Ebenezer Place is OFFICIALLY recorded by the Guinness Book of Records as being the world's shortest street in the world at 2.06 m (6 ft 9 in). It actually serves as the front door, and not much else, for the ‘No. 1 Bistro’, part of Mackay's Hotel. The street was created in 1883 when the owner of the original hotel was required to paint the name on this short side of the hotel. 1 Ebenezer Place was officially declared a street in 1887. It is between Union Street and River Street and is actually the busiest street in town due to its strategic location.
The interesting thing is that it was only recognised as the shortest street in 2006. The owner of Macay’s Hotel submitted it and it beat the previous holder – Elgin Street in Bacup (England) at 17ft 2in.
I have actually eaten at the No. 1 Bistro – but that’s another tip!
On the cliffs, around 1 ½ kilometres south of the town centre lie the ruins of Old Wick castle, often known under the nickname “Old Man of Wick”. Not much is left of the former castle, only the stump of a tower (once with the height of four stories) and a couple of stones remain in place. The castle was built by the Norsemen in the 12th century and changed ownership several times. John Sinclair captured it in 1569 and 200 years later fell into decay (probably, it was derelict in the 17th century already). A more detailed history can be found under the link below. At the site, here are two boards explaining the history of the castle and showing how it must have looked like. Entry is free – there are no ticket booths and the castle is open at any time of the day and year.
There are two paths leading to the castle. One possibility is to take the path on the cliffs which runs along the coast from the harbour (note: ON the cliffs, not directly at the coast). The other path runs south from the main graveyard, close to the retail centre. Be sure to have appropriate shoes with you, especially when the ground is wet and the stones become slippery (no high heels or flip-flops please). Both paths run through a zone which is adjacent to military grounds. In the rather unlikely case you see a red flag, please do not go further as that means that the army is training. A parking lot is located within a short walking distance of the castle, but don’t ask me which road leads there.
Yet another of those harbours!! This one is situated at the northern end of huge Sinclair Bay, north of Wick. It is still used today by a number of fishing boats, mainly creel fishing for crabs and lobsters.
The large, redeveloped Harbour House, originally the fishing station, is now a modern five bedroomed house to let. it is certainlt prominently positioned and is an imposing building.
Strangely, for some reason, the day we visited the water in the harbour was a wierd, cloudy colour, as if mixed with clay. it was very stormy and their was a strong, unpleasant odour in the air, not unlike sewage! I don't think it was but who then, it could have been.
There are steps up to the village where the views of the harbour are particularly good.
To the north of the harbour is a man-made swimming pool, totally tidal. Further north still, standing imposingly on the cliff edge, is Keiss castle ruins. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see it as the rain had arrived and it was blowing a gale.
To the south, ther is a road down to Sinclair bay, a long, exposed,sandy beach.
A tiny harbour at the end of the road at Ackergill.
There are substantial remains of a large launching ramp and a most impressive ice house.
There is a pretty little sandy beach in this harbour with beautifully clear water.
Ackergill is just another of those intriguing, historical little harbours that are used today for pleasure more than fishing.
From here is a lovely view of privately owned Ackergill Tower, sitting majestically at the near end of Sinclair's Bay. This is a spectacularly sandy beach with sand dunes behind. Much of this is a nature reserve but you can walk in either direction along the dunes or beach from the carpark by the golf course at Reiss. Free parking.
Now this castle is a must - it is northern Scotland's most spectacular ruin and not to be missed.
Spectacularly sited on a promontory with geo's (deep inlets)either side and jutting out into Sinclair Bay, it is about a ten minute walk to the cliff top from the car park.
The castle is subject to a preservation order by it's owners, the Clan Sinclair Trust and a considerable amount of restoration work is taking place.
The castle was built by William Sinclair, the 2nd Earl of Caithness, in the late 1400's and has been added to a various times.
We were lucky to have the place more or less to ourselves which was a definite added bonus. There are so many photo opportunities here, keep your camera handy.
The path takes you over a new bridge that enters the castle where the drawbridge would have been. Again, there are many unguarded drops so watch any children.
Walk to the left of the ruins and there are a couple of stacks close by.
There are information boards along the whole path as well as at the castle, which include the usual re-construction drawings.
We loved the place and were deeply impressed with the whole place, especially the work being put into it today.
On the walk back, we noticed many blue butterflies amongst an array of wild flowers.
The big attraction at Noss Head is Castle Sinclair Girnigoe but that is not all!!
We decided to go for a walk in the opposite direction from the castle, towards the coast south of the lighthouse. We followed a footpath which actually goes all the way to Staxigoe but once on the cliffs, we just followed our instincts and opted to walk northwards. Later in the day, we came back and walked southwards.
The cliffs here are spectacularly high with amazing formations and home to hundreds of seabirds.Lichen covered rocks project from the clifftops, almost like diving platforms, offering dizzying views down to the sea far below.
There are many caves in the cliffs here and although you can't see some of them for fear of leaning too far over the edge, you can hear the sea booming and echoing as the waves hit the back of the caves. Quite an eerie sound. Some caves we could see and I photod the birds nesting in the cracks above the caves.
We stopped often, always on the look-out for seals. We weren't disappointed as we spotted plenty. Out would come the binoculars and we'd sit enthralled, watching these beautiful creatures going about their everyday business.
A very pretty and interesting old harbour just to the north of Wick.
We visited here after our stay at Noss Head and found it very interesting, with placards informing of the good old days here.
The name Staxigoe originates from the Norse words, GJA and GOE meaning inlet and stack and this is indeed what Staxigoe is, an inlet with it;s own stack.
The harbour was another of those built when the clearances were taking place and many of the poor crofters ended up here fishing for herrings.The houses and harbour were built from Caithness flagstone, quarried nearby and the red roof tiles used were brought by Dutch boats who used them as ballast. They would then replace them with cargo.The harbour houses were demolished in the 1940's with council houses replacing them.
Another interesting point was the Pole, a barometer erected in mid 19thc to enable the fishermen to determi9ne whether the conditions were safe for setting out to sea.
Also still very much in evidence is the Girnals, huge storehouses built to house flour,freshly milled at nearby Papigoe mill, before it was shipped off all over the world.
I have to say we found the story of Staxigoe quite fascinating and the whole area picturesque and wonderfully clean and tourist friendly.
The castle is about a five minute walk from the parking.Unfortunately our walk to Castle of Old Wick was marred by continual rain, not making photography an easy task.
Another of north eastern Scotlands fantastically sited castles, though in all honesty, there isn't a lot left of this one. it's more the dramatic location that is of appeal.The four storey tower sits on a clifftop jutting out into the sea with deep inlets either side.
The castle is known by those at sea as the Old Man of Wick, a comforting landmark in these parts. it was constructed in the 12th/13th century and it is one of the oldest in Caithness.
Despite the rain, we enjoyed our clifftop walk to the ruins. There is a strong military presence here with a firing range off to the right.
The cliffs are stupendous but be careful because there are many unguarded edges. I noticed a huge cave half-way down one cliff. Quite intriguing as it was not the sea's action that had created the huge opening, perhaps a flaw in the rock?
The castle is looked after by Historic Scotland and there is no charge.
There's a new service in Wick called "The Caithness Experience." You or your small group can be taken around in a minivan to Viking, Norman, and Scot sites that are off the highway, generally within a 40 mile radius of Wick. You'll have a knowledgeable local guide who will walk from the parking area to the sites with you. Wildlife and history will be explained.
Be sure not to miss the Stacks of Duncansby near John-O-Groats. Standing at one spot you can see six of the Orkney Islands, the geological formations on the 100-ft cliff below you, the paired stacks, tidal wash, seals, and nesting sea birds.
After a 160 year dispute among the churches of Wick, the parishes of Wick’s Old Parish Church and Bridge Street Church were reunited in 2007 to form the new Parish of St. Fergus. It will have its home at the former Old Parish Church which is known as St. Fergus Church. St. Fergus was an Irish monk who was a missionary in what would later become Caithness. Thus, he is Wick’s patron saint.
St. Fergus church was built in 1820, but earlier buildings on this site already existed in the 12th century. It is now Wick’s main church.
Despite the history of the new parish, St. Fergus chapel remains more interesting to me. It is a 13th century chapel which was left into decay. Together with the adjacent churchyard, it creates an atmosphere that can even top the most fallen down parts of Pulteneytown in “ghostlyness”. The chapel once contained an effigy of St. Fergus which was destroyed during the reformation. A replica is shown in Wick’s public library.
Although I wouldn’t have recongnized it as a street of its own and just as part of a roundabout instead, Ebenezer Place is recognized as the world’s shortest street. The name Ebenezer Place was already in use in the 19th century when Mackay’s Hotel was opened. The building which is now 1, Ebenezer Place was finished in 1883, but the door (which was required to make Ebenezer Place an own street in 1887) was added later. It took over 200 years to make Ebenezer place officially recognized as the world’s shortest street. For that, it needed its one postal adress. In 2006, Number One Bistro (still part of Mackay’s Hotel) got its own post adress and gained the record for Wick. With a length of 2,06 meters it is not even half as large as the previous recordholder, Elgin Street in Bacup, Lancashire (5,20 meters).
In the mid-19th century, Pulteneytown was built as a settlement for workers in the Fishing industry during the peak of the industrial revolution. It was designed by Thomas Telford according to the needs of a major fishing town and named after Sir William Pulteney, governor of the British Fisheries Society. The sad side was that is is an indirect result of the highland clearances. It was administered independently from Wick until 1902.
Today, Pulteneytown is a derelict monument form Wick’s history. As the herring industry lost importance after WWII, Wick also began a period of downturn from which it never recovered. Pulteneytown became the most affected part of Wick and today, many of Pulteneytown’s buildings are left into decay. However, there are still examples of restoration, may it be as a shop or as a refurbished living house. A walk through Pulteneytown does not show only both faces of this development, but gives you and idea of Pulteneytown’s former glory. For the latter one, paving stones were set to display where once several shops of Pulteneytown were, where you will now only find a derelict building. For more information, please visit or contact the Wick heritage museum, which is an award-winning institution.
While many buildings have been restored and some of them have new functions, many buildings in Pulteneytown are in urgent need of being restored or just left into decay. Two examples are the Barrogill Hall and the Old Cannery.
The Barrogill Hall was once built by the Wick Free Church (Bridge Street) in 1893. Its name was to be Wick Free Church Hall, but due to the proud of Pulteneytowners, who contributed a lot to the building of this hall, the current name was chosen. A plaque, meant to bear the previously chosen name, remained blank. Barrogill Hall was used for many purposes, from community gatherings via Sunday Schools to Disco nights in the 1970s. Unfortunately, its heaydays are gone. The last thing I heard was that it was up for sale, but the new owner needs to put in some money as it has not been used for years and seems to need tome serious refurbishment.
There are many derelict buildings in Pulteneytown, but the old cannery at Harbour Road has impressioned me the most. It can be best viewed from Harbour Terrace, close to the house where Robert Louis Stevenson once lived. Unfortunately, I haven’t found out more about it. The only thing I know for sure is that it was a cannery and that everything grows in it – mainly tares, but surely no prosperity.
Although the Blitz attacks on London are better known, the first English town to be attacked by German bomber aircraft was Wick. On July 1st 1940, three aircraft approached the coast of Caithness with the airport as its main target. They dropped bombs over Pulteneytown. 15 people were killed in Bank Row, including 8 children. Three months later, a house at Hill Avenue was hit and three people were killed. It took quite a long time until a place of remembrance was installed in Bank Row, close to the space where the bombs fell. It was inaugurated in 2004 and includes a small garden together with boards documenting the attacks.
The old pilot station is one of Wick's better known landmarks. Indeed, it was one of my first impressions of Wick as FlyBe had it on their inflight magazine destination guide. It was built in 1908 when the harbour and the fishing industries played a larger role. Its view over the harbour and the town itself also attracted young couples – Edwardian as well as 21st century ones. Today, it is just a well-kept reminder of a bygone era with beautiful ironwork details and one of Wick's most-loved buildings. And by the way, it is an excellent point to take pictures of the town as the pilot house overlooks the harbour and large parts of the town centre.