Halkirk area, Caithness

The name Halkirk comes from the Norse for “High Church” and was originally Ha-kirk-ja.

This village is the first planned village in the highlands, the plans being drawn up in 1803 on a grid-iron basis. This is revealed when you look at a map of Halkirk and the street layout.

Halkirk is a village on the River Thurso in Caithness, in the Highland council area of Scotland.

Halkirk area, Caithness

From Halkirk the B874 road runs towards Thurso in the north and towards Georgemas in the east. The derivation of the place name Halkirk is a Norse form of ecclesiastical origin. It appears as Ha-kirkju in the Norse sagas, takes the forms of Haukirc and Haukyrc in two Latin documents of the thirteenth century. The village is within the parish of Halkirk, and is said by local people to be Scotland’s first planned village.

The setting is Halkirk, a small farming village at the northern tip of Scotland near Caithness, surrounded by undulating fields bathed in sunlight. The only sounds are birds chirping and lambs searching for their mothers … until the tranquility is shattered by the thud of an 11 stone, 19- foot telegraph pole splatting into mud.

As far north as you can travel in mainland Britain, the ‘Big Sky’ county of Caithness looks out over a rugged coastline, interrupted by long, beautiful, sandy beaches, to the Orkney Isles and beyond. The seas around us teem with all manner of marine life, including puffins, gannets, seals, basking sharks, dolphins and whales. Further inland, the green, rolling parks and arable fields give way to the vast, seemingly empty tracts of heather moor and hill known as the ‘Flow Country’, an important wildlife habitat and home to an amazing variety of plant and insect life, many unique to our county.

Sports and socialising come together in possibly the most important event for the village – the Halkirk Highland Games. Every summer, on the last Saturday in July, up to 5000 people flock to the village’s Recreation Park to enjoy this premiere sporting event. Another highly-anticipated event is the Northern Nashville Caithness Country Music Festival, staged over Easter weekend. Held in the Indoor Riding Centre – another important and popular local facility – this event too attracts visitors from around the globe.

Regularly featuring some of the biggest names in country music since it began in 2004, the festival continues to go from strength to strength. However, it is not just during the summer that the area comes to life – events take place all year round, often in the handsome village hall known as the Ross Institute.

In summer, the long, bright evenings allow plenty of time to see and enjoy some of the many attractions and activities we have to offer. The winter months bring short days, certainly, but the clear night skies are often a backdrop for the spectacular Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights – a natural phenomenon that must be seen to be believed.

Halkirk has a “half day closing” on Wednesdays. Not all of the shops are shut but some are.

looks out over a rugged coastline

Fig: Looks out over a rugged coastline

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