Timespan Museum and Arts Centre
Visit the Timespan centre's museum, art exhibitions, archive and gardens on a trip to the riverside village of Helmsdale in Sutherland.

Visit Timespan Museum and Arts Centre in Helmsdale

Delve into local history at Timespan

Down the coast in Helmsdale, less than an hour’s drive from Mackays Hotel, Timespan is a fascinating place to visit in the far north of Scotland. Its museum first opened in 1987 and shares the local and social history of the area. It covers topics such as the Highland Clearances, the herring fishing industry and the Scottish gold rush. Shared through local stories, historical artefacts and virtual displays. It is also an arts centre, which hosts a programme of exhibitions and events.

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About Timespan

Timespan is a cultural centre, comprising a museum, art gallery, cafe and gift shop, and herb and geology gardens. In addition, the centre’s archive holds over 11,000 items donated by the local community and is open to the public for self-guided research. Located on the banks of the River Helmsdale, this is a must for anyone interested in the history of the local area.


On a 14-day NC500 trip staying in 10 different hotels, this one stood out food wise as the best, including over some more expensive accommodation. We had a DBB rate. Usually hotels only provide a table d’hote menu if dinner is included but McKays allowed us full range of the menu. Our dinner was perfect even without a glass of wine to go with our steaks due to covid regs in Scotland. The breakfast was also the best on our trip. Top marks to the kitchen staff. I gather the hotel is family run over a couple of generations and it shows. Friendly, attentive staff at reception and restaurant. Warm and welcoming.

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Local history...
Landscape near Helmsdale, Highlands, Scotland
River Helmsdale flowing through the village of Helmsdale

Helmsdale history

The village of Helmsdale and its surrounding area have a rich history, which is explored in the Timespan Museum. The village was planned in 1814 to resettle communities that had been moved as part of the Highland Clearances. The museum tells the story of the clearances and the huge impact they had on the community. It also shares information on the local herring fishing industry, the history of crofting and the Kildonan Gold Rush of 1869.

Visiting Timespan

How to get there

Timespan is located in the village of Helmsdale, on the banks of the river by the old Telford stone bridge. This village on the east coast of Sutherland is easy to reach from Wick via the A99 and A9. The journey from Mackays Hotel takes less than an hour.

Scottish history and heritage

Explore more local history with Mackays

Mackays Hotel is located in a historic area, with so much to discover during your stay with us. So, find more history and heritage sites in the far north of Scotland, and check out lots of other great things to do near Wick in our See and Do Guide.

A summer view along the North Sea coastline near the village of Helmsdale

Explore more below…