First Stroma Bus Tour 1950

An information day is being held in Inverness on Friday 4th February, which aims to attract people into, and further develop the careers of those already in, Social Work employment in the Highlands.  People who are already working in social work are invited to attend and those with relevant degrees in psychology or social services who may have taken a career break to raise families or might consider re-training in social work are welcome. Anyone interested can drop in at Hedgefield Management Centre, Culduthel Road in Inverness, at any time between 11am to 2pm on Friday 4th February.

Scots NHS dentistry about to 'collapse'  - Scotsman

Young Male Cat Needs New Home - Can You Give Him One
He is a young cat who we have just neutered and he is so friendly and just wants attention.  Contact Cats Protection in Caithness if you can offer a home for him.



Fire Action Group Questions Statements In The Review
Group Asks Public To Make Representation On the Consultation Very Soon
In the near future if the Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade get their way there is the possibility of loss of properties and fatalities occurring in a village in Caithness because of the ridiculous decision to downgrade the local fire unit.  Lybster Fire crew have been informed that their services in attending house and property fires are no longer needed due to an Integrated Risk Management Plan which is due to come into effect on the 31st March.

Geese Visit

Oddly we note from an earlier web page that geese visited us on 28 January 2003.  Have they got it in their diary to give us a call every two years.  It will be interesting to see if they call round next year at the same time or leave it until 2007.  Without the web page we would not have noticed the almost two years to the day gap.

Calling Highland Craft Makers - Exhibition Opportunity
Craft makers are wanted to participate in an exhibition, particularly in jewellery, basket making, casting (metal, glass) and stone.  Fees will be paid for successful applicants to supply material for the exhibition and for a handling exhibition but possibly the most significant part will be the unwritten possibilities of at least a year of publicity as the exhibition moves around, newspaper and web coverage etc.  Application deadline 14 February.  Sponsored by Highland Council and The Scottish Arts Council.

Caithness Cultural Trust  - A Ceilidh Sponsored By "Old Pulteney"
A ceilidh in Mackays Hotel, Wick at 7.30pm  - 11.30pm on Friday 4th February.  Local Bands, singers, dancing, poetry and more.  Part of the proceeds will go to eh Tsunami DEC Fund.  Tickets £7  Contact K Spruce, Secretary, for tickets tel 01955 604068

Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed the constructive and collaborative approach of the participants in the Responsible Deer Management consultation where the aim is to produce a framework on how to deal with Scotland's burgeoning deer population. Following the passage of the Nature conservation Act last summer Mr Gibson who has worked closely with Non-Governmental Organizations, responsible estate owners and with colleagues in the Environment and Rural Development Committee in this consultation says that real and sustainable progress is being made..


At the Planning, Development, Europe and Tourism Committee, members selected a small group of Councillors who, working closely with officers and outside organisations, will draft a comprehensive renewable energy strategy which could see the Highlands becoming a world class renewable centre of excellence. The draft will be subject to full discussion and hopefully agreed at Committee in August 2005.

The Highland Council is to seek support from the Scottish Executive to repair storm and flood damage to property, roads, bridges, car parks and harbours caused by the severe weather experienced on 11/12 January.  The Council is required to meet the first £500,000 of the repair bill but, once a full assessment is made of the damage, it will apply to the Scottish Executive for 85% funding towards the cost of emergency repairs.  Members of the Transport Environmental and Community Services were told that the storm damage was extensive, especially in the West Highlands, most notably in Skye and Lochalsh, Wester Ross and Lochaber. Flooding occurred at Caol, Inverness and Thurso, while there was damage to harbours at Gairloch, Kinlochbervie and Uig.

Fudge - A Fluffy Ball That Likes To Sleep

Message Board Suggestion Leads To Top Band Coming To Caithness - Blues N Trouble
The message board suggestion to have a great band come to Caithness seems to have paid off and posters are enthusiastically awaiting the arrival at Skinandis in Thurso of Blues N Trouble on 19 March. The band have many albums behind them and Indie chart success.  they have been in Caithness before but not for many years.  The return looks like being a huge success as their reputation has built massively since they last played the county.

Thrumster Pupils Send Help To Tsunami Victims
Thrumster Primary School and Nursery have gathered toiletries and other items which will be passed to Blythswood who will arrange for these items to be forwarded to the victims of the Tsunami disaster. Pupils also collected some money to help with the transport costs. Pupils would like to thank everyone for their support.


E Caithness Cooncillors Agenda For 31 January In Thurso Town Hall
In addition to the regular monitoring and financial reports councillors will look at the Highland 2007 Year Of Culture opportunities for local groups to obtain additional funding for events. Other agenda items include a possible new bylaw to prohibit drinking alcohol in public places in Wick and Thurso, agreeing next years grants to certain voluntary organisations, new funding arrrangements for the Longberry Centre that supplies services for people with Alzheimers, Update on the Thurso Town Hall - Caithness Horizons project.

Fire Action Group - Latheron Lybster And Clyth - Fighting Another Rural Downgrading
This sub group of the community council has been looking at the problem of the potential downgrading of the Lybster Fire Unit.  Since December 2003 the Lybster fire Unit along with others in Highlands & Islands area has been under review.  An Integrated Risk Management Strategy has been published.  Responses from the public are asked for by 13 February 2005.  However the local community feel that after two years this deadline is far too soon to give people time to respond.  Even though after this lengthy period of time and much debate between the local Lybster fire unit and Highlands and Islands Fire Master and the Fire Brigade committee it has recommended that the Lybster unit should only be allowed to attend heath fires and road accidents.   Members of the group feel that the areas householders will be put at risk waiting on a fire tender from Wick or Dunbeath and property put at risk from small fires they might have been able to deal with more quickly.  The issue surrounds the cost of Breathing Apparatus and annual training now required for units and smaller units may not be allocated funding for this.  A new section on the web site will run for the Fire Action Group to follow what happens.  the group want to encourage the public to make responses to the consultation and are requesting an extension saying it is all too rushed after nearly two years of deliberations to expect the public to do so by 13 February.  They have contact MPs and MSP's over the matter.

Highland Councillors have decided not to bid for the contract for the management and maintenance of the North West Trunk Road Network, which is being renewed by the Scottish Executive in April next year.  Members of the Transport Environmental and Community Services Committee concluded that the Council ran too high a risk of making a significant annual loss on the five-year contract and that they should instead seek sub-contracting work from the successful consortium.
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Maureen Macmillan has written to Transport Minister Nicol Stephen over the contract for trunk road maintenance and winter road clearance, which is due to go out for tender in April, 2006.  Mrs Macmillan commented, "Since taking over trunk road maintenance in 2001 the operations of BEAR Scotland in the Highlands has attracted repeated criticism, regarding both the quality of winter road clearance and summer maintenance of verges and roundabouts.

Caithness Based Writers Publish New Book For Tsunami Aid
Caithness writers have combined to have published a wee book called "The Ballad of Hercules Mackenzie and other Stories" which is selling for £3 will all profits going to the Tsunami Disaster Fund. The group though small is very successful and most of the contributors are either published and/or competition winners. The content of the booklet is mostly very light with a great deal of humour and we are getting very positive feedback from purchasers so readers can have a delightful read and help a very worthy cause. There is a foreword by John Thurso.

Highland Included In Rural Priority Areas List
Twenty parts of Scotland have been designated Rural Services Priority Areas (RSPA) after the identification of disadvantage in service provision, access to services and subsequently opportunities.  The status will enable government, local authorities and other agencies to focus improvements in services in the most disadvantaged rural communities, aiming to find innovative solutions to providing, for example, health care, training or childcare services.

New Procurator Fiscal And Depute Start On Monday 31 January In Wick
Mr Alasdair MacDonald has been appointed by the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC to the post of Procurator Fiscal for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. Mr MacDonald will take up his post on the 31 January 2005.  Mr MacDonald will retain his commission for Tain and Dornoch where he is currently District Procurator Fiscal and will be supported at Wick by a newly appointed Depute Fiscal, Mrs Christine Ball, who will also take up post on 31 January 2005.

'Ask Jack' Event In The Highlands
First Minister Jack McConnell will answer questions from Highland school pupils on Monday at a special session to be streamed live on the Internet.  A link to the live broadcast between 2pm and 3.15pm will appear on the Scottish Executive website on the day.  No Caithness schools this time around.

Helping Square A Debt - Charity Slave Raises Amazing Amount In A Few Hours
The 2003 festive season is one UKAEA, Dounreay employee, Ishbel Mcdonald, will not forget.  After a series of tests it was confirmed that she was suffering from lung cancer.  “However I was told it was treatable provided I had my left lung removed,” said non-smoker Ishbel.  “It was a big decision to take, but because I had always kept myself fit, I had to go for it.”  In the event the operation was a complete success, Ishbel received the all-clear, and is now back hale and hearty processing accounts in UKAEA’s finance department in Naver House, Thurso. 

Faith groups launch new guide booklet
A new booklet has been launched with the aim of helping people become involved in volunteering in the Scottish criminal justice system.  Many people in faith communities and wider society are very concerned about how to best respond to crime today. They want to know how they can contribute to preventing crime, reducing re-offending, supporting and caring for victims, and promoting safer communities. Significant numbers of people already offer help by giving their time and talent as volunteers in helping people affected by crime, through Victim Support or the Children's Hearing System, for example.

A part-time 20mph speed limit around a Caithness school went into operation this week (Monday 24th January) at Mount Pleasant Primary in Thurso.  With the help of £2.157M funding from the Scottish Executive, The Highland Council aims to get the message across that slowing down near schools saves lives and that reducing the speed limit to 20 mph outside schools significantly improves the safety of children walking or cycling to school.  Mount Pleasant Primary School is one of five schools in Highland that is benefiting from the introduction of part time speed limit signs this January and February....

Mount Pleasant School Newsletter
The latest Mount Pleasant School Newsletter is now available on this web site and on the school web site at   Packed with information for parents and children the newsletter also tells everyone that the school children are to take part in the Highland Big Heart Day raising funds for the Tsunami disaster.

The time is now ripe for local communities to seize the opportunity to develop their own wind farms. That was the message given at a conference yesterday organised by the Scottish Parliament's Renewable Energy Group.  The conference, called "Community Led Renewable Energy Schemes", was organised by the Scottish Parliament Renewable Energy Group (SPREG). Message Board Breaking Records Of Its Own
On Tuesday 25 January at one point there were 83 users online at the same time.  The recent surge on the Message Board is also reflected in the leap in visitors to the web site in January and it looks like all previous records are going to be consigned to history with visitor numbers already past 118,000 and the hit rate over 8 million for the month to 25th January.

Pupils at Hilhead Primary School, Wick have been signing up to help raise funds for Tsunami survivors. A huge wall map of South Asia has been hung up in the school hall. It has been drawn up in to more than 1000 squares and pupils and staff pay 20p to write their name or something else in the square. As well as their own names, nick names, the names of pets and football teams have all been popular choices with the pupils. With a thousand squares, there are plenty to go round. Anyone wishing to sponsor a few squares at 20p per square can do so by contacting the school on 01955 603233.

Berriedale Circa 1910
Karen Grant sent in this picture from Canada and says "I believe that this was sent by Barbara Campbell (nee Sutherland) Christie to her sister Jessie Sutherland (later Ramsay) In Winnipeg. Barbara Sutherland was married in Canada to Bert Christie in 1908, she returned to Clyne, SU and her husband died just a month before her son was born."


Highlands and Islands Enterprise Strategy Review 2005 - Have Your Say
Highlands and Island Enterprise are inviting anyone who has views on the direction for the Highland and Islands economy to have say.  On the new consultation section you will find documents and a form to complete.

Tony Blair Meets Right To Swim Campaigner Promising To Look Closer
The Caithness campaign to get access to swimming pools for parents and toddlers and have the regulations changed back may have died down but in other places the campaigns are still running.  A recent edition of the Kent Messenger shows campaigning mum Carolyn Warner taking her case to Tony Blair who has promised to look at the matter.
New rules on the ages and numbers of adults required for young children were introduced into Caithness in 2000.  The local campaign failed to get the rules changed back.  But perhaps it will be looked at again.

Upgrading Wick - New Pipes At Francis Street
Not exciting but a very necessary upgrade to the pipe system in Wick is underway.  Depending on you point of view the fact that the road is not having to be dug up from end to end to achieve it is interesting.  the method is to push a plastic sleeve through existing pipes and then pour boiling water through for three hours until the plastic solidifies.  Ingenious and fast!!!  More streets to come in coming months so look out for more temporary traffic lights as the work proceeds.  And they are on their way to Thurso shortly for some upgrading there also.

Upgrading Wick - Bank Row Gets A New Flagstone Pavement
Meanwhile at the other side of the harbour Bank Row is having its pavement relaid with Caithness flagstone.  the tar pavement has disappeared and will soon have a pavement covered in the material that was removed many years ago.  Caithness flag is much more in keeping with the character of the area and it will run right up to the Blackstairs and down to the harbour.

Upgrading Wick - Shore Road Work To Begin Soon
Work is due to start on Shore Road shortly to fix the problems along the waters edge and the road.  This area has been crumbling under the onslaught of the sea over the past few years.  Highland Council are to pay to have the work done even though the ground does not belong to it.  Apart from the eyesore it has become it will make this road look much better.


Upgrading Wick - Widening Shore Lane
Shore Lane has always been a bit of nightmare in the days of the car.  The project underway now will widen the road by a few feet making it much safer and easier to get up and down.  The garden of a house was shortened last year and the wall built round the old well discovered in the process.


Karen Shirron  - SNP Candidate Selected
Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross SNP Constituency Association have recently selected their candidate to fight the forthcoming Westminster election will be Karen Shirron.  The announcement was made in Helmsdale.  Karen Shirron is currently a local councillor with Aberdeen City Council where she is the SNP Deputy Group Leader and a Parliamentary Assistant to Brian Adam, SNP MSP for Aberdeen North. First elected to the Council in 1999 with a majority of 7, she was re-elected in 2003 with a majority of 336.
2005 Westminster Election

Hillhead Primary School, Wick - Newsletter Now Publishing On The Web Site
Hillhead school newsletter begins publishing on today joining Pulteneytown and South Schools.  If any other Caithness schools would like to have a section for their newsletter just get in touch and we will set it all up.

Report claims neglect in rural healthcare - Grampian TV

Thurso Lifeboat Bringing In Rafts From The Ferry "Hamnavoe"
Thurso lifeboat crew yesterday carried out an unusual mission in the Pentland Firth. They were called out to recover four liferafts which were washed off the deck of the Northlink ferry Hamnavoe during its early afternoon crossing from Scrabster to Stromness. Ferry skipper Bob Johnston reported the loss of the rescue craft, which posed a potential shipping hazard. The lifeboatmen found the four rafts - fully inflated
and each capable of taking 100 people - floating in the sea off Dunnet Head. They towed them back to Scrabster, from where they will be returned to the ferry company. 
Thurso Lifeboat

Thurso British Legion Tsunami Bingo Night Was an Overwhelming Success
Thurso British Legion would like to thank everyone who attended, contributed and helped the Prize Bingo evening on Friday 21st January at the club and helped raise £1622 to add to our previous Hogmanay raffle of £459 taking our fundraising up to £2081. The amount of people attending and the money raised surprised them and they are so chuffed that the local community care so much to come out on a cold winters night to help others less fortunate.
Coming Tsunami Events At Thurso British Legion
Still to come in the next couple of weeks to continue our fundraising towards assisting the victims of this disaster is our afternoon of Live Family Entertainment next Sunday the 30th January with Gary Weston between 3pm and 6pm - All Welcome
on Friday February the 4th our 60s,70s & 80s School Disco Revival takes place at the club 8pm onwards, tickets £5 are still available from the club All Welcome.
The ongoing raffle for 2 tickets to Bryan Adams, Microwave Oven, Leather Jacket, Lunch Voucher, DVD Player, NNCMC Tickets plus various other prizes will be drawn at it (Tickets still available) and it is hoped to announce a final total for our fundraising before the end of the evening.
For further information contact us on Tel: 01847 893377 or 893417 or call Graeme on 892520 or visit us at  or email

Pentland Canoe Club And Caithness Kayak Club Coaches On Coaching Weekend
Coaches from the Pentland Canoe Club and Caithness Kayak Club joined others from across Scotland to attend a Coaching Processes Course in Speyside. The course was delivered by Gordon Brown and Jas Hepburn, both highly respected coaches in the sport. The weekend was aimed at developing coaching styles and a variety of skills. Top coaching tips were also given along with an insight into the psychology of coaching. Attendance at the course was supported by the Caithness Sports Council through the RWE NUKEM Coaching Grant.
Pentland Canoe Club  Caithness Kayak Club

Wick Harbour Solar Roof Gets Mention On Welsh National Web Site
SolarGen keeps harbour lights shining
A SOUTH WALES company has taken its solar power technology to the Highlands of Scotland.  Cwmbran-based SolarGen has completed a major solar power scheme at Wick, near John o'Groats.  As part of the regeneration of Wick Harbour a solar power generator has been installed on the roof of the Fish Market building. The £140,000 demonstration scheme is producing enough power to light the entire harbour area and half-a-dozen homes.  Opening Of Wick Harbour Solar Roof

Caithness Walking Festival Ready To Go 14 - 22 May
The second Caithness Waling Festival have their calendar of events on the web now.

Is This The Biggest Digital Panoramic Photo In The World?
Jus something sent to us to have look at and we thought others might like look at it.  You can zoom a long way into this highly detailed 2.5 billion pixel photo.  The photo is from TNO TPD and is part of the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO, the largest independent research institute in the Netherlands.  If anyone feels like donating a camera that can do this to us at then get in touch - some hope unless you have an extremely large chegue book.  Well done to the people who produced the technology for this type of photo.

Are You Planning Your Summer Holidays?  Then Come To Caithness
What is there to see and do in Caithness?  Well where do you start looking.  Here are three sections on this web site that we think might help you decide - Caithness Biodiversity Photo Collection covering the landscape and it flora and fauna, Caithness Castles showing just one aspect of the hugely varied history all around the landscape of the county including literally hundreds of sites with standing stones, brochs and ancient cairns and the A - Z of Caithness an ever growing section with thousands of pictures of every part of Caithness.  There are many other sections with photos and information but if you have never visited before we think these three sections will give you many hours of exploration before you reach our county.  Holidays in Caithness are seldom about lying on the beach  - they are about visits, walking along the striking coastline and checking out the history of the of past two thousand years and earlier - they are about meeting local people or attending some events in the summer period.  Check out the local pub scene with music of various types from rock and jazz to traditional Celtic or visit the Wick Pipe Band summer show for a flavour of Scottish music with pipes, dance bands, Highland dancing and singers.  Thurso is one of the top places with surfers these days and increasingly used for competitions.  Lessons are available locally if you are into sporting activites.

Pulteneytown Academy School Newsletter
The latest newsletter from Pulteneytown Academy including a special class newsletter giving parents details of exactly what each class will be covering  on the curriculum at school this term and a good guide as to what children in Highland schools are learning this term.  Also included this week are details of the new menu being introduced into the school from 24 January.  A reminder is also included regarding the Caithness Music Festival in case parents wish children to enter the individual poetry events.

The Highland Council is organising a Highland-wide day of school fundraising for the Tsunami Disaster Appeal - and is inviting other Council employees and local businesses to join them.  Wednesday 9th February has been designated as Big Heart Day Highland when every class in every school across the Highlands (220 schools) will be given the challenge of raising an average donation of £1 per pupil towards the Appeal.

council secures funding for caithness and sutherland women’s aid
A service to provide support and refuge for women affected by domestic abuse received a vital assurance of funding from The Highland Council’s Housing and Social Work Committee today. Caithness and Sutherland Women’s Aid currently provides an Outreach service giving support to women suffering from domestic abuse but it has also worked with the Highland Council and Pentland Housing Association to set up a refuge which can assist women with children and single women who become homeless as a result of domestic abuse. Today the service received an assurance of £127,000 funding from the Highland Council which will ensure that this vital service to the community can be established and the purpose built refuge opened for use.

Highland Council Library Service Launches 24 Hour Online Services
At The Highland Council’s Education, Culture and Sport Committee, today (Thurs 20th January, 2005), members saw a demonstration of the Highland Libraries on-line catalogue, which provides users with an internet-based interactive service 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Through the Council’s website , anyone can now access the Highland Libraries Catalogue and other sources such as the National Library of Scotland and the British Library.  People with current library cards can renew loans, request items and review their borrower accounts, as well as accessing a range of electronic reference materials, newspaper files and business information.  A number of schools including Wick and Thurso High schools have the online catalogue.

A total of 65 schools in the Highlands were damaged by last week’s storms. The Education Culture and Sport Committee was told today (Thursday) that the cost of repairs would be reported to the next meeting once a full audit of the damage had been completed.  Director of Education Culture and Sport, Bruce Robertson, showed committee member the destruction of the wooden pedestrian bridge and concrete supports which had cut off the two-pupil Canna Primary School from the main housing settlement, resulting in temporary relocation of the school to the island tea room.  Damage at Elgol Primary, Skye, which had demolished a retaining sea wall and eaten into the school garden was also shown to committee members.  Mallaig High School, which reopened on Wednesday, had suffered significant roof damage, including the loss of 300 slates.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority has given evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee of MPs to assist its inquiry into aspects of decommissioning the former experimental fast reactor establishment at Dounreay.  The committee is exploring the long-term employment prospects for staff involved in decommissioning the site and the long-term strategy for managing the radioactive wastes that arise from decommissioning. It is also examining future energy sources in Scotland.  In its written submission, UKAEA underlines its commitment to continued close working with organisations such as Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise, North Highland College UHI and Highland Council to identify opportunities for sustainable economic development.  In the short-term, this involves working together to maximise the economic benefits to the area from a decommissioning programme which accounts for one in five jobs locally and contributes an estimated £80 million to the local economy annually.

The funding of a long-awaited floodlit all weather pitch within the grounds of Wick High School was secured today (Thursday) following a plea by Caithness members attending The Highland Council's Education Culture and Sport Committee. Meeting in Inverness today (Thursday 20 January 2005), the Committee unanimously accepted the Caithness arguments for an additional allocation of £345,000 on top of the previously agreed £525,000 towards the cost of the project and allows work to start in the new financial year.  Caithness councillors were delighted at the outcome and are hopeful that work can start in the autumn.  Wick councillors Bill Fernie, Katrina McNab and Graeme Smith were joined by Councillor Roger Saxon in highlighting the importance of the project and the long and eager wait by Wick people for the new facility.

Skills Grants Available - Up To £750
People in Caithness and Sutherland who aren't working or who work part time and want to move into full time employment are being encouraged by Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) to take up an individual skills development grant.  CASE offers help, advice and funding - up to £750 a year depending on circumstances - to people who can't find work or who are working part-time and want to improve their job prospects. Funding support ranges from 25 per cent of costs for non certificated courses to 75 per cent of costs for certificated courses.  Donna Booth, a development manager with CASE, said: "Re-establishing workplace skills and knowledge is key to finding a job. At CASE, we recognise that if you have been out of the job market for some time, you need a hand to get going again. Our funding support for people preparing for work is flexible and takes account of individual circumstances."

HIE Launches Its Biggest Public Consultation
A HUGE public consultation exercise is being launched by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). Responses to the widest exercise of its kind in the 40-year history of the economic and community development agency and its predecessor, the Highlands and Islands Development Board, will help determine HIE's future activities.  The consultation is part of a detailed review by HIE of how, in an area with challenges and opportunities highly distinct from other parts of Scotland, it can best help deliver national economic priorities and pursue its unique community development role.

Caithness Editor Wins Feature Writer Award
Editor of the John O'Groat Journal/Caithness Courier, Alan Hendry, is Feature Writer of the Year. His reporter Ally McGilvray was highly commended in the Young Journalist of the Year category.

A Highland doctor is encouraging 13-25 year olds who have not been immunised against Mumps to attend their GP to be immunised. This advice comes as the numbers of cases of mumps are on the increase nationally, although the increases in the Highlands are not as high an increase as in Scotland as a whole.  Dr Geoff Cramp, Locum Consultant in Public Health, said: "In 2004 in the Highland Health Board area, there were 66 cases of Mumps notified to Public Health. 36 of these have been confirmed by laboratory testing and 30 are unconfirmed cases. This is in contrast to 2003 when there were 9 notified cases of mumps in Highland, only 2 of which were confirmed. There is therefore a 7.5-fold increase in the number of notified cases and an 18-fold increase in the number of confirmed cases in Highland. This is less than in Scotland as a whole where there has been an 19-fold increase in notified cases and a 35-fold increase in the number of confirmed cases."

Intrepid SSPCA Fund Raising Pair Go For Abseiling On the Way To Costa Rica
Mandy Purves and Ann Cormack raisng money for a trek in Trek Costa Rica For SSPCA funds will are organising a sponsored abseil.  You can take part to help them on their way.  check their page for details.

The Phone At Forss
Dawn Alderson has sent in this photos of the phone at Forss making a striking pictures in the snow.



Snow Time In Caithness
A couple of snow scenes to add to our Bishops Drive, Scrabster gallery.  Forecasts were for snow overnight and Caithness did not escape.  Temperatures plummeted on Tuesday and gritters were out all over the county.  Weather Links
48 Hour Forecast For Caithness

New Flats At Castle Gardens - Thurso Have Great Views

New Flats at Castle Gardens, Thurso are well under way and on schedule to have the show house ready in a few weeks.  The upper flats have terrific views of Thurso and even across to John O'Groats.  Even before they are ready to go on show interest in the homes which are spacious and built on split levels with balconies to take in that view has been very good.  Lower levels have less of a view and this will be reflected in the prices of the various properties.  The property is being built by D M Geddes Ltd

Dr M.M.A.F Keshta, MD, MRCOG, FRCS(Ed.), Diploma Of Endoscopic Surgery (France) and Diploma of Ultrasonography (UK) will take up the post of Locum Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Caithness General Hospital on Monday 31st January 2005. Dr Keshta, who has lived and practised Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the UK, Egypt and Saudi Arabia for 24 years, has taken up the post for a period of 8 months: "I have been working as an obstetrician & gynaecologist in different types of hospitals around the UK, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. My special interests include labour ward management, subfertility, endoscopic surgery and general gynaecology.  Because of my experience, I am looking forward to participate in providing good quality obstetric & gynaecological care in the Caithness area".

Caithness Ranger Issues Warning To Local Walkers Regarding Storm Damage To Footpaths
A warning has been issued from The Highland Council's Senior Ranger for Caithness Area, Mary Legg with the Council's Planning and Development Service to people accessing the coastal area of Dunnet Bay for walking and recreation.  Following an inspection of the area around Dunnet Bay, Mary Legg said: "Storms have played havoc with coastal paths and boardwalks in North Caithness. Dunnet Bay took the full force of the recent gales and high seas and three sections of boardwalks have been washed away. "There is still access to the beach from the right hand pathway from the carpark at the north end of the bay. The path east to Robbieshaven from John O'Groats is badly damaged as is a coastal section of the path at the Flagstone Heritage in Castletown.  The front of the Dunnet bay dune system has been severely battered and undercut by high tides and storm waves. This has made the front edge very unstable and prone to slumping. For reason of safety please avoid crossing these areas."

UKAEA Chooses Johnson Controls For Facilities Management Contract At Dounreay
UKAEA today announced it has selected Johnson Controls as preferred bidder for its facilities management contract at Dounreay following a competitive tendering exercise. The contract covers a wide range of site services to support the decommissioning programme, including building, roads and ground maintenance, catering, cleaning and laundry, transport and industrial waste disposal.  The existing facilities management contract, held by Johnson Controls, expires on March 31, 2005. The new contract is for five years, with scope for additional works and extensions.

Strong Air Passenger Growth to End of Third Quarter In Highland
The December passenger figures from Highlands and Islands Airports Limited show that 73,000 passengers used the company’s 10 airports in the month, a 7% increase on December 2003.  Total passengers at the end of the third quarter in the operating year 2004/05 stood at 802,013, a 10.4% increase on the first nine months of 2003/04.

Skills Grants
People in Caithness and Sutherland who aren't working or who work part time and want to move into full time employment are being encouraged by Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) to take up an individual skills development grant. CASE offers help, advice and funding - up to £750 a year dep...

The Highland Council has appointed Ian Hargrave as its new Area Manager for Caithness.  Mr Hargrave was appointed following interviews in Wick on Monday.  He began his career in his native Glasgow and worked in Falkirk as well as in Stranraer, where he was district housing officer with Wigtown District Council before being appointed The Highland Council's Housing Manager for Caithness in March 1996. He has been acting Area Manager for Caithness since October 2002.

Academy Football Team 1954
Picture sent in by Janette Webster (nee Coghill).  Janette's husband George Webster is in the photo. It was the first year they had won the cup from the North School for many a year.


Latheron School 1952 - 53
Another old school photo sent in by Adam Mc Donald.



New Voices: James Ross  - The Scotsman
James Ross from Wick has been making a name for himself in the Celtic music world in the last couple of years and once again he is hitting the headlines at the opening of Celtic Connections.  James who started his musical career playing the accordion is now making his name on the piano where he has put his own special Celtic touch to the instrument that often takes a back seat to the fiddle accordion or voice when Scottish tunes are concerned.  James has played in many places including the United States and his career continues to expand.

Sunday Papers Links
A handy list of the Sunday papers online in case you cannot get out to buy them.  You can find the link on the left hand side of this page

North School Football Team 1973 - 74
The latest pictures into our schooldays section is this North School football team from 1973 sent in by Arthur Robertson.
North School Schooldays Index   Schooldays Main Index



Some Mackay Family Photos
Three photos from a Mackay collection. One of a young couple. Can you help the sender confirm their identity.  The other two photos have some information but perhaps you know more about them and can help here also.  A new Mackay section has been set up to place Mackay information or photos connected to Caithness that are sent in. is not a family history web site but we are happy to add a few requests from time to time if it helps.

Wick Harbour At High Tide - Friday

Take a stroll with us around Wick Harbour.  In a few years much may change.  It might appear that little is changing but the new solar roof on the fish market and the £3 million repair work on the north pier to be followed by the widening over coming weeks of shore Lane and shortly the repairs to Shore Road may be just the prelude of much more activity.   So here is look at Wick Harbour warts and all at the start of 2005.  Can you spot the development opportunities?  In two or three years we may be looking at a very different set of pictures as the Harbour Trust, Councillors,  Business people and economic advisers put ideas forward.  What might happen at the harbour and Wick generally?  There are groups in Wick looking at a new community centre (£2million), Arts Centre, New Housing Developments, Blackstairs redevelopment underway, Salt Cellars/stores to become show cases for Wick Heritage, Memorial Garden in Bank Row, Dental Training unit, New shops project (seven shops headed by Homebase and Argos.  Caithness Councillors are pressing hard for the All Weather Pitch to be funded fully by the council after Sport Scotland refused funding.  A new group  - an offshoot of the Pultenytown Peoples Project is looking at the redevelopment of the Rosebank Park.  The Wick Heat and Power scheme will invest £3.5million in a wood chip scheme already proven elsewhere.  Hopefully the laying of the pipe network will be carried out to coincide with other work by Scottish Water due to take place in upgrades to their pipe system.  More alternative energy schemes look set to come to Wick possibly making it one of the foremost places in the UK for use of non fossil fuels.  The Harbour Trust is nearing the point of modernisation after a long struggle.  The existing trust body will disappear and a new body will be appointed following a new order agreed with the Scottish Executive.  At the same time a business plan funded by CASE will be available in the near future for the new trust to consider.   Everything does not go to Inverness it only seems that way as it might with any big town compared to a smaller one.  A lot is going to happen in Wick in the next two or three years so take a look at this set of pictures of Wick Harbour  - in a couple of years they might look very different.  Watch this space for much more happening in Wick.

Reminder About Useful Functions In The Business Index
Just a reminder for those of you who do not use the business information too often that there are some useful features in the index that you will not generally find in paper guides.  For example click on a post code for a particular business and it opens up a map from Multimap that allows you to click around to find the exact street where the business is located. The fax numbers are highlighted in blue to remind you that you can send a fax via email to that business. by clicking on the fax number.  And if you are struggling to find a business in the listings then try the search facility remembering to try a few variations if you do not hit the right one first time.

More Scrabster High Tide Pictures

More Pictures Of The High Water In Wick River
Pictures are still being sent in of the weather and high tide that hit Caithness and the rest of Scotland a few days ago.  These latest show the Coghill Bridge completely surrounded by water and the main bridge with amazingly high water under it. Launches Flower Patch Web Site
Well known Wick flower shop The Flower Patch now has its own web site to make it easier to contact staff get few ideas.  Phone them or email them it couldn't be easier to get flowers for any special occasion.  Remember you can always find the Flower Patch web site via the link in our Business Index via our business side Scorrie Internet Services makes it easier to find local businesses on the web.  Watch out for the Flower Patch banner as that will soon join our list of advertisers.

South School Sale For Tsunami Appeal
On Friday afternoon South School ran sale to raise money for the Tsunami Disaster Appeal.  Children brought in many unwanted books and toys for the sale and purchased some to take home again.


Up To Eight Minutes May Be Added To Wick/Thurso - Inverness Train Journey
According to an item in the Scotsman up to eight minutes may be added to the train journey from Wick Thurso - Inverness.  This will happen from July due to new safety regulations.

Henderson Street - Thurso - Part Of Thurso Industrial Estate

More Pictures From High Tide - At The Lifeboat Scrabster Harbour

Pictures of the bad weather are still coming in and we will post them shortly.  the lifeboat shed had water in to the building like several others.  Fortunately they have wet ground floor for changing etc after trips.  the floor is concrete and little damage was caused.  Still looks scary as it is lapping atthe window.

New Restaurant To Open In John O'Groats
Caithness And Sutherland Enterprise has announced its grants awarded for December 2004.  Included  in the list is one for £12,000 to help establish a new restaurant at the Old Schoolhouse John O'Groats.  Other awards include one for a web site for the long established band Manson Grant and the Dynamos.  Richards Garage, Wick and Bervie Stores, Kinlochbervie have both gained grants towards upgrading petrol pumps

Moray Firth Radio In Wick On Monday For Tsunami Commercial Radio Appeal
Moray Firth Radio will be in Wick and other places in Highland on Monday as they join forces with 200 commercial radio stations across the country to raise funds for the DEC Asian tsunami appeal.  Part of the appeal will be asking people to 'give an hour' with companies are being asked to allow employees to donate an hour's salary. All other fundraising activity is also welcome.  Throughout the day they will have local updates on local frequencies and at one point Moray Firth will broadcast an 'insert' to the potential audience of 30million.  The plan is to have presenters in Wick, Inverness, Cairn Gorm and Elgin with the radio car travelling throughout Ross-shire.    They also hope to talk to local people who were caught up in the disaster and those who've been helping to raise funds and other aid.

Janetstown Industrial Estate
The Janetstown Industrial estate has been there for many years but activity has literally lifted off with the imposing new building nearing completion at the site near Thurso.  The new building owned by JGC Engineering and Technical Services will be involved in testing equipment for decommissioning at Dounreay.

Anyone who is still without power of water supplied in their homes today (Thursday 13th January) and is concerned about their own or their family's welfare should contact The Highland Council emergency helpline number on 0800 838 009 for further advice and assistance.  Highland Council's Emergency Planning Manager Brian Downie said: "We are aware that there are still parts of our area that are without power and water. We urge anyone who is worried or concerned about coping, especially the elderly or families with very young children to contact the emergency number on 0800 838 009"  The helpline for Council Services is 0800 838 009. The public can use this number to check road closures and report damage to council property.

Wick River Flood From Another Angle
And still the pictures are coming in on the bad weather across Caithness.  These latest show the Wick River flooding from another angle.  Fortunately this was when the tide began to turn and the water did not get much further.


Even The Tiny Reissgill Burn At Lybster Got In On the Storm Act
The Reissgill Burn at Lybster Harbour also got in on the storm as the water cascaded towards the harbour today following the stormy weather.  The normally picturesque scene turned itself into something like a miniature Zambesi for a while.
The digital revolution in Caithness has been proven by this storm as pictures continue to err... flood in from all over the county.  We will add more yet if anyone wants to add to this magnificent joint cross county effort to record the storm affects.  Thanks for all your photos.

Fishermen At Lybster Had To Keep Boats Away From Piers At High Tide

Trees And Signs Hit By Wind
Trees and signs al over the place have been blown over by the gales.  The sign in this photo is at the end of March Road coming into Wick and the trees at the house show here are typical of shallow rooted trees in severe wind conditions.


Wick River Overflows At Car Park
These latest photographs in show the Wick river overflowing into the car park at high tide today.  Sandbags were being delivered by council staff to businesses and premises in the area but it was thought that the water level would subside before it reached them.  Sandbags will be in place tonight just in case there is another surge tonight.

 Weather Links    48 Hour Forecast For Caithness  Met Office Flash Warning

Kessock Bridge Reopened for Traffic At 3.30pm Today
As weather conditions improved the Kessock Bridge was reopened today at 3.30pm

January Newsletter From Pultenytown Academy Primary School
Adverse Weather, School Meals, Tsunami appeal, Diary Dates etc.

January Newsletter From South Primary School
Discipline, School Meals, Adverse Weather, Charity Collection, January Sale for Tsunami Disaster and Kit.

Storms Lash Caithness And The Whole Of Highlands & Islands

Castletown Harbour Sees Very High Water

Scrabster Harbour Flooded As Gales Combine With Rising Tide
Scrabster was another port hit with flooding as the rising tide combined with the high winds to drive the water onto the piers and buildings around the harbour area.  High tide tonight will be watched closely by the harbour staff and businesses in the harbour.  No boats were damaged due to the hard work of people at the harbour.  No reports of property damage as sandbags were out fast.

Transport Delays In The North
Travelling was taking longer today as a number of bridges such as the Dornoch and Kessock were closed for a period early.  No trains were running north of Perth and with the Forth and Tay Bridges closed anyone trying to get north faced serious delays.  Fallen trees have caused further delays on many roads.  Most flights and ferries were cancelled today.

Harrow Harbour Sees Waves Crashing Over Pier
A boat at Harrow Harbour looks as if it was lucky to be on the inside of the Harbour Pier and not outside it as waves crashed over the top of the pier today.



A Closer Look At The Thurso River Flooding

More Views Of Stormy Weather From Thurso
More pictures from Thurso of the stormy scenes and Thurso river in flood.  These latest in are from Allan Lannon recently retired as head of Miller Academy primary school.   Digital pictures are flowing round everyone's email and we have received one set three times as folk pass them round.  Thanks to all who have sent items in and anyone is welcome to add to the gallery by sending pictures to 

Council Workmen Working Flat Out As Tide Turns
Highland council staff in Caithness have been working flat out delivering sandbags to various places especially in Thurso.  Sandbags have been delivered to Graham Begg's electrical, Norseman Hotel and the Riverside Care Home as water in the Wick river began to run into the car park at Somerfields Supermarket.  The tide is beginning to recede.  Council workmen are still delivering more sandbags along the lower reaches of the Thurso river as another high tide is expected tonight with further flooding possible.

Highland Council Sets Up Special Helpline For Information On Services
All schools in Highland are closed today Wednesday 12 January.  Many roads have been closed because of flooding and fallen trees. The Council has set up a helpline 0800 838 009 for enquiries on Council  services.

Wick Christmas Tree Snaps As Gales Continue In The North
The wind although lessening still has some force left in it as seen by the snapped trunk of the Wick Christmas tree in Market Square .  The tree which was slightly listing from the battering overnight finally succumbed this morning.



Thurso River Flooding As Seen From A Janet Street Window
Flooding can clearly be seen in these pictures taken from Janet Street looking over to Millbank Road in Thurso.  The fire Station and squash courts had water coming in and there could be damage to the courts if water got into the flooring.  Further down the river the British Legion and business premises along the street were flooded into the buildings.

Thurso Takes Full Force Of High Winds and High Tide
Thurso was hit hard by the gales last night and early this morning with the High tide being a particularly severe problem.  The Thurso river burst its banks with flooding problems being created.


Lidl's Supermarket At Wick Loses Roof Tiles With Dangerous  Metal Sheeting Flying Around
With extremely high wind speeds over night inevitably some roofs have suffered.  Lidl's supermarket at Wick has been badly damaged and police were advising people not to use the car park in case more sheeting blew off this morning.  Some pieces of sheet metal were found down the main street heading into Wick.

Highland Gets Ready For 100 Mile An Hour Gales
Highland council workers are packing more sand bags in case of flooding problems as weather forecasts show that the next 24 hours will see the area hit by storm force gales.  Heavy rain and wind gusting up to 100mph will cause problems.  Ferries may be affected with cancellations already in the Western Isles.  At around 1.00pm today the wind in Caithness was beginning to increase with much worse expected over night.  Trees and roof tiles may be subject to damage.  Winds are expected to ease by Thursday but more bad weather is expected to follow.   Weather Links    48 Hour Forecast For Caithness
Met Office Flash Warning

The former Initiative at the Edge (IatE) local development officer for Ardnamurchan, Hugh Donaldson, has been appointed as the new IatE co-ordinator for the whole of the Highlands and Islands.  Hughie took up his post on Monday 10th January, and will be based at his home in Acharacle.   Hughie is a crofter and is also closely involved with a number of local and wider voluntary organisations including the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust, Lochaber Housing Association, Scottish Crofting Foundation, Acharacle Community Company and Loch Shiel Jetties Trust.  Initiative At the Edge In Caithness is being established in South East Caithness covering the Community Council areas of Lybster, Clyth & Latheronwheel and Dunbeath & Berriedale.

Donate Blood Today At Assembly Rooms, Wick
2.00 - 4.00pm or 5.00 - 8.00pm

Want To Learn About Sea Angling?  Perhaps Get Close To Dolphins And Whales?
Well now you can do all three with the help of a new venture to be launched shortly in Caithness "The Caithness Sea Angling Experience".  Graham and Pat Finn who live near Freswick already run a fishing tackle business Kingfisher Activities manufacturing a wide range of items for fishing shops are now setting out to give the benefit of their experience to others.   The new venture will bring anglers to the north to  learn about sea angling from start to finish.  With breaks of up to five days a wide range of skills will be covered as well as enjoyable trips out in the boat to catch fish and experience the sea life around the Caithness coast.

Palace Court - Scrabster

Bishops Drive - Scrabster

Sodium Disposal World Record For Dounreay
The sodium disposal plant at PFR, built at a cost of £17 million and which became operational in March, 2004, has broken the world record for the safe destruction of liquid metal. The total destroyed to date, 770 tonnes, far exceeds the previous record of 633 tonnes, which was achieved in 2001 by EBR2, a nuclear complex in Idaho, USA. It also means that UKAEA has now safely destroyed half of the hazardous metal left over from the fast reactor programme.  The fast reactors developed at Dounreay were unique in the UK for their use of liquid metals to transfer the heat from the core to steam generators to produce electricity. At the time of its closure in 1994, PFR had an inventory of 1500 tonnes of liquid metal.

A Look Round Scrabster Harbour On Sunday

Thurso Lifeboat - The Taylors - Exercise and A Tow

Thurso lifeboat, The Taylors was out on a routine exercise and still managed to help out a boat in trouble.  Local boat Puffin had engine failure and the lifeboat was able to give her a tow back to Scrabster.

E.ON  - Another Wind Farm Application For Caithness
The latest company E.On UK to apply for a windfarm in Caithness hopes to build a 50MW windfarm at Camster.  The outline cost of the project is £45million with possibly up to £5million earmarked for local contractors in the development phase.  E.ON is the biggest provider of electricity in Germany and has an established track record of windfarms in the UK with 21 alternative energy schemes (including windfarms, biomass and hydro) already in operation.  The forestry commission own part of the land and E.ON would donate any trees felled to the newly created Wick heating scheme to be established under the recently formed company Caithness Heat and Power - a community initiative being led by Highland council. 
Camster is a vast open area of Caithness and there will almost certainly be objections to the wind farm application.

Ornithology Winners 2005
Thurso Ornithological Club held another successful show in Thurso Town Hall and here are the winners from the various classes



Caithness Scouting Area Climbing Wall Re-opened
A climbing wall had been installed in the Wick Scout Hall and was occasionally used until 3 or 4 years ago. Not many other scouting groups in the area knew about the facility and weren’t using it. It was decided to get the climbing wall reinstated so that the young scouts could get some experience of climbing in a safe warm environment.

60s 70s & 80s School Disco Revival Fund Raiser For Tsunami Disaster - Message Board
In the Thurso Legion on Friday 4th February

Calling Caithness Voluntary Groups - Looking For Funding?
Is your group looking for extra funding for a project then take look at the latest items added to our Funding for charities page.  The latest additions cover wide range of funding possibilities.  We have also added anew page to store earlier notices rather than deleting the older stories in case these are useful to jog your memory at a later date.   Obtaining funding may not be easy and it requires form filling but if you do not apply you certainly will not get the money for your project.  Remember if you are already raising money for project your efforts might well be rewarded with with a grant to make it happen sooner.

Traditional Music Workshop  -  Saturday 5 February
Another chance for anyone interested in traditional music - fiddle and accordion to get involved with some of the experts.  The February workshop takes place in Halkirk and the application form must be received by the 22nd of January.  Tutors are Charlie McKerron on fiddle and Carol-Anne Mackay on accordion.

Thurso Branch Of British Legion Fund Raiser For Tsunami Disaster
The Royal British Legion in Thurso is undertaking various activities over the next month to raise funds for the Asian Disaster Appeal   On Friday the 21st January at the Legion Club in Thurso we are holding a prize bingo with all profits going towards the cause admission £1. On Friday the 4th February at the Legion Club in Thurso we are holding a 60s, 70s, & 80s School Disco Revival for all adults 18 or over, tickets £5 available from the club. We are also organising a raffle with a first prize of TWO TICKETS TO BRYAN ADAMS at the SECC on Saturday 14th May plus various other prizes which will be advertised. The draw will take place at the School Disco Revival on the 4th February.

Put Out Your Old Christmas Trees With Your Rubbish
Old Christmas Trees can be put out with your rubbish this week on the day collection is due until 14 January.  Heavy lift items will not resume collections until 17 January.

Access In The Countryside
The latest newsletter from SNH and links to related and useful web sites.  The new legislation comes into affect in 2005 and there are grants available for paths etc.

Council Refuse Collection Will Uplift Up To Ten Bags Of Rubbish This Week
Highland Council Bin Lorries will collect up to ten extra bags of household waste this week without the need to phone in to advise them.  Next week the system reverts to normal when you will need to give them a call to have extra rubbish taken away.

Caithness Whispers Catches A Whiff Of Rabbie Burns
Listening in on the world sometimes turns up the odd item of interest.  This dialogue in Google Groups is one brought to our attention by the word "Chiel" as correctly stated still in use in Caithness.  the item starts with a translation of Robert Burns poem Tam O' Shanter appropriate ass we are heading towards Burns Night later in the month.  If you are looking for Burns links then we have a few in place - Here.
Also added to the section in case anyone is looking for the poems or meanings is a copy of the text by the Gutenberg project of the Complete Works of Burns and a glossary of words and meanings.

Charlie Chan's Restaurant Raffle Raises Cash For Local Spina Bifida
Thurso's popular Charlie Chans Chinese Restaurant held a raffle which was drawn on New's Years day. All the prizes, including bottles of wine, a Dunlop sports watch, Chinese moving dolls and various vouchers were donated by the proprietors. The raffle raised a total of £171 with all the proceeds donated to the local branch for Spina Bifida.  All prizes can be collected from the restaurant and the numbers for the winning raffle tickets are:  133, 156, 196, 162, 84, 227, 282, 148 and 69.

Visitor Record Broken In 2004 Even With Lost Server Days
Thanks To All Our Contributors and visitors In 2004
1 Jan 04 - 31 Dec 04 -
Hits : 78,408,888  Visitors : 1,345,310
December 2004 -
Hits : 6,332,592  Visitors : 108,639
2004 broke the records for visitors and hits again in 2004 even although we had a few days of server problems in December where the site was not available.  Despite those few days of problems in December the visitor rate is still up reaching 1,345,310 visitors with a hit rate in excess of 78million.  Photographs of all kinds continue to be very popular and the castles section shows no sign of waning in the sections.

UKAEA - The First Fifty Years
This short history of UKAEA provides an overview of the 50 years up to 2004 with links to names and places mentioned in the text



First Aid Course For Childminders
Caithness Childcare and Family Resource Partnership are organising a first aid course at the North Highland College - Wick, on Wednesday 19th January 2005 from 6pm to 9.30pm. The course is open to Childminders and people working within the childcare sector, places on the course are free and only a limited number are available for this course, to book a place please contact Lindsay Gunn on 01955 605040 or e-mail

Wick Parties Into 2005