Dirlot Castle, Halkirk – Caithness

Keep going past Westerdale Mill, follow the road to the old sand quarry and turn off into it, go on through the quarry – do not stop in the quarry as there are dangerous pools and disused buildings here!

When you reach the farm at the end, find a good place to park and walk toward the cemetery. Leave minor road from Westerdale to Loch More and park at Dirlot farm then walk down to castle. Below the cemetery is what is known as the Kettle Pool.

This pool is quite deep – about four and a half meters (not bottomless as rumored!) and has many big rocks in it which lie just below the surface so don’t dive in! A walk down Thurso river to Dirlot Castle located in a beautiful gorge in the river.

Legend tells us that a valuable treasure (a kettle of gold) was thrown into the pool to stop the invaders winning it. A number of attempts by strong swimmers have been made over the years to retrieve the gold but that they never surfaced alive, only a few internal organs drifted to the surface! The treasure is supposed to be guarded by a fearsome water horse.

Beside this pool, across from the cemetery is a high pinnacle of rock which used to house Dirlot Castle, now ruined with only small fragments left. It was originally built by Sir Reginald De Cheyne, then owned by the Gunns, Sutherlands and Mackays. It was built in the 14th century.

Dirlot castle (which originally belonged to the Gunns) was constructed in the first half of the 14th century and is another of Sir Reginald Cheyne’s strongholds, possibly the smallest and perhaps one of the most intriguing of all his properties from a defensive point of view. Ruins of 14th century castle with unusual shaped burial ground.

Henry Gunn, one of the surviving sons of Crowner Gunn, is said to have revenged his father’s death here by shooting an arrow through a small window, killing the Keith chieftain who was celebrating his victory. Close by is a small graveyard which was the burial place for the Gunns of Cattaig and Dalnaglaton. The Castle lies inland, about 20 miles from the coast in the middle of a vast peat moor land, about 3 miles South of the village of Westerdale. Dirlot Castle is the listed property of The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Ordnance Survey Map Ref: ND126487

This is a beautiful place for a picnic.

The cemetery is in the shape of an arrow head supposedly because it was built by the forerunners of today’s Masons.

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Dirlot Castle
3 miles South of the village of Westerdale Halkirk Near Thurso and Wick
Scotland, UK

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