The Castle of Old Wick

So, you’re looking for a little Wick history? And you want to enjoy dramatic scenery and coastlines? Well, look no further than the Castle of Old Wick walk, just 8 minutes from our hotel doorstep.

Wick History and Castle

This is a first stop when on holiday in the Scottish Highlands! And as one of Scotland’s oldest castles, the ruins of Old Wick Castle are spectacular. During your walk, you will enjoy spectacular views and delights. The Highland castle itself is small and in ruins. But please don’t let that put you off! Apart from the dramatic scenery and wildlife to enjoy, you can still get a good feel for what this historic castle was like in its heyday. And it really is a spectacular must-see thing to do when on holiday in Wick and Caithness, set high on the cliff rocks.

Old Wick Castle in the distance on the cliffs

About This Castle Walk

Firstly, how to get there? Well, the castle can be found a short 15 minute-walk across uneven grassland (it is stoney in places and unsteady underfoot). So, you must wear comfy shoes that are stable for walking rough terrain. This really is quite a spectacular venture with the most stunning sights. Indeed, if the steep cliffs and the sea crashing on the rocks aren’t enough, the castle itself is set upon a narrow promontory jutting into the North Sea!

As such, on your ventures please take care on the cliffs with dogs and children. That is to say, if you keep to the paths you will be perfectly safe and can really enjoy the dramatic dramatic cliffs and spectacular sights. During your ventures, you will enjoy beautiful views across the sea. And if lucky, you might see grey seals sunbathing on a sunny day. During the day, they enjoy basking in a little bay as you head towards the castle. Explore the castle via Google Street View.

The History Of Old Wick Castle

The castle is said to have been influenced by the Kings of Norway. They exercised a huge influence on the economic and political life of Scotland. It is thought, Earl of Caithness, Harold Maddadson, built the castle in the 1160s, when Caithness was part of the lands ruled over by the Norse Earls of Orkney. Furthermore, being under the influences of the time, the castle is simple, with a focus upon its defences. It is protected on three sides by 30m sheer cliffs to the crashing sea below. In addition, the castle walls were built over two metres thick in a square roughly 8 x 5 meters wide. And with storeys it stands approximately 10 metres tall, with only a single window per floor. Plus, the entrance was on the seaside of the castle, to offer protection to its occupants entering and exiting the castle.

From Grand Structure to Ruin

Sadly, the only accurate documentation regarding the castle’s history was when it was besieged by the Sinclairs in 1569. Thanks to its excellent protection, the only route of access to the castle was to starve its occupants into submission – a gruesome but ultimately successful tactic. As time passed, the castle stopped being used as a residence in the 1700s, falling into the beautiful ruin it is today.

Old Wick Castle set on the cliffs on a sunny day

The Castle of Old Wick is maintained by Historic Scotland as a free Scottish attraction open to the public year-round. Always take care when visiting the site, however. It is very exposed to the elements. It should also be noted that a walk of about three quarters of a mile is necessary to reach it.

The Castle Ruins Today

Now, only the ruins of the single square tower remain. Likewise, the walls are badly damaged with the southern and eastern walls mostly collapsed. However, access is granted to the ground floor. And, you will also find the footings of an associated courtyard and the promontory crossing over to the castle rock high above the sea. The ancient courtyard to the rear contained two rows of buildings and is expected to and have terminated at a small courtyard with a sea gate. Furthermore, access to the castle would have been gated and potentially accessed via a drawbridge across a 10m ditch. But it is the castle’s location on the steep cliffs that offered its greatest defence. And as such beautiful views surround your explorations along the coast. Whatsmore, you can extend your walk along the cliffs past the castle. And here you can enjoy spotting the seabirds and nature around.

How to Find Old Wick Castle

Sat nav: Wick, Caithness, KW1 4XF

So, how to find this historic Scottish castle ruin? Well, there is a car park situated 800m from the castle ruins – just a short 15-minute walk. There are convenient signposts to the castle if you are coming from Wick. Follow the signs and eventually you reach a car park. And this super walk steps off as soon as you park up! Here, the rocks by the car park alone make for a spectacular seascape. Further directions here.

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