Things to do in Caithness - Visit the Castle of Old Wick
On the day I visit the Castle of Old Wick, the sky is stormy and brooding, the wind is howling and the sea is boiling and frothing.
Luckily, living in Orkney, I'm used to these conditions and exploring the coast of Caithness in the winter requires the same hardiness and thick layers of clothing to withstand the North Sea forces. The masochist in me actually enjoys being outdoors when the elements are at their harshest as it often means witnessing Mother Nature at her most dramatic.
After a short gusty walk along the cliff trail from the car park, during which I just about manage to stay upright, I get my first glimpse of one of Scotland's oldest castles, thought to date back to the 1100s.
I've seen some people comment that there isn't much to see, but I'm surprised that so much of the walls of the squat square tower are still standing. Let's not forget it is around 900 years old and sits in an exposed position on a narrow headland being battered by wind and water on a regular basis. I know I look pretty rough after just a couple of hours outside in those conditions!
As the waves crash against the rocks below I can imagine that this could be a bleak place to stay in the winter. However, as defensive positions go, building on a location that has sheer craggy sea cliffs on three sides is a smart choice. The remaining side on the mainland was defended by a gatehouse, two defensive ditches and drawbridge, just to make sure it was pretty much impregnable.
The castle's prominent coastal position also made it a good navigational marker and sailors referred to it as 'The Old Man of Wick'.
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