The Norseman Hotel is located in the small picturesque and historically rich town of Wick. Wick's history stretches back, at least, to the time of the Vikings, when it was called "Vik", the Norse word for bay. Wick is famous for its fishing industry, having had the biggest herring port in all of Europe in the 19th century. While nowadays the harbour is used more for commercial trade than fish, and has turned into a popular destination for yachts in the summer, you can still relive its history in an enjoyable tour at the Wick Heritage Centre.
If history is not what you are looking for then there are still a vast array of activities to look forward to during your stay. Here you can discover our three outstanding coasts and the vast open spaces of the Flow Country. Whether venturer or adventurer, Caithness offers you numerous unique leisure opportunities.
Diving – Diving in Caithness is available throughout the year. It is known to have some of the finest diving areas in the UK, particularly the popular scenic and wreck sites.
Kayaking – The Pentland Canoe Club is based in Thurso, where the club enjoys most forms of paddling due to the Caithness environment. Kayaking is a very popular activity, and is also available in Wick.
White Water Rafting – And white water tours in the Pentland Firth are an exciting adventure as you enjoy a scenic route and ride through standing waves and overfalls. This excellent pastime is made available through a state-of-the-art 11 metre RIB operating out of John O’Groats.
Climbing – The most frequented areas are at Latheronwheel and Mid Clyth, however there are other lesser known areas to climb such as Sarclet, Occumster, and Noss, amongst others. Most climbing points are found in the SMC guide to Northern Highlands.
Golf – There are many different golf courses to make the most of. All of which are thoroughly enjoyed by both tourists and the locals.
Surfing - The world famous reef break at Thurso East has become popular for surfers from all over the world. It is a sparsely populated area, meaning there is a good chance you will be surfing by yourself, or maybe even with a few seals.
Caithness Seacoast - For something different but lots of fun for all the family Wick offers you the chance to go on an exciting adventure around the seacoast. You will be taken out on their Geo Explorer to give you the opportunity to visit a vast array of ruined castles and learn about their dark histories, to see birds and marine animals up close, explore caves, visit Whaligoe steps, and other superb activities.
Aurora Borealis – Otherwise known as the Northern lights, if you're lucky you might see this natural phenomenon in our clear night skies. With less light pollution than anywhere else in the UK, you will come to no better place whether it's the Northern Lights or stars you're looking for. To view this beautiful sight, these videos were taken in Caithness.
Geopark - Explore Scotland’s three and a half billion years journey through time. Here you can discover old rocks and classic hills like Suilven and Stac Pollaidh. In amongst the wildest places in place, take a chance to breathe it all in. Bag a Munro by scaling Ben Hope and take in the magnificent view across the Kyle of Tongue and far west to Lochinver.
Walking – Discover our remarkable coastline and delve into the history of our ancient lands while you walk in the footsteps pf our Pictish and Norse ancestors whose enigmatic architectural remains decorate our landscape.
Paintball - Paintball is available for groups as low as eight and as high as twenty. Booked in advance you can take part in a fun course with friends or family. All protective gear and set up is available.
Whaligoe Steps - A popular attraction among active tourists, these 365 man-made steps a good days walk to find the perfect place for a pic nic. These steps were orignally used in the 19th century when fisherwomen would travel down to haul creels of herring from fishing boats. Once gutted the women would make the 7-8 mile journey to Wick with the herring, which would later go on to be sold.
The wildlife cruises across the Pentland Firth are known to attract not just tourists, but the locals too. When you set off from Gills Bay you will be able to see the Stroma and Swona islands where common and grey seals can be seen lazing on the shore. If you look carefully at Swona island you might even be able able to catch a glimpse of the now famous feral cattle. Depending on the time of year, while passing through the Firth, you may be able to find porpoises, orca, dolphins, Minke Whales and on the rare occasion in the summer perhaps even a basking shark. For bird watchers there are cliffs where you can see close up the bird colonies of variety of birds including puffs, fulmars, great skua, razor bills, guillemots, gannets, and many others.
More locally it is common for otters to be seen in the rivers of both Wick and Thurso, although they are occasionally seen in Havens or beaches, near small streams. For more information on watching for wildlife please click here.
What’s more with free on-site parking, it is both convenient and accessible. The nearest city is Inverness, which is roughly a 2 hour 30 minute drive through some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Scotland. Thurso train station provides regular services to Inverness and the hotel is also located on the main bus route to and from the city. There are two car-ferry ports; one at Gills Bay and another at Scrabster, each just a 15 minute drive away. For those travelling by air, Inverness Airport offers flights to a range of national and European destinations whilst the regional Airport at Wick is just a 20 minute drive away and receives flights from Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Kirkwall.
The old Viking town of Wick is just half an hour away and is home to the famous Old Pulteney Distillery. Here visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the distillery and even sample a dram of their distinctive ‘Genuine Maritime Malt’.
For history enthusiasts, there are a range of castles to visit. The 16th Century Castle and Gardens of Mey is one of the region’s most popular tourist attractions and remains to this day a striking architectural achievement and a fascinating day out. There is also the 13th century Dunrobin Castle, where viewings of the castle and gardens are available. However, most popular is the daily demonstrations of the birds of prey where a range of native and exotic animals can be seen in an enjoyable show. Locally there are the ruins of castles, which on a nice day can be a pleasant walk. The Castle of Old Wick dates to the 1100s making it one of the oldest castles in Scotland. Locally it is often referred to as the Auld Wick Castle or the Old Man of Wick. The earliest mention the castle being referred to as the Old Man is in the 18th century when Caithness fishermen used its gaunt features as a landmark. The 17th Century Sinclair Girnigoe Castle remains to be somewhat of a mystery as little is known about its history. However, it is the only castle in Scotland to be listed by the World Monuments Fund.
Castle of Mey Dunrobin Castle
If you would rather a relaxing day within Wick itself, there are a selection of local shops to visit, libraries, art galleries, swimming pool, and a fitness centre. There are also playing fields where the family can enjoy crazy golf, tennis, trampolines, lawn bowls, and an all weather sports pitch/court. The assembly rooms can also be booked for badminton. If you do not have your own transport, by bus or train you can also visit Thurso where there are a range of activities to take part in and a cinema to enjoy.
Also on offer is a chance to get a taste of the thriving music scene that holds many genres of music for everyone to enjoy. Traditional music has deep roots within our northern culture, and there are plenty of venues across the county where you can visit to experience anything from break beat to bagpipes. Listening to our music will also give you the opportunity to get “the craic” with other visiting tourists and local residents. Whether you are looking for artists, galleries, cinemas, historical exhibition, or visitor centres, there is a wealth of activities available for you to enjoy.
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'Until last week I'd have told you that the best view anywhere in the world is from the lounge of the Regent hotel in Kowloon, at dusk. You look across the harbour, with the junks and the Star Ferry, to the towering, twinkling, neon majesty of Hong Kong island, and you think: 'My God.'
'Then, last week, I climbed Ben Tongue, a mountain not far from Cape Wrath in the north of Scotland, and the view from up there was beyond human comprehension. It was way beyond epic. It was just dazzling.'
'You can forget the Kalahari seen from the north-south highway in Namibia. You can forget the Empty Quarter in the United Arab Emirates, or the Perfume River in Vietnam, or the Grand Canyon. I've seen all of these things and while they're jolly dramatic, they're one-dimensional, one-trick ponies.'
'That view from Ben Tongue had the lot. Golden beaches, massive seas, gentle lakes, mountains, and every sort of weather. At the summit it was snowing, and very windy. But if I moved 10ft to the left it was a glorious sunny evening, with showers, and the odd hail storm. It was, quite literally, the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow. It was the best view in the world.'
If you need to know about The Porsche review he was doing at the time you can read the article here.