£2m Abattoir For Caithness
A brand new abattoir is set to open in Caithness following grant approval by HIE Caithness and Sutherland.
Local businessman John Sutherland plans to develop a £2.3million purpose-built abattoir on the outskirts of Keiss, eight miles north of Wick. Mr Sutherland bought Wick's existing slaughtering facility in 2003 but as it has been in operation since 1874 and the building no longer meets the legislative standards required by the local authority...........As well as providing around 15 full-time jobs the facility has the potential to encourage more Caithness farmers to finish animals locally, adding value to the product within the local economy. Around 70 per cent of all cattle and sheep are transported out of the Highlands for finishing but it's estimated that farmers have spare stocking capacity which could be used for finishing locally. The new premises will also provide a local slaughtering option, reducing the need for animals to be transported longer distances with advantages for quality, health and wealth.

Unemployment Lower In HIE Area Than A Year Ago - See Items In Business Index
The December 2006 unemployment figures were released on 17th January 2007. During the month, November 2006 to December 2006, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Great Britain rose by 0.2%, from 895,833 to 897,758 (1,925 claimants). This figure is higher than December last year, where the number of claimants stood at 865,512, an increase of 3.7% (32,246 claimants).
The HIE area witnessed an increase in its unemployment rate during the month, rising 2.8% from 5,717 to 5,878 claimants (161 claimants). This figure is lower than December last year, where the total claimants stood at 6,175, a decrease of 4.8% (297 claimants).  Numbers of long term unemployed in Highland are down although static in Caithness and Sutherland.  Despite reducing slightly in December the Wick travel to work area remains the highest unemployment area at 3.9% 
We think that is high but see EU Unemployment

Highlands Set For Faroese Tourism Boost
A joint marketing campaign between The Highland Council and VisitScotland could see between 5 - 6,000 cruise passengers from Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway visiting the North of Scotland and generating around £2.5 million to the Highland economy. Faroese ferry operators, Smyril Line, have just launched their 2007 brochure featuring holiday packages to the Scottish Highlands. The 1,800 passenger vessel will make weekly visits to the Caithness port of Scrabster starting mid-June and running through to the end of August.............The familiarisation visit took in Inverness, Loch Ness, Skye, Ullapool, North West Highlands Geopark, Thurso, Castle of Mey, Wick, Dornoch, Falls of Shin and Nairn.

Advice For The Lambing Season Aimed At Pregnant Women
Pregnant women in the Highlands are being urged to avoid close contact with sheep during the lambing season. Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Harry Burns said pregnant women who came into close contact with sheep during lambing might be risking their health and the health of their unborn child. This is because infections such as chlamydiosis (enzootic abortion of ewes - EAE), toxoplasmosis and listeriosis - all common causes of abortion in ewes - can be passed on to them.

Media can play role in reducing suicides in the Highlands
THE second phase of a campaign to reduce the number of suicides in the Highlands is under way.
Suicide rates in the region have been consistently higher than the Scottish average despite. There are signs of progress and whilst this is an encouraging trend, work to reduce suicides over time must continue.

1st Thurso Girls Brigade - Can You Help Restart This Group?
In our forum right now an attempt is being made to find out if there is sufficient interest and potential help to restart this group.

£517 Million Budget Recommended For 2007-2008 For Highland Council
The Highland Council will be asked on Thursday (1st February) to set a budget of £517 million for 2007-08 which will represent a 5.3% increase on the £491 million of 2006-07. The Council’s Budget Working Group, chaired by Vice Convener, Councillor Michael Foxley has recommended a package of measures which balance growth in the Education, Social Work and Transport, Environmental and Community Services budgets with a programme of efficiencies and savings. The Council will set the Council Tax on Thursday 8th February. The current Band D payment is £1,135.

Dornoch Rail Link Action Group Submission
in response to the HITRANS draft regional transport strategy

"We ask for immediate and clear recognition of the necessity of rail upgrades to Caithness and Sutherland, and look forward to clear definite commitments to the Dornoch Link, and other Far North Line improvements, in the formal issue of the HITRANS regional transport strategy to the Scottish Executive"
The North Line

A Country Burns Supper - In Caithness

Yes they Are Still Surfing At Thurso East - Even In January!!
See the latest clip.

Gibson Warns Of Olympics Raid
Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson says the Big Lottery Fund in Scotland should not have to gamble on its funds being raided to pay for the London Olympics. Mr Gibson words come as news emerges that Sir Clive Booth the director of the Big Lottery Fund in England claimed that “dark forces in Whitehall” are going to use lottery monies to plug the Olympics black hole. Mr Gibson said that the money people seek to spend all over Scotland was put to better use than a one off show piece event, "This money directly changes people's lives. Major land buyouts throughout the Highlands and Islands have been financed by the lottery. While numerous urban and rural projects have benefited.

Castletown Heritage Society - Winter 2006 - 2007 Newsletter
The newsletter includes details of photos sent from Canada, details of Sinclairs from New Zealand with roots in Caithness, A weekly work night at Castlehill, looking back at events in 2006 and looking forward to Highland 2007 events.

Saturday 17th February at Dunbeath Community Centre - 09.30am – 4.15pm

A training and information event on polytunnel and outdoor cropping.
Visit to ‘Food for Thought’, Spittal in the afternoon courtesy of Douglas Henderson
Attendance free — all welcome. Light lunch provided. Assistance with child care costs available on request
Organised by the Scottish Crofting Foundation, Initiative at the Edge and the Crofters Commission with assistance from Scottish Agricultural College. These events are funded by the Crofters Commission, SAC, HIE and the European Social Fund. Prior registration necessary.
Contact Eric Larnach 01593 731455

Record Number Of New Homes Built In 2006 - 138 New Homes Completed In Caithness In 2006
A report published by The Highland Council shows that a record number of new homes were built in the Highlands with 1,688 new houses completed - a rise of 26% compared with the 2005 figure of 1,344. This steep rise follows the steady increases seen in previous years. The largest increases in housing development between 2005 and 2006 were in Badenoch and Strathspey, Inverness, Lochaber and Caithness.
Housing Completions 2006 - Pdf

Caithness Rabbit Fanciers Association
A new web site for the Caithness Rabbit Fanciers Association that was recently formed for people who keep rabbits in Caithness.  If you are looking for the web site later you will find it linked in our Animal Welfare and Caithness Sites sections.  The association already has Rabbit Show planned for April and is running a Car Boot Sale on Sunday 4th February to raise funds


4th Wick Guides Burns Supper

Thurso “Spoked Wheels” Stone (by Geoff Leet)
From the 2006 Bulletin of Caithness Field Club
Some thoughts on spoked wheels portrayed in stone.



Wick Beavers, Scouts and Explorers will resume as normal - Monday 29 January

A Carved “Celtic” Head (by Les Myatt) - From Caithness field Club Bulletin 2006
The photograph shows a carved pebble, with a head, which was found at Castletown just above the high water mark. The pebble measures 7" x 4". A photograph was sent to the National Museum in Edinburgh where we were told that the tradition of these heads starts in the Iron Age and runs up to the present day. It is essentially undatable and is probably not Celtic. Apparently a similar pebble head was found on the beach at Portmahomack where it is now in the museum.  2006 Caithness Field Club Bulletin   Bulletin Articles List

Sunday Papers
Tiny Tain faces supermarket sweep - Scotsman
With Wick already seeing an influx of new shops and Thurso awaiting a public enquiry on the ASDA planning application are Caithness towns in the same position as Tain.  Councillors have planning applications for Tain from ASDA and Lidl next week and apparently Tesco also interested in coming to the town that has a population of  3972.

From The 2007 SNH Calendar Added To Highland Views
These photos are from the 2007 SNH Calendar that cost only £5.
These three photos are Beinn Eighe, Knockan Crag and Rum.


Scallywags Nursery Opens New Building And Its Great
The new Scallywags Nursery at Crossroads school, Dunnet has capacity for 15 children and currently has 10.  Despite the past couple of years of uncertainty regarding the sustainability of some rural nurseries the committee of Scallywags has shown that it is viable and that there are sufficient children in the area to make use of the facility.  Indeed 2007 - 2008 already looks very good with 10 children having already been identified as likely users of the new unit. Congratulations to all concerned in bringing this project into being for the families of Dunnet. Caithness Nurseries & Play Groups

Wick Business Park Gets Two More New Buildings In Latest Expansion
Work is going on fast at the latest extensions to Wick Business Park.  With the recent uptake in the existing buildings Highlands and Islands Enterprise have decided to invest in a further two buildings taking the total on site to five.  The latest new units will have solar panels and two wind turbines on each building.  With this new capacity expected to be completed depending on weather by the end of June it is yet another boost for Wick. Wick is expanding out on this road with the new Tesco looking to have yet another new shopping complex next to it built by Scapa Properties as announced recently. With the latest two new units at the Business Park adding to the flow of work it seems that Wick's expansion is still rolling on.  The potential in the latest two units is for a further 80 jobs once suitable companies are found.

Buolfruich Wind Farm, Dunbeath
Three photos of Buolfruich Wind Farm and couple to show where the photos was taken from on the A99.  The first three photos were taken - No Zoom, Part Zoom and Full Zoom on the camera.  A couple of photos looking towards Dunbeath Village are added to give you some idea of where the photos were taken from on the A99 before you reach the Escape Bed.  There are 15 Turbines at Buolfruich.  Wind Index

2007 Wick Gala 28 July - 4 August 2007
Dates for your diary. Other Galas, Highland Games and Shows are being added as we are notified.

Joint Committee On Children And Young People Meets Today
This committee of Highland council meets regularly but does not often figure in news stories despite the fact it deals with many important issues that affect children, young people and their families. The Joint Committee on Children and Young People seeks to enable children and young people to achieve their full potential, by improving services for children, young people and families and promoting their participation in decision making, paying particular attention to children in need and young people who are socially excluded and to develop, implement and review the Children’s Services Plan and to recommend the Plan and associated Local Outcome Agreement for approval to the Council and its partners.  This committee has representatives from the Highland Council and NHS Highland.  Councillor David Flear (Caithness Central) is a member of the committee and Councillor Bill Fernie (Wick West) as the nominated Caithness Children's Champion attends these meetings.

A Boost To Coaching In Caithness
For the third year running NUKEM at Dounreay, has not only supported but increased its contribution to the coaching grant of the Caithness Sports Council. The cheque for £2,000 was presented to Caithness Sports Council Chairman Roger Saxon (right in picture) by NUKEM’s Director of Operations & Commercial, Keith Collett. NUKEM’s Head of Site at Dounreay, Alan Gerrard said, “We are delighted to support the Caithness Sports Council in this way. It is important to have qualified coaches in clubs who can train and develop individuals who wish to participate in sport either recreationally or competitively. Voluntary sports clubs are constantly faced with increasing costs in training coaches and we hope this support goes some way to assist them.”

Isolation Of Dounreay's Shaft Commences
Dounreay has started drilling up to 400 boreholes around the site's waste shaft in the biggest step so far towards its eventual clean-out.
Grout will be injected through the boreholes to seal fissures in the rock around the 65 metre deep shaft and so create a giant containment barrier in the shape of a boot around the shaft that will isolate the radioactive waste from groundwater. The project - the first of its kind in the world - will prevent large volumes of groundwater flowing into the shaft during waste retrieval and becoming contaminated. It will also reduce the risk of leakage from the shaft in the interim.   Recent Photos From Dounreay   More About The Shaft  UKAEA On
UKAEA In Caithness Business section   UKAEA Dounreay Web Site    Video Presentation On The Shaft

Dounreay Bulletin - Issue 19
Items in this months bulletin -

Site Reduces Expenditure to Meet NDA Shortfall - Dounreay Begins Isolation of Waste Shaft - Planning Consent for Major New Waste Treatment Plant
Former Plutonium Facility Nearly Ready for Demolition - Pond Clean-Out Moves into Next Phase - It's Snowing at PFR - NII Serves Improvement Notices on UKAEA - Extension to LLW Disposal Facilities Planning Application - Dounreay Prototype Fast Reactor Coming Apart - Report Published on Unusual Find
Over 70 Attend Particle Exhibitions - Support for Samaritans.

Pàrantan a' tadhal na Sgoile Gàidhlig Ùir
Tha togail Bunsgoil Ghàidhlig Inbhir Nis a' tighinn air adhart gu math air an làraich faisg air Acadamaidh Rìoghail Inbhir Nis. Disathairne (20mh Faoilleach), thadhail pàrantan agus Comann nam Pàrant san Eadar-ama air an sgoil còmhla ris a' Cheannard a tha air a h-ùr fhastadh. Bidh an sgoil fosgailte do sgoilearan san Lùnastal 2007.
Parents visit new Gaelic School
Construction of the new Gaelic School, Bunsgoil Ghàidhlig Inbhir Nis, is well underway on its site near Inverness Royal Academy. On Saturday (20th January), parents on the Interim Parent Council visited the school, along with the newly appointed Head Teacher, which is due to open to pupils in August 2007.

2007 Highland Book Awards - See What Highland Children Will Be Reading This Year
Over the next few months pupils will be able to post reviews of the books they read from the list on the Highland Schools virtual library website. In April a short-list will be drawn up and voting will take place to find the overall winners in the picture book, 8+ and 12+ categories. The results will be announced at an award ceremony held at the end of the summer term. Books have been donated by 16 different children's publishers. On the list are 57 books in the Picture Book category; 41 books in the 8+ category and 61 books in the 12+ category.

Successful Christmas Raffle for Playbox PlayGroup
Playbox Playgroup and Mother and Toddler group would like to thank everyone who supported their Christmas Raffle. Thanks to the local shops who provided prizes and also to everyone who bought tickets. The playgroup made just under £900 from this raffle which is much appreciated as we are a charity run playgroup.............From Erica Macleod

Councillors Go for Lower Rent Rise Option For Highland
Members of the Highland Council's Housing and Social Work Committee agreed on Wednesday 24 January 2006 to increase the Council's housing debt to keep Council rent increases to just under 5%. From April 2007 to March 2008, Highland Council's housing tenants will see their rents rise by 4.9%. The increase also applies to service charges, garage and garage site rentals, hostel rentals, homeless charges, rechargeable repairs and Gypsy/Traveller pitches, except charges for energy which will follow market rates of inflation. In recent years council house rent increases have been set at the Retail Price Index (RPI) + 1%, and the Council has funded a Capital Programme of around £14million annually, largely funded through income generated through sales of council houses under the Right to Buy. The Council is now faced with the lower incomes as a result of a recent, significant drop in council house sales at the same time as its investment requirements have increased, as currently it is required to improve all of its houses to meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard by 2015. This forces the Council to consider taking on new borrowing to fund investment. To make up for the drop in house sale receipts, members were asked to decide between a higher 7.4% increase in rents with a resultant lower borrowing figure of £1.976million to the Council or a lower 4.9% rent increase with a higher £2.966 million borrowing figure. Members approved the lower rent increase to tenants funded through borrowing..................more

MSPs DELIGHT AT MINISTER'S ANNOUNCEMENT - No Post Office Closures in 38 Postcode Districts
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Peter Peacock has welcomed reassurance from Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling there would be no further closures of post offices in 38 postcode districts, 37 of which are in Scotland. This follows the publication last month of a DTI consultation on the future of post offices. Both the National Federation of Sub-postmasters and the cross party group of MPs who looked at the issue viewed the present post office provision as unsustainable. Mr Peacock commented, "This is a significant reassurance. 37 of the 38 post code district are in Scotland, with the majority being in the Highlands, in areas such as Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, Ross, Skye and Lochaber, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross and Argyll and Bute. Within these areas post offices will be protected under new rules which set out a minimum standard for future coverage.

Winter In Caithness & Sutherland
Loch Of Mey In The Pink
Thanks to Graham Maharg for these photos of the Loch of Mey at Sunset now added to our winter collection.  The far north has avoided the snow for the past couple of days but these photos certainly show yet again the incredible light that exists in the far north at certain times.  How many people would think of pink as being a Caithness colour.  Grham Maharg has web site for his book the Loch of Mey Monster

Jobs - Vacancies - Employment In Caithness
Qualified Motor Vehicle Technicians at both Wick and Thurso
Environmental Scientist    Research Co-ordinator/Administrator
Invigilators - North Highland College    Instrument Technician (3 - 6 Months)
Design Draughtsperson  Electronics Engineer
Employers can place job ads FREE in our Jobs pages

FORTHCOMING SEMINAR AT THE ERI- 5:00pm Thursday 01 February 2007
Harmful algal blooms in Scottish waters

Dr. Keith Davidson - Scottish Association for Marine Science, Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory
Harmful marine phytoplankton are of increasing concern worldwide. Some species are of concern through their toxin production and the resultant shellfish poisoning of humans and other mammals. Other organisms may be harmful to wild or farmed fish and the benthic environment. In this presentation the presence and monitoring of harmful phytoplankton in Scottish waters will be reviewed and some recent developments in Scottish harmful algal research will be discussed.

Caithness Partnership Wants Local People To Have A Say In Planning Local Services During 2007

An innovative new training scheme to improve people’s understanding of the Scottish Standards of Community Engagement is just one of a series of events that will be held across Caithness in 2007 as part of a national programme sponsored by the Carnegie UK Trust to investigate new ways of getting people living in rural areas involved in community planning.......see how you can get involved by email or in person

Burns Day
We know that some of you will be attending Burns Nights around the country and here is link to the Burns page of the Scotland's People web site.  On the site we also have some poetry in the Burns style but in Caithness dialect and you can find these in the Caithness Poets section.  Some use a similar theme to Burns as in Jenny Stewart's "E Moose"  You will find the Burns version below it.  For all things Robert Burns try the official Robert Burns web site  For more links and timeline try our Burn's Links If you would like to attend a Burn's night in Caithness you have a choice of Freswick Burns Supper on Friday or Burns Quiz at Wick Dounreay Club at 8.30pm.  Or you can head over to Strathy Hall on Saturday night for another Burns Supper   Link straight To The Robert Burns Poems   Haggis Heuchs By Jenny Stewart 
Clapshot By W T Lyall (nothing to do with Burns but we are not too worried)

Labour Field Candidates In all Seats In Caithness For May 2007 Elections
Scottish Labour looking to sweep the board by standing candidates in all of the new Caithness council wards to add to their candidates for MSP and a list candidate for the Scottish Parliament. Candidates with a wealth of experience in local government will contest every seat in the new-look Highland Council. They will join Scottish Parliament prospective candidates John McKendrick, who is bidding to become the next MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, and Bilbster's Simon Harrison, a candidate on the Labour list for second votes, on the local campaign trail. In the Council Wards the current councillor Roger Saxon will stand in Thurso, with former councillors Jim Oag in Wick and Bill Mowat in Caithness Landward throwing their hats back in the ring.....more
Elections 2007 - We are adding information about the elections as it comes in.

Winter Here In The North Spreads Its Icy Grasp But Little Snow Yet

Remember to click through to the Full Size Image

Museums Partnership Tours Hidden Scottish Treasures - At Swanson Gallery, Thurso
Now at Swanson Gallery, Thurso until 17 February.
Anatomy Acts is an exploration of the human body, inside and out. 
After its successful opening at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh, (5 stars - Scotsman, 'richest, most challenging historic recent years' - Herald) an adapted version of Anatomy Acts is touring to venues across Scotland, coming to the Highlands in January 2007. From centuries old anatomical drawings to contemporary art and newly commissioned poetry, from wax models to modern imaging technologies, Anatomy Acts is a visual feast fusing art, science, history and medicine. Anatomy Acts forms part of the Scotland & Medicine: Collections & Connections Partnership  Anatomy Acts is supported by an online exhibition 
In addition, 2 workshops are being planned at Swanson Gallery:
Tue 6th Feb 7-9pm - Anatomy of the Face - appropriate to Higher students and interested adults
Thu 13th Feb 7-8.30pm - lecture by Kathleen Jamie, poet. Kathleen's poems are part of the exhibition, accompanying a number of the exhibits - appropriate to Higher English students and interested adults.
Click Here For Larger Versions Of The Illustrations  Get along to this unusual and interesting exhibition.

Rob Gibson MSP Warns On The Rising Pull Of The Supermarkets
Rob Gibson MSP SNP for the Highlands and Islands has warned that High Streets across the region are in deep trouble through the pull of the big four supermarkets. His words come in the wake of a report from the Federation of Small Businesses which shows that 73% of people in Dingwall shopped less in the town centre since the opening of Tesco. Mr Gibson, who recently gave evidence to the Competition Commission hearing in Edinburgh on its investigation into the dominance of the big supermarkets, said that while he recognised that people wanted and deserved choice of goods, in the long run supermarkets may reduce real choice............. I believe that Thurso and Wick as well as Tain will soon experience the same trend. Given that state of affairs it would seem extremely unwise to plan for three major supermarkets to be situated in Tain because the effects on Ardgay, Bonar Bridge and even Dornoch could be serious. This has far reaching consequences for rural areas in the North."........................more

Sarclet Loch Looking Ice Cold Round The Edges
Thanks to Bob Ives for this photos of Sarclet Loch looking eerily silent and cold.  A change from the spring and summer months when the model yacht club are out with their boats. I anyone would like to share their photos for our Winter in Caithness 2007 series email them to   The Caithness Snow Photos in 2006 ended up with 326 photos and with snow already dusting the county we may yet see another influx for this years winter gallery.

John McKendrick, Labour candidate for the forthcoming Holyrood election met this Monday with local NDA chief, John Farquhar. John McKendrick is gravely concerned by the NDA’s management of their budget and the failure to foresee the current possible cuts to the decommissioning budget. In his meeting with Mr. Farquhar he praised him for his prompt and direct meetings with those affected but expressed his concerns that the situation at Dounreay was both too serious and too delicate to be damaged by the difficulties with the NDA budgeting process. John McKendrick urged Mr. Farquhar that he should do all he can to ensure monies within the NDA budget are ring-fenced to protect Dounreay.
Nuclear clean-up cash crisis puts 3,000 jobs in jeopardy Independent - 7 January 07
NDA shortfall Puts 3000 Jobs At Risk - Times & Star  - 12 January 07

UKAEA, Dounreay Gains Outline Planning Permission
For Intermediate Level Waste Cementation Plant and Store

At a planning meeting in Assembly Rooms, Wick yesterday 22 January 2007 councillors granted outline planning permission for a new intermediate level waste cementation plant and store, export facility for contaminated material, cask store and temporary accommodation.  There had been only one letter of objection from a member of the public but public agencies were satisfied with the proposals.  Items stored with the Intermediate Level Waste store are be removed within 100 years but low level waste is not intended to be retrieved. The three new buildings represent the final major developments within the 2005 - 2010 (Phase 1) period identified in the Dounreay Planning Framework published in January 2006.
See Dounreay Site Overview Showing New Facilities and Others Currently Under Construction
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority - Socio Economic Policy Draft Strategy - Dounreay - this consultation closed on 19 January 2007
Dounreay given go-ahead to construct £100m plant - Herald 23 Jan 2007
£100m Dounreay waste store plan wins approval - Scotsman 23 Jan 2007
John Ross In his article in the Scotsman today writes "However, doubt remains on whether the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) will release the funds to allow the work to start on time".

Old Castletown Church To Be Demolished For New Flats
Councillors at a planning meeting in Assembly Rooms, Wick yesterday, 22 January 2007, granted planning permission to Norscot Joinery to build four blocks of flats comprising 16 houses.  The former church had been used for many years as a builders store.  The church was described by Castletown Heritage memebr Muriel Murray  on her "Kirkular Tour" of the area last October as an example of a double gabled church in the Caithness style built in 1843.  There were no objections from any of the public agencies or the public.  One of the recommendations in granting the application was that the developer used local stone in the detailing of the building.  The Castletown Community Council has welcomed the new development for much needed low cost housing in the town.

Thurso Youth Club is a voluntary organisation and registered charity providing a wide range of activities for the benefit of young people in Thurso and the surrounding areas. At present the club is in desperate need of volunteers to join the management committee to keep the club operational.  It cannot run itself and needs community involvement to ensure its maximum potential is released. The committee meets five times a year and has overall responsibility for the management and development of the club. If you can help to keep the club open, please come along to Thurso Youth Clubs Annual General meeting on Monday 29th January 2007 at 7pm, in the club premises at Old Mill, Millbank Road. For more information telephone Angela Alexander or Chris Connolly on 01847 895782

Caithness Winter Photos 2007 - Send Your In When The Icy Weather Comes Your Way
Winter appears to be coming in with colder weather and Colin Bird has sent the first few wintry Caithness photos.  If you want to add to this gallery email photos to
If Sutherland folk want to join in we will set up a Sutherland winter section.

BREATH OF FRESH AIR - Generation health gap
Men and women in their 60s could be the last generation of fit grandparents, according to a new survey. While the Government is faced with rising childhood obesity due to poor diet and lack of exercise and millions of men and women in their 30s and 40s becoming increasingly sedentary, over-65s are fitter than ever. Great Britain's grandparents are spending around 40 hours a week gardening, playing sport, walking, cleaning and doing home improvements. Housework, home improvements and DIY take up most of the day for over 65s.

Murkle Bowling Club Annual Open Competition 2007
This annual competition was this year won by a family team from Wick representing the Town and County Club, who incidentally provide both teams to reach this years final. The runners up this year were John Gunn, Robbie Tait, James MacKay and Andrew Manson (Skip). This year's eventual winners after a closely contested final were Bunty Cormack, Derry Cormack, Sandra Grant and Brian Cormack (Skip). An enjoyable day was had by all who attended and Murkle Bowling Club once again extend their gratitude to the Royal British Legion for offering the use of the facilities to enable this very successful competition to continue.

Castletown Heritage Web Site Gets Major Update
The Castletown Heritage Society web site has just been updated with lots of new material showing their plans for the future for their new centre at Castelhill.  The ambitious plans include using renewable energy in several forms.  The January newsletter is also on the web site.  The web site is definitely going to grow and has some interesting items already in place including a downloadable version of Castletown Recalls 1939 - 1945 by Andrew Guttridge covering the RAF period during the war. Take look to see just how a group of volunteers can make an impact on their town.

WICK Beavers, Scouts and Explorers have been cancelled TONIGHT
Work is still going at the Scout Hall.  Cubs still go swimming we understand from last weeks message.

Caithness Field Club First Walk Of 2007 At Rumster Forest
Field Club members set out on their first walk of 2007 on beautiful morning with the sun shining.  The small amount of now was crisp underfoot and made ideal conditions for walking along the tracks of the forest. the forest has a large number of long houses and some are easily visible at the old crofting village of Golsary.  Many of the houses were lived in until 1947 when it was all taken over for forestry.  At Golsary a broch sits behind on of the houses.  One of the houses also has a fine example of a drying kiln.  The walkers also took quick look at the burnt out remains of the Rumster Outdoor Centre that had been unused for some years and was burnet down in 2006.  The walk that was just over 4 miles took about two and a half hours and members made it back to the cars just as the first icy rain of the day made an appearance  - perfect timing.

Annual Treat For Pensioner At Assembly Rooms, Wick
150 pensioners gathered in assembly rooms Wick for the annual treat of a meal with entertainment on Wednesday evening.  For many years a committee of volunteers has organised the annual treat.  The committee calls on wide range of individuals and businesses to contribute or assist in many ways to pull the evening together.  The meal with wine or whisky miniatures, present for everyone and many other prizes and donations of a wide variety of food, cakes, tins of biscuits and much more is testament to the generosity of local businesses and people in the area.  Volunteers also work in the kitchen and act as waiting staff to deliver the meals etc.  Wick Rotary Club provides transport for anyone who needs it to and from the Assembly Rooms ans some also help at the event. Entertainment came from a number of groups including Addie Harper and friends, Wick Pipe Band and others. Well done to all concerned.

Homelessness - Councillors To Consider Changes To Rules Next Week - Pdf
At the meeting of the Housing and Social Work Committee on 24th January councillors will consider changes to increase the numbers of people in priority need to reflect changes being introduced by the Scottish Executive in 2012.  the paper under consideration includes - Homelessness – an update on the abolition of priority need and the 2009 targets, Communities Scotland Inspection of Homeless Service and the consultation on the modification of local connection provision in Homelessness Legislation.

Councillors Quiz Proposed Changes To The Postal Services
Following the Government's announcement in December that 2,500 urban and rural post offices across the UK will close, The Highland Council invited representatives from five organisations with interests in the mail network, including the Department of Trade and Industry, to meet with them before the Council's deadline for submitting a formal response to the consultation. Currently there are 1,676 post office branches in Scotland, 205 of which are located in the Highlands. Of these, 6 are urban and 199 are rural. According to statistics from Post Office Limited, 35% of Scottish branches have less than 100 customers a week and across the UK 4 million fewer people are using the Post Office than two years ago.

Walk In Rumster Forest - Sunday 21st January
A Caithness Field Club walk to blow away the cobwebs. Sunday 21st Jan - A winter walk in Rumster Forest leaving Wick and Thurso 10.00am. - meeting at the Forest car park 10.30am.  Everyone welcome - no dogs.  Lifts often available from Wick and Thurso and car sharing encouraged.  Make sure you wear good footwear - boots, wellies etc.

Highland Council Considers Council House Rent Levels
Members of Highland Council's Housing and Social Work Committee are to consider the level of Council house rent increases and the housing capital programme at their meeting on 24 January 2007. Highland Councillors are being asked to consider increasing the Council's debt in order to avoid swingeing rent increases for council house tenants. Following the vote by tenants against housing transfer they were to be faced with rent rises of 7.4%. Now Highland Councillors are being asked to consider using their prudential borrowing powers to fund part of the housing investment programme, in order to keep rent rises to just under 5%.

Kent DuChaine Fantastic Bluesman Returns To Mackays Hotel Saturday 20 January
Kent DuChaine is making his third trip to Mackays Hotel, Wick so he obviously likes coming this far north. This bluesman is in demand all over the place in the USA and Europe and it is huge bonus that he loves the area and is playing in Wick on Saturday night.  He is virtuoso performer on his steel guitar and he plays it in a way few people have heard in the north.  From a tiny audience at his first Mackays gig it grew considerably at the last one a few months ago but there was still room.  If you want to see a performance with some unusual songs from a master of the blues head along to Mackays on Saturday night.  Even if you think blues music is not your thing you will be surprised how infectious Kent Duchaines style is not to mention his constant flow if stories along with the songs.  You are guaranteed a good night out.  More about Kent DuChaine

Development of Intermediate Level Waste Cementation Plant And Store - Planning Meeting
Another notable application to be heard by the Caithness Planning committee on Monday 22 January is an application to build a new facility in connection with the decommissioning work at UKAEA Dounreay.

Application To Demolish The Old Brewery, Thurso To Be Heard At Planning Meeting On Monday
This Thurso landmark may have reached the end of the road and councillors will decide its fate on Monday 22 January at the Planning meeting in Assembly Rooms, Wick.  Application is made for Listed Building Consent to demolish the brewery building at the corner of Mansons Lane and Riverside Place in Thurso. The building is in a perilous state of repair and evidence has been submitted by the applicant to demonstrate that it is beyond repair. Evidence has also been submitted detailing efforts which have been made over the years to try to find a use for the property but all of these efforts have proved fruitless. The applicant O'Brien Construction has submitted significant evidence that the building is beyond repair and has also submitted evidence of the efforts made to find a use for the building over the last 20 or so years.
Old Brewery Photo Full Size   Full Planning Meeting Agenda for Monday 22 January 2007

A New Service For Caithness To Help Get Around And Reduce Transport Costs
Journeyshare Caithness
is a completely free car sharing scheme for members of the public in and around Caithness.  The service is free for anyone to use and aims to help reduce CO2 emissions and help people make savings in their travel costs by car sharing where possible and is an important new travel option for all in and around Caithness.  The more people who sign up the more chance there is of finding someone to share lifts. You are free to refuse any offers and the sing up process does not let anyone know who you are until you get in touch about a specific lift share. HITRANS were getting a kicking in a story further down the page on Caithness Transport issues but we think they have come up with a very good idea here.  This new web site has been created for HITRANS by the same group that have launched where you can sign up for lift shares in other parts of the UK and possibly longer journeys.

And the winner is...Frances Purves from Wick, Caithness

Fairy's search to find the most Helpful Hands in Britain, in support of Make-A-Wish has now come to an end, and Fairy is delighted to reveal one of the finalists. Hundreds of people across Britain have been nominating their friends, family and colleagues to thank them for their care and in the hope that they would be crowned the most Helpful Hands in Britain. The entries were whittled down to 12 lucky winners, who will all receive one of 12 Fairy Wishes.....Proud winner of the glamorous £400 shopping spree with personal shopper, Frances Purves works in charity shops and dedicates most of her time to helping others. She regularly drives disabled people around and has started a heart disease support group as well working in hospital radio, in order to ensure the people who need the most love and attention feel cared for....more

ACUPUNCTURE HELPS MORE PATIENTS - NHS Highland Offers More Acupuncture than Ever Before
An increasing number of NHS Highland patients are enjoying blissful relief from pain thanks to an ancient Chinese medicine. Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of medicine. It has been used in China for over 3,000 years and within the NHS since the 1950s. There are 30 Chartered Physiotherapists using Acupuncture within NHS Highland, in Caithness, Sutherland, Ross-shire, Lochaber, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey and Inverness. They all have to maintain and update their skills regularly and have all completed Post-Graduate training in Acupuncture.

Due To Removal of A Bus Service A Young Person Needs Transport - Can You Help?
Unfortunately the removal of recently set up bus service has left one young person without the ability to get to Wick for part time work and educational course already started.  If any local person regularly travels the route from Lybster to Wick at any of the times below get in touch with Bill Fernie or Eric Larnach the development officer for South East Caithness Development Group.
The time transport is required are as follows:
Wednesday - Wick to Lybster leaving around 8.15pm
Thursday - Lybster to Wick leaving around 6.30pm
Thursday - Wick to Lybster leaving around 8.15pm
Saturday - Wick to Lybster leaving around 8.15pm
It is hoped that in the new financial year the bus service might be resumed but it will perhaps come to late for this young person trying hard to work and gain education.

Caithness Transport Forum Disappointed With HITRANS Strategy Document
As Caithness Issues Ignored

Community leaders in Caithness have expressed their dismay that the county’s transport problems have been virtually disregarded in the recent draft Regional Transport Strategy. The draft Transport Strategy for the Highlands & Islands prepared by HITRANS was discussed by the Caithness Transport Forum at a recent meeting and members were angry that Caithness had been overlooked.  Chairman of the Forum, Councillor John Green, said:” Despite earlier submissions made to HITRANS highlighting the transport issues in the far north, many that need to be dealt with urgently, it is very disappointing to see that Caithness has been almost totally ignored in this version of the Regional Transport Strategy.  Even the A99, which the AA lists as one of the most dangerous roads in the UK, barely gets a mention.  So far there is no obvious attempt to look to the county’s future requirements in this document suggesting a lack of input from the north.”
The HITRANS consultation is open for comments until 31 January 2007.

Images Of Britain

Here are few great Scottish photos from this recently published book.

The Commonwealth Foundation has announced that the Commonwealth Arts and Crafts Awards 2007 are now open for application. Artists and crafts people from all commonwealth countries are encouraged to enter the awards, and from mid 2007 as many as ten winners will receive a grant of up to £8,000 to travel and study in another Commonwealth country. The Awards are built around two-way sharing.

Friday 19th January 2pm - 5pm - Friday 19th January 6pm - 9pm - Saturday 20th January 2pm - 6pm
A COME and TRY opportunity for both Indoor and Outdoor Bowls. Enjoy yourself in a relaxed atmosphere, in the comfort of a warm hall, with support provided by our local club coaches. Just drop in anytime during the designated times. Tea/Coffee and biscuits provided. This event is FREE and EVERYONE is WELCOME.
This event is being run as part of Healthy Highland Week 2007

The Economics of Building a Nuclear Power Plant in Fresno - SF Bay Area Independent Media Center
This item by by Alan Cheah and Mark Stout appeared yesterday and although it looks the American position the parallels make interesting reading for any looking at the nuclear versus alternative energy debate. According to the graphs provided alternative energy costs including wind, pv, geothermal, solar thermal and bio-mass have fallen with wind power apparently having made the greatest leaps in reducing production costs.  Perhaps there is fresh information here for the current debates going on in The Forum.

FREE CV Workshops In Wick And Thurso
Careers Scotland offer FREE CV workshops in Wick and Thurso
NEW YEAR - facing changes? Is the thought of creating a CV putting you off applying for a job?
Don't have a clue where to start?
Come along to one of our free sessions:
Pentland Hotel, Thurso - Tuesday 23 January - 1.00pm - 2.30pm or 6.00pm - 7.30pm
Norseman Hotel, Wick - Wednesday 24 January - 1.00pm -2.30pm or 6.00pm-7.30pm
Please contact Maureen Whale on 01847 805208 to reserve a place.

Thurso based photographer John Baikie has capped off an amazing year by lifting the UK Photographer of the Year in the wedding portfolio category in the annual SWPP awards, presented at the society's convention in London this week. The Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers are widely accepted as the biggest organisation in the UK and held a huge event in the capital last week, which saw 4600 attendees from all over the world descend on the Novotel Hotel in Hammersmith to attend seminars by some of the biggest names in the world of photography.

Nearly 4000 Visitors A Day Check The What's On - Is Your Caithness or Sutherland Event Listed?
Like other parts of the web site the What's On section continues to hit new records for visitors with many folk now taking a look to find out what is happening in the area.  Both locals and visitors now browse the What's On for dates of events, where to get tickets and so on.  Currently there are over 260 items listed.  The section is FREE and easy to use by completing the Online Form with details of you event. Within a couple of minutes your event can have weeks or months of FREE advertising.  The sooner an event is in the better. All event appear on this page on the day of the event as final reminder to everyone.  List your event now.

Forest Walk By Forestry Commission - Braehour Forest 1.5miles South of Westerdale
22 January  - 10.00am - 12.00pm
As Part of the Forestry Commissions Active Woods Campaign & Healthy Highland Activities come and join the Local Forester For a walk and Talk in the Forest and find out what's going on in the Forests of the Far North. Length of Walk approx 3 miles. A good chance to walk off some of the excesses from the festive period. Or just to get out there and get some fresh air and exercise. Car parking just outside the Forest. Wrap up with warm Clothing. Bring a Packed lunch.

A Geological Tour of the North (by Jack Saxon)
Another article from the 2006 Bulletin of Caithness Field Club by the late Jack Saxon - one of the founder members of the Field Club and an editor of the Bulletin for several years..  This text was prepared by the late Jack Saxon as a guide to the interesting places to visit in Caithness and North Sutherland and added as an article by the current editor Ken Butler.
The geology of Caithness is essentially that of cyclic sedimentary rocks deposited in playa lakes and desert sequences. The rocks were laid down in Devonian times, about 370 million years ago, in a great basin named the Orcadian Lake, The basement and margins consist of crystalline and metamorphic rocks. Frequently the sedimentary rocks contain barren breccias and mudstones derived from these crystalline precursors. This guide has been written to let the visitor know where typical rocks and fossils can be found.
An obituary to Jack Saxon come also from the 2006 Bulletin  The Field Club Bulletins contain many articles by Jack Saxon.

Bowel Cancer UK launches innovative breakfast fundraising event
Bowel Cancer UK, the leading national bowel cancer charity, has launched Burns’ Breakfast, a fundraising initiative running between 20th and 28th January 2007, to coincide with Scotland’s Robert Burns’ Day, held on January 25th each year. Porridge is the main feature of Burns’ Breakfast - making apt use of the celebrated poet’s fondness for that most healthy of breakfast foods, which Burns himself described as “chief o’ Scotia’s food”.................Every year over 35,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer - that's someone every 15 minutes. Scotland has the highest rate of bowel cancer per head of population in the UK and one of the highest in Europe. It is the third most common cancer in Scotland for both men and women: approximately 3,500 cases are diagnosed each year............more

A Brief Look At Poolewe, Wester Ross

As you can see we get around the Highlands.  These photos were taken last September on a dull day but still very fresh and pleasant.  Like many other parts of the Highlands once you leave the village it is amazingly empty and that day there was almost no traffic.  So if you are passing up  or down the west take look at Poolewe.

HUNDREDS of heart disease sufferers in the Highlands are to learn how to stay out of hospital from a team of specialist nurses. The NHS Highland Heart Failure Service, which starts in April, should reduce the number of times patients discharged from hospital have to return for further treatment. Five nurses based across the Highlands, who are specially trained in heart failure management, will work together with the community staff to show them how they can stay healthy. There will be one part time nurse covering Caithness and Sutherland, two nurses covering Ross-shire and Lochaber and 1 part time nurse and a full time nurse covering Inverness, Badenoch and Strathspey and Nairnshire.

Hinckley Point Arguments Break Out Over Stakeholder Group Chair - Bridgewater Mercury
Ah the spirit of love and co-operation.  Hinckley Point is a nuclear establishment now under the control of the NDA like Dounreay.

Dounreay Prototype Fast Reactor Coming Apart
Work to pull apart Dounreay's Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) is rapidly advancing with more and more large items of redundant equipment being ripped out of the former reactor complex as the plant is dismantled. Dounreay is at the leading edge of world-wide clean-up of former nuclear facilities, and as demolition progresses removal of massive and extremely heavy steel structures presents a challenging task to the site. This phase of pulling apart the plant has seen the removal of the largest amount of steelwork from the facility since decommissioning began and has resulted in the first visible external impact of the reactor demolition by leaving a noticeable gap on the Dounreay skyline. This £1m project is major progress for PFR.

Chamber Of Commerce Demands Answer To "Supremo For Dounreay Run Down" Question
The Caithness & Sutherland Chamber of Commerce is urging the lead Agencies in the decommissioning of the Dounreay site and the economic regeneration of Caithness & North Sutherland to make clear without further delay their acceptance or otherwise of the proposal, put forward six months ago at a Meeting of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group, for the appointment of a 'supremo' to oversee and drive the process forward. If the proposal has been rejected by the Agencies what are the objections to it and what plans do the Agencies have to take matters forward?

2007 Sees Forum/Message Boards Reach New Records
The Message Boards have grown slowly but surely over the past few years and since the start of the New Year have surged again to an average of over 4000 visitors a day.  If you have never been in for look you might be surprised at the range of topics being discussed or questions being asked.  In addition you can buy or sell an extremely wide range or items in the classified ads sections.  One of the features in the Message Board section is a live chat room that can be used anytime 24 hours day and where some members run a quiz often on Sunday evening open to anyone.

The Great Caithness Meteorite? (by U Keith Gerry)
Another article from the 2006 Bulletin of Caithness Field Club
For the older generation the striking feature of Scarfskerry harbour today is the absence of the wreck of the Linkmoor which for many years blocked the entrance. As long as the Linkmoor was there it drew attention away from the harbour’s most striking and most ancient feature. This is the extreme and unusual tilt of the beds of the Middle Old Red Sandstone which is steeply down to the left on the left of the harbour and steeply down to the right on the right of the harbour as shown in Fig 1. In geological terms the harbour lies along the crest of a very pronounced anticline. If storm tides have been helpful a strip of un-eroded folded stone may be found at the foot of the cliff to the right of the slipway. Better still a near vertical section is to be seen in the cliff in line with this strip.

'The Jolly Beggars and a' That'
Mill Theatre, Thurso
8.00pm on Wednesday 31st January - tickets £9.00 and £6.00 (Concession).
January sees the return of the programme featuring Professional artists to Thurso's Mill Theatre which starts of in style with a celebration of the works of Robert Burns in song and verse. 'The Jolly Beggars and a' That' is an informal performance of a little known but superb musical play (Cantata) by Burns consisting of eight poems and eight songs. Balance of the programme comprises the Burns Songs, from the light galloping instrumental tunes based upon jigs and reels, to the more moving love songs and serious political material.  All that and a Burns Supper - Move fast to get a ticket!!!!

The Third Millennium - Coming Sooner Than You Think!
Hi! Our names are Adam (18), Calum (15) and Donald (12) Risbridger; we are three brothers from Wick in the far north of Scotland who share common interests in books and computer games, and have done since an early age. We have recently taken up the feat of writing our own novel, based on some of our own adventures in digital worlds. The result - The Third Millennium: a science fantasy in which many of the characters we had created since we were young children come together in exploring a galaxy that exists in our imaginations. Intrigued by the story we had to tell, Aultbea, a Publishing House in Inverness, agreed to have a look at our manuscript and have written up the book for publication at April!

Caithness Glass Factory At Perth To Be Demolished - Perthshire Advertiser

Caithness Motocross 2006 Trophy Presentations
The Caithness Motocross Clubs (CMXC) 2006 season presentation was held in the Janet Street Club in Thurso on Saturday night. A large gathering of riders, parents & grand parents attended the event, which included the trophy presentation, games for the kids’ as well as the mums & dads, a prize raffle and a Lucky Ticket Draw for a Grand Prix rider’s race shirt. Caithness Motocross Club has gone from strength to strength over the last few years and this can be clearly seen by the ever increasing numbers of riders attending the events that take place during the year.

Tree Counting At Badryrie By Ken Butler
A project to plant trees at Badryrie in 1984 by Caithness Field Club was reported once again in the 2006 Caithness Field Club Bulletin.  22 years after the Field Club planted the trees they are still going strong and the report gives some very detailed information on their progress.  Some of the members who were involved in the original planting are still members of the Field Club including Ken Butler the author of this latest report.

Sir Elton John To Rock Highland Capital In 2007
Hot on the heels of last Friday's Highland 2007 Launch and Lifescan Monster Street Party, Highland 2007 have announced today that international rock star Sir Elton John will play in the Highlands as part of the year of Highland culture celebrations! The concert will take place at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Inverness, on Sunday 15 July and will be the opening event for InvernessFest, a new festival taking place in the Highland capital between 15 and 29 July 2007. Tickets will go on public sale on Tuesday 23 January at 9am and can be purchased by phoning the Elton John 24 hour ticket hotlines................more

Newtonhill Woodland To Be Tested For Gas
The Highland Council is preparing to carry out an investigation of a former landfill site in Caithness, which is currently community woodland. The Council has written today (Monday 15 January 2006)) to residents in 25 properties near the site and to community groups which use the site, to advise them of the works which will begin later this month. The site is at Newtonhill approximately 2 km south west of the centre of Wick. Site works will commence on Tuesday 23 January 2006 and will continue for an estimated four weeks. Monitoring will continue initially for a period of 6 months. During the site works there may be restrictions on access and use of the community woodland for Health and Safety reasons; although disruption of the normal use of the site will be limited as far as is possible. Newtonhill Photos
Castletown Survey Found No Risk
A similar set of tests was carried out at a site at Castletown last year and nothing was found.

Film Star Ewan McGregor Plans Motor Bike Ride - John O'Groats To Cape Town Sky Showbiz
John O'Groats sees many folk start trips  - walking cycling, pulling or pushing all sorts of contraptions and they are all usually on their way to Lands End.  This trip by Ewan McGregor is sure to create more publicity than most with a huge media pack on the trail not to mention many folk out to catch a glimpse of the star who has now featured in so many films.  If you cannot make it to John O'Groats don't worry it will probably be all over the TV, radio and in the papers when it happens. We hope he gets good day to start from Caithness.

Thurso Surf Competition Gets Mention At "Times Online"
The O'Neill Highland Open surf competition attracted some of the world's top surfers to try to get points in the world rankings.  The second competition to be held at Thurso looks set to be even bigger as attention from the press seems to be growing.  This piece at the Times Online also has a short film.  Lost of great short films from 2006 are still available to view on the O'Neill Highland Open web site.  Surfing is definitely  growing in Caithness as you now see surf boards for sale in one or two shops including a surf cafe Tempest Surf at Thurso harbour where you can get all the gear and food in their cafe.  Last April many of the surfers hung out at the cafe - see photos. See more Thurso surfing photos Here 

Caithness and Sutherland Provincial Mod Is In Caithness This Year
9 June 2007 - Various Venues in Caithness
Caithness hosts the annual provincial Gaelic Mod with competitions in Music, Recitation and Conversation with solos, choirs, instrumentalists and lots more. Highlight of the event will be the Celebration and Dance in the evening with highly acclaimed Celtic Band, Cliar.

Exhibition On Radio Active Particles Today In Thurso
The exhibition on Radio Active particles starts a run of four venues in Caithness today.  The exhibition is in the Royal Hotel, Thurso between 10.30am and 8.30pm today.  The exhibition then continues as follows -
Tuesday - Village Hall, Reay - 12.30pm - 8.30pm
Wednesday - Drill Hall, Castletown - 10.30am - 8.30pm
Thursday - Mackays Hotel, Wick - Rooms 10.30am - 8.30pm
A BSL/English sign language interpreter will be available this evening between 5.30pm and 8.30pm.  Bill Fernie, chairman of the external group looking at public participation said "A great deal of thought has gone into how best to involve the public in the process of consulting about an acceptable solution to the particles problem.  I would encourage as many people as possible to go along to the exhibitions and ask questions and find out how to participate and make your views known.  As an external committee we have tried to ensure that as much information is available in form that can be understood as easily as possible.  Everything we have asked for has been agreed and the information now presented represents the culmination of meetings and discussions over the past three years. This is a chance for the public to say how they want the problem dealt with after viewing all of the information."  Online a great deal of information is already on the Particles section of the UKAEA Dounreay web site.

Caithness Amateur Athletics Club  - Results and Information Now At
If you want to find out about local athletics a new service on the EbigH web site could be useful.  Kerry Mackay is now updating results from north of Scotland athletics meetings with information and photos.
Keep On Running At EbigH

Found - A Canon Canon RS60-E3 Remote Control
Did you lose a Canon remote control for your camera today or in the last few days in Caithness.  Email and say where you lost it and he will put you in touch with the finder so that you can get it back.


Site For More New Shops In Wick - Fast Becoming The Shopping Town Of The North
As the revelations of yet another new shopping complex next to Tesco, Wick were announced we thought you might like to take look at the site. The speculation about the opening at the Tesco roundabout is now resolved as Scapa Properties Ltd have a planning application in for four units - one 25,000 square ft plus 10,000 for garden centre plus three other units of 10,000 sq ft.  A new bus service is to start on trial from Helmsdale to Wick stopping at all of the shopping units and the town centre.  Previously the bus service was not good for shopping in Wick due to the timetable being unsuitable.  It will now be possible to spend a few hours in Wick and get a bus back from Helmsdale.  Meanwhile Tesco hopes to start its Home delivery service across Caithness in February.  Tesco are apparently also planning to add an extension to the existing new shop to bring in Tesco Direct   It looks like Wick's new shop boom may be far from over.  In Thurso and indeed across the county everyone is still awaiting the announcement for the date of the public enquiry into the ASDA planning application called in by the Scottish Executive.  Will Wick's latest potential new shops be up before ASDA in Thurso?

Four More Turbines For Forss
Work is starting to place four more wind turbines at the Forss site where two are already in place.


Viewfirth, Thurso - What Next?
Viewfirth in Thurso was home for many years to the Dounreay Social Club.  With its closure recently and plans to demolish the building that has structural problems an opportunity has arisen to build something new for the area.  The building and land is now owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.  they have indicated to the newly formed Viewfirth Redevelopment Steering Group that they might donate the land to the group if the community can come up with a viable use and create something to the advantage of the community.  The steering group now invites the public to a meeting on Wednesday 17th January at 7.00pm in the Pentland Hotel, Thurso to discuss any ideas that anyone might care to put forward. This planning for real exercise will hopefully be the start of the process to finding a good solution to building a new resource at the Viewfirth site. So get along with your ideas or go and make comments on other ideas being put forward.

Strathnaver, Sutherland
Strathnaver in Sutherland is a fascinating place to take trip through.  The scenic and almost empty strath offers a lovely day out or longer if you want to spend a few days exploring all of the places.  It is easy to reach from Inverness or Caithness if you happen to be on holiday.  The road is mainly single track and the slower pace is relaxing.  The photos were taken on 10 June 2006 and it was a beautiful and warm sunny day.  No attempt has been made to photograph all of the Strathnaver Trail as we will certainly go back to dip into other parts.
Sutherland Index

More Articles From The 2006 Bulletin Of Caithness Field Club
Two in a Boat (by Geoff Leet)
Skinnet Chapel and the Origins of Halkirk Parish (by George Watson)

Caithness Rabbit Fanciers Association - Rabbit Show
Staxigoe Hall, By Wick - 14 April 2007  10.00am - 4.00pm - Entries On The Day
This is a table show for rabbits and guinea pigs. Entries will be taken on the day of the show, and should be in a strong pet carrier, and have a suitable water bottle. Both breeders and pet owners are more than welcome. - Get this date in your diary if you would like to enter. There will be a British Rabbit Council Judge at the show. And that entry forms can be obtained from Meiklejohn's Tearooms, in Wick or by calling 01955 605945. Entries will also be taken on the morning of the show.

A Brief Look At Aviemore

Highland Views Index

More Funding Ideas For Charities And Voluntary Groups
A few more places to think about applying for funding for voluntary and charitable groups.  Check out our latest additions to see if anything fits with what you are looking for.

Keep Fit Photos From North Primary School, Wick

Dunnet Forest in Bloom with the help of Thurso College Students
Dunnet Forest Trust will benefit from a splash of colour this spring thank to a generous donation of bulbs from Homebase managers, Scott Hervo [left] and Murray Wilson. The event was organised by Catherine Patterson of Volunteering Highland as part of the National Make-A –Difference Day for volunteers.
Volunteering Highland In Caithness

More Information on an Old Photo - From A Man In The Photo
This photo from 1955 was sent in a while back but one man in the photo Bob Sutherland has been in touch with a few more details about it.  So many thanks to Bob Sutherland for taking the time to add the information now on the photo.



Galas, Shows, Games, Events - Get Your FREE Publicity Now For 2007
This is call to organisers of any events in Caithness for 2007 to get them post in the What's On as soon as possible and for the larger events we will place them in the Galas, Games and Shows page.  We get lots of enquiries about dates of events from people planning to visit Caithness and they want to make the trip to coincide with a gala or other event.  the sooner the dates are available the easier it is for people to make plans. To enter events in the What's On complete the Online Form in the section  Check first to see if someone else has already entered details.  If you want the item in the Galas, Shows, Games page email details to  These services are FREE so the sooner you get them in the longer your event can be seen.

Dounreay Visitor Centre Jobs 2007 Season
The jobs as guides and cafe assistants will be of interest to anyone who would like to work from Easter to October in 2007.

Wick Academy v Cove Rangers - CANCELLED

Construction Commences At Forss Wind Farm Extension
Civil engineering work has begun to add another four turbines to the existing two-turbine Forss wind farm near Thurso in Caithness, the project owner Renewable Energy Systems Group (RES)1 announced today. The 5.2MW project is expected to be fully commissioned and delivering green power for the Caithness area by the summer of 2007 RES has developed the project with landowner and co-renewable energy developer Abbey Properties Cambridgeshire Ltd and was responsible for the development of the original two turbine project, which started generating in 2003. This project has performed above expectations on the exposed coastal location.

E-newsletter Of North Highland Forest Trust
Published on 20 December we are delighted to bring you the latest edition that anyone with an interest in trees and forests might find something useful or of interest.

Hetty Munro's War Diaries
This latest extract from Hetty Munro's War diaries was published in the 2006 Caithness Field Club Bulletin.  We will shortly add the other articles from the 2006 Bulletin.
Field Club Bulletin Index       Caithness Field Club

Further Developments From Pentland Housing Association In Thurso & Wick

After the successful completion of 4 Flats and 2 Houses in Janet St, pictured below in March of last year, Pentland Housing Association have now  received approval from Communities Scotland to build a further 4 x 2 bedroom flats for rent at the upper end of Janet Street next to our original development.
Continuing Pentland Housing Association’s commitment to the regeneration of the historic but run down Lower Pulteneytown area where we completed 6 Flats and 10 houses in April 2005 in Telford Street we now intend to finish this housing development with a further conservation and conversion on the corner site of Saltoun and Miller Street.

Latest Newsletter From Hillhead Primary School, Wick

Latest Newsletter From Mount Pleasant School, Thurso

Reay Photo Identified But Does Anyone Have More Information
Jim Menzies in Canada has been in touch after finding that a photo he has was of Reay School and not from Perth as he previously thought.  He discovered the truth about his photo when looking at another photo on of Reay 1900 and he noticed the stonework behind the two classes was identical.  If anyone can supply more information about this photo send details to us and Jim

Wick High Reunion - For Former Pupils Aged 58 - 63 In 2007
Mackays Hotel - Friday 27 July 2007
If you are in the age group for this reunion get in touch with Jay Campbell or Elsie Cardosi
This age group had reunion on 28 July 1989 in Wick Quatercentenery year. When everyone was aged 40 - 45. So if you want to catch up with everyone once again get in touch soon to help the organisers.

HIE Invites Public To Consult On Potential Environmental Impacts Of Draft Operating Plan
There are still two weeks left for the public to respond to a consultation by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) on its draft operating plan and associated environmental report. Under the provisions of Regulation 16 of the Environmental Assessment of Plans & Programmes (Scotland) Regulations 2004, HIE has its first strategic environmental assessment to gauge the potential significant effects its draft operating plan may have on the environment.

New Salsa Classes Starting In Halkirk
A five session programme of salsa classes are starting on Monday night in the Halkirk Youth Club at 7:45. Ladies - it's a great way to get fit and gents - learn how to transform your two left feet and gain confidence on the dance floor. Salsa-Caithness is being headed by Dance teacher, Steve Hicks, who has been teaching salsa in Thurso for the past two years at the Ormlie lodge club on Friday nights. The classes are very relaxed, sociable events, but most importantly good fun. See the 'What's on' section for details of the Monday and Friday classes. Steve Hicks Old Manse Scarfskerry 01847 851778 / 07840090038

BB 1st Wick Appeal For More Helpers
The oldest youth organisation in the world. The Boys’ Brigade needs adult helpers in Wick. Could you give 1 or 2 hours a month of your spare time?



Comet McNaught Heads for The Sun
This comet is clearly visible to the naked eye very low in the sky near the Sun just before sunrise (SE) or at sunset (SW). This photo of it taken as the sky was brightening on the morning of 8th January. Unfortunately it will soon (by the end of this week) be too close to the Sun to see it. You'll need clear skies similar to those on recent mornings to see it - good luck! - Gordon Mackie

The Future Of Post Offices In The UK
The Department Of Trade and Industry (DTI) is currently running a consultation into the future of the Post Office Network.  The consultation closes for responses on 8 March 2007. the Post Office network is losing £4million per week having risen from £2 million per week a year ago.  People have moved away from using post offices in favour of banks for things like pensions payments and benefit payments.  The numbers of customers using post offices on weekly basis continues to fall.  The government has made a number of proposals and these are now included in the consultation document for comments by the public and other bodies.  With 2500 post offices targeted for closure this will be one of the biggest changes both for the post office and  possibly many rural areas.  Caithness has already seen the introduction of a mobile post office to replace five post offices.  Have you any thoughts about the possibility of further reductions in the branch network.  Send your thoughts and ideas via the online form
Peter Peacock MSP On The Post Office Crisis

Caithness Community Awards - Have You Nominated Anyone Yet?
The closing date for nominations for the Caithness community Awards is 15 January.  This is chance to say thankyou to people that you think are special and make a big contribution to Caithness life.  check out the categories and make a nomination .  A citizen of the Year and Young Citizen of the year will also be chosen from the nominations.  The Caithness Community Awards are being organised by The Caithness Partnership - basically a think tank to help improve how Caithness works.

Under 16 Valentines Disco In Wick
9 February, Dounreay Club, Wick - 7.30 - 9.30pm



Dounreay Bulletin - Issue 18
the latest bulletin from Dounreay includes items on - Four Years Accident-Free For Reactor Decommissioning Team - Ventilation Upgrade Set to Save £5 Million in Clean-Up Costs - New Camera Helps Recover Trapped Material During Clean-Up - Exhibitions on Particles Short-List - Tests to Identify Unusual Object Found on Beach - Peedie Beach is Surveyed - Reactor Boss Goes Back to Coal Face - Dounreay Keeps Clubs in the Picture - New Training Equipment for Caithness United

The Salmon Farm Monitor Group Exposes Over 1 Million Escapes in 2005

The Salmon Farm Protest Group (SFPG) can now reveal the names of the fish farmers who allowed more than 1 million farmed salmon to escape or die in their cages during 2005. Following the landmark decision by the Scottish Freedom of Information Commissioner (Decision 182/2006) that forced the Scottish Executive's Fisheries Research Services (FRS) to disclose the name of a fish farmer involved in an escape incident in 2006, the SFPG asked the FRS for the names of fish farmers involved in all escapes and fish deaths during 2005.

Friends of the Far North Line (FoFNL) response to the HITRANS Regional Transport Strategy Consultation
The link above will take you to a word doc showing the response by FoFNL to the HITRANS Consultation

If anyone would like to submit their own response the deadline is 31st January 2007.
The Far North Line

Public Invited To Particles Exhibitions
Exhibitions about radioactive particles in the marine environment near Dounreay will open in Caithness next week. The exhibitions will provide an update of information on the work carried out to date and provide information on a short list of eleven clean-up options identified. The four-day series is part of a programme of events to involve members of the public in identifying the best practical environment option for a future strategy for particles and follows initial consultation carried out in 2006.
Public Participation - Particles In the Marine Environment  Dounreay Particles
Dounreay Publications  Foreshore Particles Finds To 21 December 2006

Sunset Over West Calder
This photo taken on Christmas Eve was sent in by Chris Gregory.  It was taken from West Calder and shows it always pays to keep a camera handy for the few minutes when the sun is setting on clear nights.
Remember you can click to a larger version.


Parent Forums - Taking The Place Of School Boards - A chance To Find Out About Them
Thurso High - 7.00pm Monday 15 January
Parent Forums : Meeting for Parents with Moira McCarrell in the Main Hall
A meeting for parents to explain the role of the new Parent Forums which are replacing School Boards.
The meeting is for parents with children in both primary and secondary school.
Scottish Executive Introduction To New Parents Councils and Forums  Also See Parent Zone

‘CROFTING’ - a foundation course
This evening course is designed for new and aspiring crofters, established crofters who want to update their knowledge, or anyone interested in the crofting way of life. The course will be held over 10 weeks from January to March 2007 in Caithness. Each class will last for 2 hours. The course will start on 17 January. Anyone interested in attending should contact David Barclay on 01955 604500 17th January 2007. The course is subsidised and the cost is only £50 for ten weeks unless the applicant is eligible for a concession (This might apply to someone in receipt of benefits).

Nova Scotian opportunity for Gaelic speaker
The Highland Council is currently trying to identify a Gaelic speaker who would be prepared to live and work in Cape Breton for six months to help with a Gaelic language learning project. The recruitment drive to find a Gaelic speaker willing to live and work in Nova Scotia is one of a range of joint initiatives which are part of the "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU) - an agreement signed between The Highland Council and the Provincial Government of Nova Scotia in 2002. The MOU provides the basis for a variety of cultural initiatives between the two areas.

Wildcat Traditional Music Association - January Newsletter
This month's wildcat newsletter highlights the appearance of John Laing on Friday 12th January, Pentland Hotel, Thurso. 8:00PM Performing a selection of Burns, traditional and self-penned songs. Thurso Members: Free, Members 1st Guest: Free, Non members: £8,Senior Citizens: £2-50, Accompanied under fourteens: Free.

Ormlie Renewables - Shout Out Savings
As some of you will be aware Ormlie Community Association has spun out a Renewable energy project.  Ormlie Renewables is undertaking work on a number of fronts.  One of these is advice to householders on how they can save energy and of course money.  If you are in the Thurso area you can get personal visit to assess your energy situation and gain advice free of charge.  Other parts of Caithness can get a telephone consultation.

Miller Academy 1940s    Miller Academy 1940s 2
Photos sent by Robin Sinclair, Australia. If anyone can pinpoint the year or can supply names for photos 2 send details to

Old School Photos Index


More Early Caithness Photos

Hamish Gunn has sent in more photos showing different aspects of life in Caithness - A Telegraph Boy from around 1945 - A pre 1939 Flight from the field where North School and Leith Walk now stand - and another photo of 1285 Air Cadets Caithness Squadron.  Early Photos Index

Latest Additions To Herring Queen's Section

Photos sent in by Hamish Gunn.  Herring Queen's Index

Caithness Labrador Rescue Seek Homes For More Dogs
Labrador Rescue Scotland have contacted Caithness Labrador Rescue with details of 6 dogs needing homes and are desperate for some help.  Are you looking for Labrador and can offer home to one of these dogs.  Get in touch with Caithness Labrador Rescue.

Night Sky Over Thurso 3 December
Stewart Watt send in this photo of Orion over Thurso taken on 3 December 2006.



NORTHERN Constabulary’s promise to catch as many drink drivers as possible was underlined this week as the Force detected more offenders than in any of the three previous weeks of the Festive Safety Campaign. A total of 23 drink drivers were detected during week four of the campaign, up from 13 for the same week in 2005. One drug driver was also detected, making it a total of five drug drivers since the Force’s campaign, labelled Enjoy It Don’t Destroy It, began a month ago. During the entire four week campaign Northern Constabulary detected a total of 75 drink drivers across the Highlands and Islands, compared to 61 for the same period last year. Five drug drivers were detected during the four weeks, compared to none last year. The public’s patience appears to have run out in relation to drink and drug drivers with many of the offenders being reported by the public throughout the campaign.

First Aid Course (8 hour) Sunday 4 March 2007
The Caithness Sports Council is organising an 8 hour Emergency First Aid Course. The course is being run by Highland Leisure Training from Inverness. The course is aimed at people involved in sport. All day (9am to 5pm).  Venue: Wick.  Places are limited to 12 individuals.  Cost: £20/individual (Caithness Sports Council Club Members) The Caithness Sports Council is subsidising the cost of this course, therefore grant aid applications from clubs will not be considered. £40/individual (non Caithness Sports Council Club members)
To reserve a place, please contact Ken Nicol (tel: 01847 831508) or email  for an application form.

Caithness Field Club Bulletin 2002
Another in the Caithness Field Club Bulletin Series now published in full.
Editorial - Constitution - Slips That Pass In The Night - Caithness Field Club Programme Summer 2002
An Account of Field Club Activities 2001 - Biological Recording in Caithness
A Proposed Caithness Archaeological Trust - Early Flying In The North Of Scotland
WW2 Defences in Caithness - Part 2, Air Defences - Local Caithness Bird Names
Ackergill Lifeboat (1877 ‑ 1932) - A preliminary report on the 1st season of excavations at Everley, Freswick, Caithness - A Farm Flitting in 1949
Thanks again to Janet Mackenzie of the Field Club for preparing the text and photos for the web site. The only outstanding Bulletins still to be published are 2001 and 2006 along with few stray articles from earlier bulletins. Bulletin Articles Index - Caithness Field Club

Photos From Thurso's New Year Street Party

Recent Photos Of The Night Sky From Caithness Plus A Beginners Guide To The Winter Sky
Thanks to Gordon Mackie for his latest photos and Beginner's Guide To The Winter Night Sky for anyone who received a telescope for their Christmas.



Kite Cam Views Of Wick From North School

Kite Cam Index

Kite CAM Photos Of Caithness - Another New Section

Something new to kick the year off.  Photos of parts of the county taken from a kite.   If the weather allows we hope to bring a few more in the next few days.  Failing that new photos will be added whenever Grant Golding and Elaine Fernie (Bill's daughter) are back in the county.  We have added links and some information for anyone who would like to think about taking up this particular hobby.

Happy New Year From
We hope you all have a good year in 2007.  After the past slow week we hope to be able to begin to get back to normal shortly.

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