The name Wick derives from the Norse word "vik", which means "bay". The layout of the town is medieval, although most of the buildings are 18th-century. One particular part of town known as Pulteneytown, a herring town which was designed by Scottish engineer Thomas Telford, was granted £1.5m from Historic Scotland a few years ago for regeneration, enabling the restoration of many of the area's beautiful buildings. In 2006 a street in Wick called Ebenezer Place made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the world's shortest street, trumping the previous holder of the record in Bacup, Lancashire. Wick suffered a tragedy during World War II, when bombs which were intended for the harbour instead hit a house, killing 21 civilians, including 11 children. The large number of children killed was in part due to the fact that it was the first day of the summer holiday, and there were many children playing outside at the time. A war memorial now marks the spot where the house stood.
There are a number of attractions in the town for visitors. Wick has its own distillery, the Old Pulteney Distillery, which produces a Single Malt Whisky. There is also a Heritage Centre covering many aspects of local life and history. Boat trips are available along the Caithness coast, allowing visitors to observe the coastline, castles and wildlife, which occasionally includes whales or dolphins. Old Wick Castle, dramatically situated on top of steep cliffs one mile south of the town, is thought to have been built in the late 12th/early 13th century. For the birdwatchers, there is the Wick River Walk, which includes a tidal estuary which is a haven for wading birds, while further inland small birds such as the sedge warbler and reed bunting can be observed.
Map of the area.
© 2007 Stanley Howe, via Wikimedia Commons
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