Staxigoe by Wick, Caithness

Submitted by Owen McCafferty on Sun, 2009-11-22

Two miles off Sarclet head lies the wreck of the fishery protection vessel Freya in 50 metres of water. Launch at Staxigoe.

Staxigoe became the first port in Europe to ‘salt the herring’. At one time, Staxigoe was the largest, “herring station” in Europe and the industry created work for the gutters, coopers, basket and sail-makers, carpenters and not least, the fishermen themselves. In the early days, as many as 50 boats could anchor in Staxigoe harbour.

At Staxigoe harbour (surveyed Mar 05), 2 miles north of Wick, a 3 metre bedrock wall gives way to a stepped seabed with kelp on the platforms and cobbles and pebbles overlying the bedrock in the troughs. The wall was covered with short animal turf, among which were species such as the sea hare Aplysia punctata, nudibanchs and the strawberry worm Eupolymnia nebulosa.

The dramatic 15th to 17th-century ruins of Sinclair and Girnigoe castles rise steeply from a needle-thin promontory three miles north of Wick. There’s a good clifftop walk to the castles via Noss Head lighthouse from the tiny fishing village of Staxigoe. You’ll encounter seabirds, including puffins, and come across the beautiful Sinclair Bay beach, popular for windsurfing and sand-yachting.

Staxigoe is a very sheltered harbour and is ideal for new diver training. There is easy access via the slipway and the depth slopes gradually. This is a scenic dive which features a swimthrough gully, bowl and small cave. It is an excellent site to practice compass work and navigation skills.

The coastline south of Wick on the East of Caithness offers some exceptionally rugged coastal scenery with the locally famed `Brig O`Trams` an amazing sea arch and the Brough, which is a large sea stack known locally as `Scorries Island`. There is also amazing underwater scenery for those intersted in Diving and can offer some amazing sights.

The dive site at Papigoe is reached from the shore. The climb up/down from the carpark is not insignificant but can be done sensibly. The dive drops straight into about 10m with 2 small caves on the right hand wall as you swim towards the headland. A number of gullies on the lefthand side and an underwater ‘window’ which can be found by swimming round the headland.

Fig: Staxigoe harbour, wick

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