A Special Location on the North Coast 500
If you are looking for things to do in Wick while travelling through the North Highlands, perhaps on your trip around the North Coast 500, a perfect way to spend a couple of hours is on the informative and enjoyable Wick Walking Tour.
We will meet at your hotel, or agreed on arrival point, and take a stroll around the historic Royal Burgh of Wick.
The history of Wick goes back even further than when the Vikings arrived to give the port its name. The town is most famous for being the largest herring landing port in Scotland in the nineteenth century. Today Wick plays an important role in the forefront of the renewable energy industry as the land support headquarters for the Beatrice wind farm in the Moray Firth.
A Walking Tour that Adapts to You
The walking tour will take approximately two hours to complete, possibly longer if we stop at a café. You will learn about Wick’s development from prehistory, Neanderthal nomads, Pictish monks, and the Vikings impact on the North Highlands. Discover the heyday of Wick as the east coast’s busiest fishing port and its place today as a hub in renewable energy.
Hear about the fascinating characters of Wick; stand where the famous painter Lowry stood when he painted the Blackstairs; admire the genius of civil engineer Thomas Telford and hear some strange stories of the happenings in this remarkable town. It will be a packed couple of hours, leaving you wanting to discover more and stay longer.
Additional Options Available
Old Pulteney, the world-beating whisky, is distilled in Pulteneytown. The Wick Heritage Centre has a fascinating collection of the town history. If you want, we can organise a visit to tie in with the walk.
The price for the Wick Walking Tour is £25 per person (with a minimum charge of £50). Pay on arrival (cards accepted). Discounts are available for larger parties to a maximum of 12 people, and children are welcome when accompanied by a responsible adult.
A typical Wick walking tour might start the bridge over the River Wick. The bridge separates the older town of Wick from the newer Pulteneytown south of the river. We could look at Bridge Street and its curious buildings and strange stilted construction. We might pass through the car park and the river flood plain of the Riverside. Here, the region’s earliest inhabitants, early nomads from the Iron Age, stopped for a spot of fishing.
The Old Town – Wick
Clambering up the hill to the parish church of St. Fergus, we could speculate on who actually was the mysterious Pictish saint. We could look at the remnants of the 15th Century church that still stand in the crowded graveyard.
Wandering on down the High Street, we could discuss the ramshackle nature of this area’s development. We would stop at the Mercat Cross to hear the surprising story behind granting Royal Burgh status to this outpost in the far north. After hearing stories of extraordinary events in the market area, we could head down towards the harbour with more tales along the way.
The New Town – Pulteneytown
We shall start discussing Lord Pulteney as we cross over into Pulteneytown and his favourite engineer Thomas Telford. Walking through the streets of Lower Pulteneytown and along the harbour front, we shall contrast the past and the present as the new clean and pristine port services the Beatrice wind farm out in the Moray Firth.
We might want to climb the famous Blackstairs painted by Lowry on his holiday. Now we will be in the Upper town where the rich merchants and fishing moguls lived in luxury. It was here Telford designed much of his own favourite work. Perhaps we could discuss the distillery, the old brewery, and the remarkable water supply that still feeds the town today. Walking around, we will begin to understand the size of the task of creating an entire town from scratch. Wick would be full to bursting with itinerant workers for the summer months. In the winter, rope makers, coopers and other trades carried on year-round to service the biggest herring port in Scotland.
A Wider Historical Context
We might mention the author Robert Louis Stevenson and his dislike of the place. We will also learn of his father’s terrible time attempting to build a sea wall, perhaps that engineer’s only failure. It might prove interesting to talk about the myriad churches serving the faithful of the many different congregations and traditions. Perhaps we will discuss personal hygiene and medicine development through the generous Mrs Henderson of Rosemount and Alexander brothers.
We might think about the American Steel Magnate Andrew Carnegie and his philanthropy. Then we could discuss the fall and rise of the local press and its presence over the years. Then we will pass by the shortest street in the world! Before we know it, we will be back where we started, at the bridge of this extraordinary town.