Wick, discovered by the Vikings who used it as a harbour, has been administrative centre of Caithness for 500 years. Wick was a place we wanted to avoid, as there isn’t good place to camp, and we just wanted to be much further south. Besides we briefly visited Wick on Sunday with Andrew.
But mother nature had different plans for us and so here we are, in Wick. We heard about Wick as harbour in connection with the one in Staxigoe. When that became too small, Wick harbour started to be used. A quay was built in 1768 in order to promote the town as a centre for herring fishing. At the beginning of 19th century as many as 200 fishing boats were based in Wick and the annual catch had increased to 13,000 barrels of salted herring. The town was thriving, soon becoming the busiest fishing port in Britain.
In the second half of the 19 century there were 1100 herring boats operating out of the harbour and we were told that you could walked from one side of the harbour to the other without stepping into the water.
Herring fishing is seasonal business and during the summer period the population of the town would increase from 6000 to 15000 as many migrant workers, some from the western and northern isles, came in to help process and pack the fish, mend nets, and provide all the other services demanded by such a high level of economic activity.
But with the herring stock decreasing came the decline and by 1930s there were less than 30 fishing boat in the town.
Spending two days in Wick, we could see and admire its former glory.
Wick today is very quiet, although in at its busiest times the town had 47 inns selling 800 gallons of whisky each week. This became a concern for clergymen and in 1920 licensed grocers and public houses were banned from selling alcohol. This of course lead to establishment of illegal drinking dens – Shebeens.
However local distillery, Pulteney, founded in 1826, survived and still produces its whisky.
To put all this in perspective, Wick’s total population today is around 8,000.
Our stroll today took us to yet another tidal pool. As we realised during this trip, these were very popular in Britain, mainly in Victorian era. This one is still used till these days and is regularly maintained and painted by “Friends of Trinkie”.
We also had a quick glimpse at the sea and no, not a paddling day today for us.