Between the harbour and the castle lies the wreck of the Gretafield, an oil tanker that struck a mine during the Second World War and drifted, on fire, into Dunbeath bay.
The acres of decking looks like sea bed. It has been known for divers to spend a complete dive swimming around on it looking for the wreck.
Further out the form becomes more apparent especially the heavy machinery.
Close inshore beware of a broken pipe, which just clears the water at low tide. It is substantial enough to have withstood over 50 years of storms. It is unlikely that the hull of a Rib would do it much damage.
Dunbeath, on the east coast of Sutherland, was the bithplace of novelist Neil Gunn. The village of Dunbeath is on the main A9 coast road, between Helmsdale and Lybster. Locally, there are the excellent Dunbeath Heritage Centre and the Laidhay Croft Museum. The childrens play park and tennis court are also nearby.It is in a convenient location to use as a stop-over on the long walk or cycle run from Lands End, as it is 38 miles from John o Groats, or before catching a ferry to Orkney. Between Dunbeath and Smerral is this ancient place full of Caithness history with everything from Pictish Brochs to nineteenth century houses and farm buildings. Use it as a base for exploring the far north, visiting the Castle of Mey, for climbing cliffs and sea-stacks, for hill-walking on Scaraben or Morven, for discovering the interesting archaeology of Caithness, or for simply relaxing in a beautiful location. Travelling south at Sarclet and Dunbeath – eventually landing near Kildary in Rosshire. A day to forget for those unfortunate enough to be underneath it – not looking up.
Just off the cliffs under Dunbeath castle, lies the wreck of the Gretafield. Carrying 13000 tons of fuel oil, she was torpedoed north of Wick in 1940 and finally ran aground at Dunbeath. It’s only a short RIB ride to the wreck from the harbour and slipway. The wreck lies in 12 – 14m. Being shallow, she is well broken up with little of the hull structure remaining. The boilers, engine, prop-shaft and machinery are easily located. The wreck can be completely studied in a single dive.
Dunbeath Heritage Centre and Caithness Horizons will be diving deep into Tales of the Sea to explore and bring to life the maritime heritage of Caithness. Storytellers will unravel the myths and legends associated with fishing and the sea. Caithness Horizons is a newly-opened museum and exhibition centre in Thurso. This year’s Show Scotland event is the perfect opportunity for the new kid on the block to establish a working relationship with Dunbeath Heritage Centre, already well established on the Caithness heritage trail. Focusing on the shared maritime heritage of the two centres, Tales of the Sea brings together storytellers Bob Pegg and Andrew MacKintosh to summon the tang of salt air and the glimmer of unfathomable depths for audiences of all ages.
Dunbeath Visitor Information Centre
Dunbeath Preservation Trust
Limited service: free local and national information; travel and transport advice, self-service accommodation booking (freephone).
The Old School
Tel: +44 (8452) 255121
Fax: +44 (1605) 832222
Inver Caravan Park
Tel: +44 (1593) 731441
Fax: +44 (1593) 731477
Check also: Dunbeath Heritage Centre
Caithness KW6 6EH