What to See and Do in the Halkirk area
The Ulbster Arms Hotel - Halkirk Westerdale Mill The Thurso River - Fly Fishing The Halkirk Games
Spittal Village Hall Fossil Centre and Tea Rooms Harpsdale Fishery Park
Loch Calder Links Ross Institute
Braal Castle Classic Cars Achalone Activities

The name Halkirk comes from the Norse for "High Church" and was originally Ha-kirk-ja.  This village is the first planned village in the highlands, the plans being drawn up in 1803 on a grid-iron basis.  This is revealed when you look at a map of Halkirk and the street layout.

Halkirk has a "half day closing" on Wednesdays.  Not all of the shops are shut but some are.  

Braal Castle
The original Braal Castle was once the principal seat of the Earls of Caithness.

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The picture is of the new Castle in Halkirk which was built in the late 19th century.  The original castle is now in ruins and lies to the right of the new one (as you are looking at it now).

There are many stories of the old castle in Halkirk.  One in particular is of Bishop Adam who ended his days tragically on 11th September 1222.  The Bishop was paid his taxes in butter, traditionally a spann for every 20 cows.  He increased the taxes to a spann of butter for every 15 cows, then 12, then finally every 10 cows, effectively doubling the tax.

The locals took exception to this, gathered on the hill near the village, seized the Bishop, locked him into a small house and burnt him.

King Alexander was very annoyed - well I think it could be classed as very annoyed - when he cut the hands and feet off of 80 people in retaliation.

Westerdale Mill
This is a working mill that Provides Dale House with its electricity.

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The Thurso River - Fly Fishing
Thurso River is renowned for its Salmon Fishing.  If you are interested in fishing a beat on Thurso River, contact Thurso Fisheries on: 01847 893134

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The Halkirk Games - 2002
These games are famous and are one of the biggest Highland Games in Scotland.  Athletes from all over Scotland come to Halkirk to compete in these games.  This year the weather was again excellent and the day was enjoyed by all.  

There was lots to see and do, a few examples being:

  • pipers
  • piping competitions
  • races
  • throwing the hammer
  • spinning demonstrations
  • a fun fair

An old saying proclaims that once the  Halkirk Games are past - that is when you notice the nights drawing in!  Summer's end...... 

The games are normally held on the last Saturday in July.

To find out more about the Halkirk Highland Games Click Here

Highland Dancing Competition

1st Battalion The Highlanders

Throwing the hammer

The bouncy slide was very popular

The wool is unwashed and rich in lanolin

You can even see the puff of smoke from the starter's gun

Two Sinclairs in the Clan Sinclair Library van

The piping competition Spinning demonstrations Waiting for the next race 1st Battalion The Highlanders
Spittal Village Hall Fossil Centre and Tea Rooms
The Flag-stone quarries at Spittal Hill have been working for many years.  During this time there have been many fossils revealed, some of which are on display in this village hall museum.

Opening hours:

  • From 24 June to start of September
  • Wed to Sunday - 10.00am to 4.00pm

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Achalone Activities
Pony Trekking, Quad Bikes, Hacking and Lessons.  Telephone:  01847 831326

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Loch Calder
Trout fishing on Loch Calder: you need a permit which can be obtained from  Harper's Fly Fishing in Thurso.  Calder is one of the few lochs where (I believe) worm fishing is allowed.
Dirlot Castle
Keep going past Westerdale Mill, follow the road to the old sand quarry and turn off into it, go on through the quarry - do not stop in the quarry as there are dangerous pools and disused buildings here!  When you reach the farm at the end, find a good place to park and walk toward the cemetery.  Below the cemetery is what is known as the Kettle Pool. 

This pool is quite deep  - about four and a half metres (not bottomless as rumoured!) and has many big rocks in it which lie just below the surface so don't dive in!  

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Legend tells us that a valuable treasure (a kettle of gold) was thrown into the pool to stop the invaders winning it.  A number of attempts by strong swimmers have been made over the years to retrieve the gold but that they never surfaced alive, only a few internal organs drifted to the surface!  The treasure is supposed to be guarded by a fearsome water horse.

Beside this pool, across from the cemetery is a high pinnacle of rock which used to house Dirlot Castle, now ruined with only small fragments left.  It was originally built by Sir Reginald De Cheyne, then owned by the Gunns, Sutherlands and Mackays.  It was built in the 14th century.

Ordnance Survey Map Ref: ND126487

This is a beautiful place for a picnic.  

The cemetery is in the shape of an arrow head supposedly because it was built by the forerunners of today's Masons.

Ross Institute
The Ross Institute was the first public building in Scotland to have an electric clock.  It is the village hall where dances, playgroups and indoor bowling are held on a regular basis,
You can also see the Halkirk Community Website and ebigh.com they provide a lot more detailed information about the area.