Discover the Highlands
When choosing to stay at the Norseman Hotel, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy the local area.
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. 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.
Fishing – Probably one of the most popular pastimes in Caithness, there are a range of fishing areas waiting to be explored. For more on fishing visit Wick's local fishing shop, Hugo Ross.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.