.  The graphs on this site and others will not have caught up yet.

The Highland Council has welcomed the Scottish Executive’s decision to go to public consultation on local management proposals developed by Highland Shellfish Management Organisation (HSMO). HSMO has prepared local management proposals it seeks to implement via a Regulating Order under the Sea Fisheries Shellfish Act.

Energy Awareness Seminar At Wick Cancelled Due To Weather Conditions Rescheduled
The seminar that was meant to be held in Mackays Hotel, Wick today has been rescheduled for 13 February 11.00am - 1.00pm.  Places can be booked by contacting the office of MSP Maureen MacMillan 01463 716299 or email

Come It Is Really Easy To Sing Up For Broadband - Complete All The Sections On This Form
Wick is nearly there so just get a few more of your friends to sign up.

Barrock And Halkirk Moving Up in the Broadband Sign Up Stakes
Just as Wick moved up with higher sign-up figures today so did Barrock and Halkirk.  With lower trigger figures they might not be too far behind.

More Snow Scenes From Thrumster And Wick Today
Met Office Weather Forecast - Friday  - Outbreaks of sleet and rain with snow on high ground. Becoming brighter from North later. Maximum temperature 4 deg C (39 deg F). 
Outlook for Saturday
Bright with further outbreaks of rain and sleet.

Urgent works required at Thurso Burial Ground and Scalesburn Road in Wick have been given the go-ahead with funding of £300,000 assured from The Highland Council's central capital budget of the Transport, Environmental and Community (TEC) Services. Highland Council members at the TEC Services committee today approved £150,000 funding for Thurso Burial ground and a further £150,000 for works at Scalesburn Road to be carried out in the current financial year.

New Uniforms For Caithness And North Sutherland Choir
UKAEA Dounreay have sponsored uniforms for Caithness & North Sutherland Children's Choir, which is run for children from Primary 4 age to Secondary 2. Throughout the year the choir sings at local events entertaining all ages of the community. Heather Lewry, conductor and chairperson of the choir said " Caithness & North Sutherland Children's Choir would like to thank UKAEA for their sponsorship of new uniforms.

Wick Folk Making Surge In Sign Ups As Total Reaches 422 Towards Broadband Future
Nearly there - only 78 to go.    Keep going folks and find those last few to take us to  the magic 500.

Tomorrows House Today - Seminar At Portland Hotel For Friday  - Postponed
The seminar organised for Friday at the Portland Hotel has been cancelled due to the weather.  The organisers will set it up again at a later date.

No Newspapers Today In Caithness
Newspapers did not make it into Caithness today due to snow blocking roads.


The Highland Council's Director of Education Culture and Sport Bruce Robertson has taken advice regarding weather and road conditions and advised head teachers that school transport should run as normal tomorrow (Friday) 30 January 04.  He expects all schools to be open unless there are good local reasons for a partial or full closure.

Snow Scenes In Caithness
Wendy Sutherland has already been out with her camera and send us a picture of Wick last night and a few of Thrumster today

Due to a continued deterioration in weather conditions and a concern for pupil safety, The Highland Council's Education Culture and Sport Service decided there would be no school transport operating today (Thursday) in Caithness. Sutherland and other Highland counties.  The A9 was closed at Berriedale today.

Winter In Sutherland
A few seasonal scenes from the Sutherland Collection.  these pictures are from an earlier winter but no doubt the pictures will be very similar with today's weather in the north of Scotland

All Schools In Caithness Closed Today
With more snow forecast for today and school transport already cancelled all Caithness schools have taken the decision not to open to prevent the problems of trying to get pupils home again in worsening conditions.  Snow was falling heavily in Caithness and across various parts of the Highlands this morning.

Caithness Takes Two Highlands And Islands Media Awards
Young Journalist of the Year is Ally McGilvray of the John O'Groat Journal, Wick, whose colleague Corrina Thomson, was highly commended in the Features' section.  Photographer of the Year is John Baikie (left), a freelance from Castletown.

Wick Broadband Sign-Ups Still Moving Up
We first made an entry in the Broadband section in March 2002 following the debate running on the message board at that time.   It seems unbelievable it has taken so long to reach 395 sign ups where we stand  as of 27 January.  Thurso has passed the magic 500 and Broadband is now available leaving other parts of Caithness trailing in the seeming stone age of slow connections.  Will we reach the magic 500 before we reach two years of trying to get sign-ups.   Encourage anyone who has not yet signed up to do so.  Only 105 need in Wick, 121 in Halkirk or see the section for other exchanges including Castletown.

Weather Conditions Deteriorating In The North
This picture taken about 3.30pm showed only light snow but the area has drifting snow on several roads being kept open by snow ploughs and gritter lorries. 
Weather Forecast From Met Office
Tonight Snow showers continuing with further blizzards and bitterly cold winds expected. Minimum temperature -4 deg C (25 deg F).
Outlook for Thursday - Fewer snow showers giving way to sleet and rain.

Members of The Highland Council’s Planning, Development, Europe and Tourism Committee at Council headquarters in Inverness today upheld a decision made by the Caithness Area Planning, Development, Europe and Tourism Committee on 8 December 2003 to remove the condition of agricultural occupancy on a dwelling house which was earlier granted planning permission with the agricultural occupancy condition attached to it in December 2002 by Caithness councillors.

Maternity Public Meeting Cancelled Due To Weather Conditions
Due toe severity of the weather conditions in Caithness the meeting planned for tonight in the Assembly Rooms, Wick has been cancelled until a later date.

Due to deteriorating weather conditions and a concern for pupil safety, The Highland Council's Education Culture and Sport Service has decided there will be no school transport operating tomorrow 29 January 2004 (Thursday) in Caithness, Sutherland Sutherland and other counties

Most Caithness Schools Closed By Lunchtime Today
Due to deteriorating weather conditions across Caithness and the north today most schools had closed for the day by lunchtime.

Highland Council Deploys Entire Fleet To Keep Roads Open
Drifting snow and icy patches affected regional roads throughout the Highlands, with poor visibility making travel difficult. On the A9 in Caithness, the Council responded to request from BEAR Scotland to help keep the trunk road open. The Council deployed its entire fleet of 140 gritters, 21 towable salt spreaders, nine snowblowers and 62 pavement clearing vehicles to treat roads and pavements and clear them of snow.

Altnabreac School
Another of the old schools in Caithness right near the boundary with Sutherland.  The school has been closed for many years but is still used today as a private home saving it from deteriorating into a ruin.  This was the most isolated primary school in the county with no made up roads (Still the same today) and only the railway station nearby.

Under 17 Caithness County Badminton Championships
County Championships of which there was an entry of 16 boys and 12 girls played on Wednesday 22nd January in Wick (boys singles and doubles) and Thursday 23rd January (girls singles, doubles & mixed) In Thurso

Caithness Schools Closed Today
A number of schools in Caithness were closed today due to snow.  the schools affected up to 10.00am were Bower, Crossroads, Dunbeath , Keiss, Lybster, Thrumster and Watten.  Other schools may close later in the day depending on local weather conditions

Severe Weather Warning
AFFECTING Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City, Angus, Fife, Perth and Kinross, Highlands, The Western Isles, Orkney Isles, Shetland Islands and Moray.  Snow showers will continue to affect many parts of Northern Scotland today. The showers will be heavy at times and giving further accumulations of 5 to 10cm. In addition, gale to severe gale northerly winds will cause severe drifting of the lying snow. There will be gusts to 70mph over exposed parts of the Northern Isles, the North Highlands and Aberdeenshire. This will result in blizzard conditions. Driving conditions will be very hazardous.
Issued by the Met Office, Aberdeen. Issued on: Wednesday 28 January, 2004 at 07:56
Expires on: Wednesday 28 January, 2004 at 21:00 

Winter Emergency Numbers  - This page can always be found via the Helplines page in the community index

A Fun Night Out For “Women Only”  - Rugby Come & Try Night
Wick High School Gym - Monday 2nd February 7pm - 8pm -
Thurso High School Gym - Monday 9th February 7pm - 8pm - You must be over 15yrs to attend

Strathmore Forest
If anyone tells you there are not many trees in Caithness just ask them if they have been to the forests at Strathmore.  With hundreds of thousands of trees the forest stretches for many miles with plenty of roads and walks and a nice one round Loch Caise.

Scotscalder Area
More views around Scotscalder and Loch Calder - another of the larger lochs in the county. 

Scotscalder Village Hall
This picture was taken when we were out visiting the Scotscalder area on Sunday

Written Question About Broadband Access At Scottish Parliament On 21 January
Nora Radcliffe (Gordon) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive what percentage of households currently has access to a broadband internet connection. Mr Jim Wallace: Around 70% of Scottish households can now access a broadband internet connection.

Caithness Business Club Takes To Streets Of Wick To Encourage Broadband Sign-ups
Members of the Caithness Business Club will be out in the Market Square, Wick on Saturday to encourage more folk to sing up to show an interest in getting Broadband in the Wick area.  Currently there are 390 folk who have signed up and a further 110 are needed to reach the 500 trigger figure for BT to have the local exchange upgraded.

Caithness Committee Of Highland Council  - Notes
Full agendas and minutes are posted on the Highland council web site once prepared.  Here are a few notes on the Caithness Committee meeting from Monday 26 January.  This week's meeting covered a range of topics from Castle Girnigoe, South School wick Pedestrian Crossing, Help for a new web site for Caithness Mental Health Support Group, Assistance for Wick Players for their new premises, A special extension of opening for Thurso Caravan site during the Caithness Country Music Festival, Transfer of land for the new Women's Refuge,  Replacement of fitness equipment at Wick and Thurso swimming pools in the next few weeks.

Scotscalder Station
Scotscalder Station is owned privately but trains still stop there.  Like many small Highland stations there is no ticket office and tickets are purchased once on board.

Scotscalder School
Scotscalder School joins our growing list of old schools closed many years ago.  Like many others the school house is still used today and here the old outside toilet blocks are in good condition as the owners have maintained the roofs.

The Government has agreed to work in partnership with The Highland Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar over a review of shipping safety in the Minches. The Councils won this assurance at a meeting with Shipping Minister, David Jamieson MP, in London today (Monday) when they highlighted their safety concerns and their misgivings about the sinking and subsequent unsuccessful salvage of the freighter, MV Jambo, and its cargo last summer.

The Highland Council is to urge the Scottish Executive to modernise outdated legislation surrounding school transport to significantly increase the number of pupils qualifying for free travel to and from school.  Members of the Education Culture and Sport Committee want the Executive to change the rules governing eligibility so that children under eight years qualify if they live one mile or more from school and children 8 years and over qualify if the live two miles or more from school. The current thresholds are two miles and three miles respectively.

A new scheme aimed at encouraging young people from low-income households to remain in full-time education between the ages of 16 to 19 will be introduced into Highland Schools from August 2004 and is expected to be fully operational by 2006. Funded by the Scottish Executive, the new 'Education Maintenance Allowances' will be administered by The Highland Council's Education, Culture and Sport Service and will replace the existing system of Higher School Bursaries.

Iain Todd, Director of Oil and Gas Industry Development at the Department of Trade and Industry, visited UKAEA Dounreay where he met senior staff to discuss how the decommissioning skills being developed at Dounreay could be used to support other sectors. Accompanied by Carol Gunn of the HIE decommissioning task force, Mr Todd was keen to learn how the skills and experience could be used to support the Government's long-term renewable energy policies

Maternity Public Meeting - Assembly Rooms Wick
Wednesday 28 January 7.30pm
The Friends of Caithness General who have been spear heading the campaign to preserve Consultant led maternity services. Rather than wait for the next turn of events they are now to set up an action group to include other sectors of the community. Everyone is invited to contribute their ideas as to how this can be carried forward. 

Thurso FC Triumph
Thurso won their PCT Cup semi-final 5-0 on Saturday afternoon with goals in the first half by Brian Gray (pen), Jamie MacKenzie, Allan Sutherland, followed by two more in the second half from Nigel MacKenzie and Phil Makhouli.   Ross Sutherland was awarded man of the match and received a bottle of champagne by matchball sponsor Steve Webster of BT Global Services in Thurso (picture to follow). Thurso now play Balintore in The final at Dudgeon Park in Brora on Saturday the 21st of February.  Next match for Thurso is a tough away trip to Alness United this Saturday afternoon.

Lochdhu Lodge
The lodge dates from around 1895 and once belonged to the Sinclair family. The house was built some twenty years after the nearby Altnabreac Station where the building materials were transported to as there were no suitable roads. The house was for while a hotel but this closed in 1975 and the house reverted to a private residence.

AEA Batteries On Mars The Best By Millions Of Miles
As science enthusiasts celebrate the initial success of Mars Express's mission, scientists at AEA Battery Systems are also celebrating their role in the mission... the power behind the science. As European space science takes a great leap forward with the broadcasting today of the first video sequence featuring famous Martian landmarks and other initial results of the Mars Express orbiter's mission, British scientists from AEA Battery Systems, who provide the power to the Mars Express, are among many raising their hopes of discovering the lost Beagle 2 Lander.

Continuing The Sutherland Collection
These two birds take us back into the Sutherland Photo Collection with a mix of birds of prey and more views of that part of the county coming soon.

Georgemas Junction
Georgemas Junction the place where the trains from the south have traditionally split  for Wick or Thurso.  The name comes from the old fair held on St George's Day.  In recent years the junction has had a new lease of life with trains being used to deliver for Safeways, Norfrost and road materials.

Last Week To Sign Broadband Petition At Scottish Parliament

Caithness Calm And Stormy
The last few pictures of this set of from the biodiversity collection show some contrasts in Caithness weather and  another one of a deer in the snow.

From Colourful Birds To Fighting Deer
Following on from more fantastic bird shots are a few of other animals including deer and one superb picture of deer fighting.  Caithness has like many parts of the Highlands a large deer population but you often need to go out into the hillls and moors to see them.  Herds of smaller Roe Deer may be seen at many forest sites and the Red and Sika deer nearer the slopes of higher ground.

More Birds In the Biodiversity Set
With the huge variety of habitats in Caithness from coastal and cliffs to inland meadows and bogland there is a great deal to see for anyone interested in nature.  From the static population to migrating populations and many one off visitors taking a rest on their journeys north and south.

More Fungi In The Biodivestiy Collection
There is a wide variety of fungi in Caithness and if you are interested in this the Rangers have walks from time to time going out especially to look at this aspect of the county.  Just watch out for their notices.

People living on the Island of Tiree and in Port Charlotte on Islay are celebrating reaching their BT set trigger levels for Broadband.  Locals in both communities have carried out a rigorous campaign to ensure the magic number of 100 registrations was reached. In less than three weeks, both exchanges went from having amongst the lowest level of registrations across Argyll to leading the field.    If Tiree can do it can Wick?   Signing up now is probably the biggest thing Wickers can do for the area right now to ensure the town gets on the Broadband map.

Patriotic Pulteneytown Family From World War One
The latest item sent to us by Maureen Materi in Canada is this article in her continuing quest into the Miller family from the John O'Groat Journal Friday 7th April 1916.  It shows men all relatives of one couple in Wellington Street, Wick - sons and sons-in-law.  anyone watching a series on BBC 2 television at the moment called "Scotland's Empire" may see in this family history in part just how widespread Scots became and yet retained massive connections back home like this Miller family from Caithness.

A JOINT Police operation in Shetland has resulted in the seizure of controlled drugs with a street value of £25,000. Around 25 officers, mainly from Northern Constabulary but including officers from Grampian, took part in the raids which all came under the banner of Operation Lapel. Also used during the searches were drug detection dogs from the Shetland-based charity Dogs Against Drugs. Large quantities of Heroin, Ecstasy tablets and Cannabis resin were recovered from various addresses in Lerwick at the end of a lengthy operation which spanned several months. 

More Caithness Biodiversity Photographs - Set Nine
We begin this last set in this series of pictures.  So successful have the pictures been that some folk have been in touch wishing to contribute their own pictures.  We will shortly set up an additional section for anyone who wants to add to the Biodiversity Collection as we cover ever more of what is to be found in Caithness.

Local businessman Kevin Imlach (23) has drawn on the assistance available in his area from a Royal source to help develop his business as fencer and drystane dyker. The Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT) gave help at the outset of Kevin's enterprise at the end of last year with a funding package of £2000 as well as professional business support to guide the transition to self employment. Mr Imlach said; "It has been a long process in getting my business off the ground but making contact with the PSYBT has been invaluable with their understanding of my circumstances and

Thurso F C Tackle Golspie On Saturday
Saturday afternoon Thurso F.C have the chance to take part in their second cup final of the season when they play Golspie in The PCT Cup Semi-Final at The Dammies (1.30 p.m kick-off). If they win they will play Balintore in The Final on February 7th, probably at Golspie. This match will be sponsored by BT Global Services in Thurso -  and Senior BT operations Manager Steve Webster will be in attendance to present the man of the match prize.  

Dawn Breaking Over Dunnet
Michael Draper has sent us this picture of dawn breaking over Dunnet last week proving that Caithness can be beautiful at any time of the year even if you have to be up early to see some of it.  Later this year a few more folk may see it in Dunnet when the Caithness Walking Festival gets going based at Dunnet.  Plans are well underway for many activities during the week of the festival.  You can keep up to date with it at the Caithness Walking Festival web site and find the link in our Walking Pages and the What's On

Highlands & Islands Could Be At Forefront Of New Arts Movement Says Rob Gibson MSP
‘The Highlands and Islands could be at the forefront of a new arts movement’ according to Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson.   The SNP MSP comments come in the wake of a system 3 poll carried out by The Herald newspaper that shows that 31% of the people believe that Scottish Traditional Music should receive more funding than any other type of performing art in Scotland excluding the theatre.  Mr Gibson (who ran the Highland Traditional Music Festival in Dingwall for 20 years) said - "This poll is a real fillip to the Highlands and Islands as it supports what we’ve been doing

Higher standards of environmental protection and lower levels of radioactive emissions mean the clean-up of Dounreay is being carried out with minimal impact on the environment. So said Dipesh Shah, chief executive of UKAEA, when he officially opened a £7.5 million plant that is setting new standards for the control and disposal of low-level effluent from the decommissioning of Britain's fast reactor experiment. The Low Level Liquid Effluent Treatment Plant, which took three years to build, is an important part of UKAEA's strategy to clean up effluent

South School, Wick - January Newsletter
Lots of information and updates for south school folk.

North Airports’ Passenger Figures Rise to Over 700,000
More than 700,000 passengers flew via airports in the North of Scotland in the past nine months. Figures for the third quarter of 2003/04 issued by Highlands and Islands Airports today (22nd January 04) show that 726,751 travellers used the company’s 10 airports in the nine months to end of December. This is an increase of more than 50,000 passengers on the previous year’s running total. 

Particle Number 47 Found At Sandside Beach

Winter Wedding
Recently married DEIDRE STEVEN, of Miller Avenue Wick, daughter of former Convenor of Caithness Area Committee John Rosie and KEVIN MACKAY of Muirfield Road, Brora.  They were married and had a reception at Ackergill Tower

Senior representatives of The Highland Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are to meet Shipping Minster, David Jamieson, in London on Monday to explore options for safety measures to be brought in to regulate the transportation of hazardous cargo through the Minches.   The Councils will highlight their misgivings about the sinking and subsequent unsuccessful salvage of the freighter, MV Jambo, and its cargo last summer and speak more generally about the need for measures to minimise the risk of accidents in the stretch of water which separates the two council areas. 

Divers, Fishermen And Local People Asked To Look Out For Rare Underwater Plant
Divers, inshore fishermen and local people from West Sutherland and North West Ross are being asked to report sightings of a rare underwater plant. Common Eelgrass, (Zostera marina) is a species of seagrass with leaves that are said to look like green eels when they move with the current of the sea. It is the subject of a survey being carried out this year by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to find out where it occurs around the north coast. Common eelgrass likes a sheltered sand or mud substrate to grow in and does not like to grow deeper than 10m. There are three different species of eelgrass in the UK and all are considered scarce. It is an important species for the biodiversity of Scotland's marine environment by providing shelter for flatfish and, in some areas, for cephalopods such as squid and octopus. 

UKAEA Support For Salvation Army White Water Rafting Event
Dounreay has recently donated money to the Salvation Army in support of their highly successful sponsored white water rafting fund-raising event that was held in John O'Groats last year.  Margaret Shortreed, Salvation Army Songster Leader, said 'We are very grateful to all the organisations who have contributed towards the white water rafting and to Dounreay for their additional donation and also to the Dounreay Firefighters who took part.  The monies raised will assist with the wide variety of ongoing work of the Salvation Army within the local community in the Thurso area'.

Starve The Cameras Campaign
Here is an interesting twist at this web site to reduced the number of speeding fines in February.  Aimed at drawing what they see as attention to taking cash from motorists rather that just slowing drivers down.  Are speed cameras aimed at raising cash from 3 million fines.  Take a look and you decide and er slow down anyway - it makes sense. 

Wick Reaches 376 Sign Ups For Broadband Today
the number of folk signed up for Broadband has gone up but only very slowly in recent weeks.  Another 124 folk in the Wick area are required to hit the magic 500 trigger figure to have the exchange upgraded to allow Broadband to be enabled.  Thurso has already been switched on having passed the trigger figure a few weeks ago.  It is unfortunate that Wick has the same trigger figure but there is little that can be done about that other than everyone who has singed up already tries to make sure anyone else using the Internet signs up to express and interest (It is not a commitment)   Remember any business people can sign up at the office and at home if you have a different telephone number.

Rob Gibson MSP Retains Stance On GM Crops
SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands Rob Gibson has voiced his support for SNP MP Mike Weir’s early day motion in the House of Commons urging caution on Genetically Modified Crops. The motion was introduced following findings from the United States Department of Agriculture that showed that some GM crops which were supposedly herbicide resistant actually required greater use of herbicides in later years.

One of the most important collections in the history of nuclear energy has been preserved for future generations after a £400,000 investment in a new archive facility at Dounreay. The archive is home to some 10 million pages of paper records contained in 21,000 boxes that would stretch for three kilometres if laid end to end. The records chart the history of Dounreay from its earliest construction through the pioneering days of research and development of Britain's fast reactor experiment to the modern-day decommissioning of the site. 

Charity Triples - Bowlers Competitors Raise £585 for Crossroads Care
The Town & County Bowls Club held its annual Billy Bain Memorial Charity Triples Competition on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th January, which is sponsored by UKAEA. There were a total of 28 teams entered with each team being made up with members from different clubs around the county. The total raised over the weekend for Crossroads Care was £585.

Unemployment  -  Seasonal Rise In December
Overall, the number of people unemployed in Caithness and Sutherland rose from 738 last month to 839. The revised unemployment rates in the Sutherland, Wick and Thurso 'Travel to Work Areas' respectively are as follows: 4.9% (3.9%), 3.8% (3.6%) and 2.6% (2.4%).

Mackays Hotel, Wick To Upgrade To Four Star
Mackay’s Hotel, Wick has been awarded assistance by Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise of up to £85,500 towards the costs of upgrading the hotel to achieve a 4 Star grading.   Also assisted under the Finace For Business programme were D & A Reid is to receive up to £5,475 to contribute towards the cost of purchasing specialist packaging equipment for their bakery business, while Rogart Vets has been awarded assistance of up to £1,900 towards the purchase of specialised scanning equipment.  Also assisted was Wick Golf Club, who received approval of up to £11,000 towards the costs of a new maintenance and storage building,

Community Assistance Grants From CASE
Pulteneytown People’s Project (PPP) has received approval of £5,663 towards the establishment and running of a Breakfast Club and After School Club based at the South School.   The environmental body Plantlife Scotland manages a reserve at Munsary in Caithness. Assistance of £707 will enable the body’s local management group to undertake a full site access plan for visitors.   Plantlife Scotland  also received £2,119 under Community Economic Development for its access plan.  Clan Sinclair Trust are to receive £2,056 towards their work on a business plan for the re-development of the Castle Girnigoe complex at Noss Head, Wick.

Northlands Creative Glass To Offer Student Accommodation
The internationally-acclaimed North Lands Creative Glass glass studio in Lybster is to receive £12,246 towards converting the former school-house, which is attached to its studio complex, into an accommodation unit for glass students and tutors.

Please note the following roads are closed due to flooding.  Diversions are in place and roads will reopen when safe to do so. A837 Invershin to Rosehall - flooded at Linsidemore - U224 Strath Oykel - flooded at the Oykel Bailey Bridge C6 Brora to Rogart

Rangers Winter Programme February - April 2004
A variety of walks and activities in the countryside of Caithness to get you out and about.  Apart from some interesting Walks the programme also include Bird Watching suitable beginners on the Wick and Thurso rivers and Star Watching with an astrologer 

Achreamie School  - Around 1952
Helen Gibson has sent in this picture of her class at Achreamie school near Dounreay.  This is the first class photograph we have been sent of Achreamie so if anyone would like to add a few more then get in touch.

St Johns Loch Improvement Association
At a meeting of the Executive held on Wednesday 14th January the Committee took the opportunity to make an award to its longest serving member. Jim Calder joined the Association in 1968 and he has been a Committee member for over 25 years with particular responsibility for the harbour area. He is to retire effectively from the date of our February AGM. To mark the occasion and honour his contribution to the Association, he was presented with a decanter and six glasses.   

Fur And Feather Show - Another Successful Day
There was a good entry at the Fur and Feather Show in Wick on Saturday.  there were over 200 entries in the Pigeon sections alone.  Plenty of colour in the other caged birds sections and an interesting budgie half green and half blue.

Caithness Whispers - Items Mentioning Caithness Found On The Web
We get masses of information flowing into the web site and could not possible put all of it up on our pages.  However we thought you might be interested in some of the constant chatter on all sorts of topics where Caithness is mentioned.    In Caithness Whi8spers we will add links to a little of what comes our way that you might find interesting or amusing.   

Telford Street, Wick - Details Being Added 

Highland Coaching Conference 27 & 28 February
Gael Force Ten have organised this conference which is split into sections so you can choose to attend parts or all of the days.  Full details are in the brochure that can be downloaded from their temporary web page.  If you are involved or interested in coaching take a look at what is on offer.

E-petition At Scottish Parliament For Broadband
Alan Kennedy has raised an e-petition on the Scottish Parliament web site.  If you agree that the whole of Scotland should get Broadband then get on over and sign it.

Thurso Football Club - Make Or Break Game On Saturday At Alness
Thurso F.C's next game is an important away trip to Alness United this Saturday in an afternoon which will go a long way to deciding the way the title goes because along with Alness (3rd) V Thurso, there will also be Balintore (2nd) V Golspie Sutherland (1st).

Vanishing Point - Studies Of Sea And Sky
Canadian Artist Monique Sliedrecht who has lived at Freswick for the past couple of years is mounting another exhibition - this time in Wick.  The exhibition will be in Bridge Street church, Wick and opens tonight 7.00 - 9.00pm.  It will then run for two days on Saturday and Monday 10.00am - 5.30pm

Health Motion - Debate In Scottish Parliament - Thursday 15 January 5.10pm
The Scottish Parliament debated a motion concerning health services in the West Highlands and Caithness was mentioned in the course of the debate due to the similar issues involved. The full transcript of the debate is reproduced here for anyone interested in reading what was said by the MSP's  

News Site to Look At Setting Up Scottish Section After Contact is a news web site with thousands of newfeeds and is in Beta at the moment.  We had a quick look today and noticed there was no listing for Scotland in the listings.  We got in touch and they have already agreed to look at putting one in for Scotland once they get to grips with everything following the testing of the new site.  All you newshounds might want to add it to your favourites to see how it develops.  We are adding a few links in our news feeds sections. 

Some Great Views Wind Up Section Eight
As is often the case some of the best are last and we wind up the latest section of the biodiversity collection with great pictures of farm views and the last page with views of and from the highest points in the county.  If you have never been to the top of Morven or the surrounding hills then it is well worth the effort especially on days like these pictures were taken.  If anyone intends to tackle these area remember they are remote even in Caithness and take the correct gear for cold weather no matter when you go.

For the seventh year in a row The Highland Council has achieved continuous improvement in its In-Year Collection Rate for Council Tax. In 2002/2003, the Council collected 92.6%, or £62.4 million. This was above the Scottish average of 91.5%. For all years from 1996 to 2003, the Council has achieved an overall collection rate so far of 95.1%. The Scottish average was 93.7%.   

More Old Caithness Postcards
More postcards showing Caithness nearly a hundred years ago from Maureen Materi's collection in Canada.

English Postcards Section Begins
These postcards all have one thing in common  - they are all connected with the Miller family many of whom left Caithness to live in Canada.  The family members travelled a great deal and sent many postcards back and forth.  More yet to come of Caithness, Canada, England.

Drama Groups Gearing Up For Festivals
The SCDA Caithness District Festival will be held on 27 and 28 February 2004 at 7.30 pm.  Each evening there will be one play produced by Thurso Players and one by Wick Players.  The Youth Festival will be held on 8 March 2004 at 7 pm. The 2 plays will be produced by 2 Junior members of Thurso Players. Tickets can again be bought from Poltney News and McBeaths the Jewellers.

The Colours Of Caithness
The county of Caithness can be very colourful at different times of the year and certainly these next few pictures show that to good effect.

Latest Listing Of Wind Farms Developments In Highland
Several changes have taken place since the last list was posted in July 2003. There have been some refusals of planning permission and new schemes coming forward. Although this section has not covered the topic in detail it may be well to point out that in addition to wind power there are several new hydro schemes already approved and more at various stages.  None of these are in Caithness and only one is in Assynt, Sutherland

Mainly Plants In Next Biodiversity Set
We are awaiting the titles for the pictures and will add these as soon as they come in.  Meantime work goes on to complete the collection.

New Emergency Dental Service for Caithness
NHS Highland’s has secured approval from the Scottish Executive's Health Department for its proposals to establish a Caithness Emergency Dental Service.   A spokesman said today:  “We are delighted that the Scottish Executive has agreed to this proposal. The Caithness Emergency Dental Service (EDS) will be operational by the 26th January 2004. It will have the capacity for a total of 12 patients per day from Mondays to Fridays. This service will be provided by a dentist in Thurso and a dentist in Wick.

A Skirza Garden Starts This Page
A quick tour of the county and the seasons in this next selection of Caithness pictures continuing the Caithness biodiversity Collection.

First Minister Jack McConnell To Answer Questions From The Public Live Online
The First Minister will be answering questions live online between 1pm and 2pm on Wednesday, January 14.  Questions can be posted at anytime from 8am on Wednesday morning until the end of the interview at 2pm.  Questions and answers may appear on the Scottish Executive web site after the session is finished.  This is s one off but may be repeated  Scroll down the page at the Questions and answer page to see what questions were asked on 14 January.

Caithness Birdlife Show Continues In the Biodiversity Collection
This section really is beginning to show the amazing wildlife all around us in Caithness.  This section will be the largest yet in the collection and with 90 pictures we are not even half way.

Nuclear Dumping Question Gets Politicians Going
An article in the Northern Times last week has sparked a round of argument and comment amongst politicians at national and local level, Comments by John Thurso alluding to Greenpeace activist as scare-mongering have now brought comment from MSP Rob Gibson and a reiteration of SNP policy.  Getting in on the act are Jamie Stone and local councillor for Golspie & Rogart Ian Ross as questions again arise about sites proposed in the 1970's at Strathy, Altnabreac, the Ben Armine area, Rogart, Shin Forest, Scourie, and Loch Laxford to Enard Bay.

More Caithness Weather Pictures
Pictures continue to flow in from the recent cold snap in Caithness.  A few more have been sent in by Phil Rawlins who has even more on his own web site linked from the pictures shown here.

Sutherland Views
Lee Kempton has sent in a few views of Sutherland to add to our growing section.

The View From Above As Lybster Takes Down The Christmas Decorations
Marshall Bowman has sent in a few pictures taken from the platform used to help take down the Christmas decorations in Main Street, Lybster on Sunday.

Scottish Socialists Call For Councillors To Resign From Health Posts
The Scottish Socialist Party is calling on Highland councillors to follow the example of council Convenor Alison Magee and resign their consultative positions on the Health Trusts Quangos, and begin the process to democratise the new unitary authority.  These include David Alston (Black Isle North) and Garry Coutts (Beauly & Strathglass)   Councillor Gary Coutts has commented on the different positions of himself and Councillor David Alston compared to the convenor Alison Magee.

Thrumster 1947 - 48 Names
Margaret Menzies nee Bremner who is in the photograph has sent in a list of almost all the names.  The photograph was sent in by Gordon Miller in Vancouver a few weeks ago.

More Birds In This Section Of Pictures
Caithness has a great diversity of bird-life as the Biodiversity Collection is beginning to show so well.  with many different habitats inland and on the coast as well as being a stop-over for many migrating birds the county plays host several rare birds as well as large colonies of many more common seabirds.   Many more to come.

Alison Magee Highland Council Convenor Resigns From Highland Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
Alison Magee convenor of Highland council has resigned from the post she also held on the Highland Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.  Mrs Magee said that in view of the council stance on retaining services in the Highlands and the current reviews into services such as Maternity going on there was a potential conflict of interests.   Mrs Magee has been widely praised for her decision in advance of Professor Calder and his team publishing the report into Maternity services.  Meantime more people are continuing to write letters supporting the retention of consultant led services around the Highlands.

Poetry And Music Afternoon Sees New Band "Harvest"
Scotia Review the local Caithness literary group held an afternoon of poetry and music on Saturday in Wick featuring Orkney poet Fiona MacInnes and a new band "Harvest".  Supporting performers included poetry from George Gunn director of Grey Coast Theatre, Johnny MacLeod, poet, Tom Bryan and David Morrison.

More Wild Places From The Biodiversity Collection

Dolphins And Whales In The Biodiversity Collection

SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands Rob Gibson has warned the Scottish Executive that Highlanders who can’t find suitable housing may be forced to leave the area.  Speaking in the debate on improving Scotland’s housing in Parliament on Thursday 8th January Mr Gibson said - “In the Highlands affordable, warm and available housing can make the difference between families and single persons staying to contribute to community life and our local economy or emigrating”

Norlin Playgroup Sends Thanks After Successful Bag Packing Fundraiser
Norlin Playgroup secretary sends thank to all the contributors to their hgihgly successful bag packing Christmas Fundraiser.  The group bag-packed in the Wick Co-op on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th December, we are delighted to announce that raised a whopping £454.64. Julia Budge, Secretary sends sincere thanks to all the Staff and Customers of the Co-op.

So You Want To Know How To Build A Peat Stack?  Well Check this Out
Compliments of our friends in the Western Isles

Land and Sea  - Man And Nature - Biodiversity Collection Continues
More plants, birds and animals with a couple of shots of water sports and a wind turbine showing one of the changes that is happening in the Highlands.

New Volunteering Opportunities FREE ADS Section
Here is a way for all voluntary groups to let potential volunteers find out about opportunities for voluntary work in Caithness.   Any group can place ads in the new section and its FREE.  Any group interested can contact us to be set up to post ads in the new section.  Once set up a group can post ads for as many ads for vacancies or opportunities for volunteers as required anytime.  Ads will remain in the section for 30 days when they will automatically disappear or they can be renewed by the group adding something to the ad to make it remain for another 30 days or it can be removed anytime.

Economics of Renewable Energy
A report by IPA Energy Consulting, in association with Brodies, has been commissioned by Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar and The Highland Council, to provide the two councils with an economic evaluation of a range of alternative renewable energy developments – onshore wind, offshore wind, hydro electric and wave/tidal technologies. It is designed to provide the councils with an understanding of the potential financial value of such projects

Crofters Commission Turns Down Wind Farm Developer
Charles Sutherland has had an application to decroft land at Shebster turned down by the Crofters Commission.  Mr Sutherland who runs a garage business in Reay wants to build 25 wind-turbines on rough land.

Gaelic plays a central role in creating the special identify of the Highland area but for the language and culture to prosper Gaelic must be given legal status on a par with English and must be adequately funded.
This is the view of The Highland Council, who welcome the Scottish Executive's consultation on the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Bill. In its response to the consultation, the Council states: "Gaelic - one of the world's most ancient languages - should be recognised in statute as a national and official language of Scotland.

Do you enjoy the outdoors & have a spare hour or two?  Join the CCV & take part in environmental projects around Caithness. From habitat enhancement schemes to improving countryside facilities - there may be something which interests you.  To find out what the group is about, why not come along to our friendly & informal meeting?  Everyone Welcome

Any Caithness Groups Got Projects Ready To Go?
Potential applicants in Scotland can take part in a pilot scheme to shorten assessment times, boost success rates and reduce disappointment. Applicants (for the moment in Scotland only) are asked to send in a short Outline proposal form giving us some information about the project they would like us to fund.

Two public meetings are being held later this month in the Highlands to explain the health and safety reasons for the decision to pre-distribute stable iodine tablets to occupied premises within a two kilometre radius of the Ministry of Defence nuclear submarine moorings in Loch Ewe, West Ross, and Broadford Bay, Skye. The pre-distribution of tablets has already been introduced near the nuclear establishment RNTE Vulcan on the Dounreay site in Caithness.

Devoted To Life - Can You Spare Two Hours
Spring is just around the corner and with it brings the golden bloom of daffodils and the annual Marie Curie Cancer Care Daffodil Campaign!.  Marie Curie Cancer Care has over 80 nurses providing care for patients who are seriously ill with cancer, enabling them the ability to remain in the comfort and familiarity of their own home. These specialist nurses also offer invaluable practical and emotional support to the patient’s family.

More Pictures Showing Caithness In The Wild
The range and diversity of places, plants and wildlife is beginning to be seen in all its glory as we continue with this biodiversity tour which will ultimately we think be one of the largest single photo collections on Caithness on the net.  Still a long way to go before all of the photographs have been added.

Basketball Level 1 Coaching Award
This course is for the beginner basketball coach that is looking to develop their coaching skills.  Sat/Sun 17th & 18th January 2004 - Wick High School.

On Friday 30th January, at the Portland Arms Hotel, Lybster, Caithness, from 9.00am until 4.00pm  The Local Economic forum for Caithness and Sutherland has identified the lack of available good quality affordable housing as a major constraint to development. To help remedy this problem members of the Forum decided to organise a Seminar for the wider Community to consider options.  All interested parties, whether community housing association or groups, professional architects, builders or private developers as well as those with an interest in the latest low cost technologies for energy efficient housing for their own use, are invited to this Seminar with national and international speakers.

Boats And Birds In the Biodiversity Collection
Diversity is certainly being shown in this amazing collection of photographs.   Check this male Hen Harrier flying back home with his latest catch.  And where could you find a better backdrop to try your fishing skills in some of the best lochs in Scotland.

Biodiversity Collection Continues
Another set of pictures begins.  This batch from Ken Crossan have some superb pictures showing fine details of plants and insects   Look really closely at the camouflage of the Brindled Beauty Larva.  More soon.

Selling Property In 2004? - Then Get your Ad On Our Pages - Still Only £20 - No Time Limit
Wherever else you advertise your property we think our ads are amongst the best value you can get.  With a one time payment of £20 for the ad and one photograph or £25 for up to four photos your ad will stay on as long as it takes to sell the property and no repeat fees.

Northern Constabulary's festive drink drive figures are up on last years figures by 50%, however positive public feedback is the reason for the rise.   Last year 271 people were breathalysed with 62 people positive however of the 349 people breathalysed this year, 95 people proved to be over the limit.  The figures show that male drivers are still the highest with 86 men detected drinking and driving compared with last year's figure of 55 men being caught.  Nine women have been detected during the 3 week campaign compared to 7 females in 2002/3.

Community Benefit Leaflet  - Will Your Community Benefit From Alternative Energy?
Highland council has produce a new leaflet packed with information on how communities might benefit from alternative energy schemes in their area.   The leaflet has explanations about potential schemes and how they might operate as well as lots of useful information and contacts on the topic.  the link to the leaflet is in out wind farm section.

Education Culture & Sport
A new section drawing together the many aspects of sport, culture and leisure activities organised by Highland Council in Caithness and Sutherland.  Over coming months events and activities set up by the department will be linked via this section.  Main contact telephone numbers are already entered on the index page.  The first announcement is for the Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2004 below.

Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2004
A writing competition with money prizes has been announced by Education Culture and Sport department of Highland Council.  Arts Officer Tom Bryan will co-ordinate the competition and all entries should be sent to him by post or email.   Potential entrants should read the rules carefully.  Primary and Secondary school children from Highland only may enter.  Adults resident anywhere in Scotland of any nationality are eligible to enter and they may be in Scotland residing , studying or working.

A High Life Card - Gets You Fit and Saves You Money
2004 is here and you may be thinking about getting fit - again!!  Exercise can be fun and with a High Life card you can get access to all of the Highland council Swimming Pools, Fitness Rooms and more.   For individuals and families there are great savings to be made on normal entrance charges.  So have some fun and get back to fitness with a swim or workout at your own pace.

Around Lybster Harbour In The Snow
Jimmy Taylor has sent in these pictures from Lybster Harbour.  The one of Reisgill burn contrasts vividly with the one we put on a few days ago from the Caithness Biodiversity Collection taken in the summer.  Compare the snowy one with the picture by Clicking Here

And Over In Thurso
Yes it was cold all over and these pictures from Lorna Mascall prove that Thurso did not miss out on the snow.  Not quite finished yet with the snowy scenes and Lybster Harbour will be next.

Banniskirk - Spectacular In The Recent Cold Weather
Diane Clark has sent in this picture taken in the recent cold weather that hit Caithness and the Highlands.

Selling Or Buying Cars - Could Not Be Easier In 2004
Whether you are buying or selling cars in the north it is easy on our message board and best of all it's still FREE in 2004.

Young Culture Vultures Encouraged To Enter Website Competition
Primary 4 to 7 children in the Highland Council area are being invited by Highland Libraries to take part in the Am Baile Children's Competition.  The competition consists of 10 questions and has been designed to encourage children to find out more about the Scottish Highlands and Islands and what has gone on in its past. All the answers can be found in the Am Baile website which can be accessed at, and up to 18 lucky winners will receive a £10 book token each.

Final Tribute For Alex Steven
A final tribute was paid to Alex Steven whose funeral took place in Wick on Saturday 3 January.  Some of the trucks from the firm D Steven and son were lined up at Wick harbour for the funeral procession which went via the harbour where Mr Steven had operated the firm his father had started for many years.   The business has been run by his sons for several years.

Broadband Numbers Still Increasing
Will more areas in Caithness reach the trigger figures for Broadband in 2004?   By 23 December Wick stood at 368 showing that there are still folk deciding to register their interest.  Perhaps new computer owners will also add their names shortly to the growing list.

What's On In 2004
There are already over 130 events entered in the what's On for 2004.  Wick Gala, talks, walks, musical dates and much more.  If you are running a n event in Caithness why not get it advertised a long time in advance to ensure everyone knows about and make sure it is a success.  Not only can you benefit from advertising for months on end but your event will automatically hit our front page at midnight on the day as a final reminder to everyone in case they forgot.   We are expecting 2004 to have double the number of events entered as it is so easy and best of all it is still FREE.  Get your Caithness event in soon and let everyone know about it.

Morven And Scaraben From Watten
Another picture for our recent snow gallery.  This one from Shona Brown looking over to Morven and the Scarabens from the top of Watten just round the corner from the cemetery.   Although 30th December was a snowy day the following days were extremely cold with temperatures very low including Halkirk where reports suggest minus 11°C