Originally a Viking settlement named Vik (meaning “bay”), WICK has been a royal burgh since 1589. It’s actually two towns: Wick proper, and Pultneytown, south across the river, a messy, rather run-down community planned by Thomas Telford in 1806 to encourage evicted crofters to take up fishing. Wick’s heyday was in the mid-nineteenth century, when it was the busiest herring port in Europe, with a fleet of more than 1100 boats exporting tons of fish to Russia, Scandinavia and the West Indian slave plantations. Though redevelopment of the harbour is underway, the town still has a down-at-heel air. The area around the harbour in Pultneytown, lined with rows of fishermen’s cottages, is most worth a wander, with acres of largely derelict net-mending sheds, stores and cooperages around the harbour giving some idea of the former scale of the fishing trade. The town’s story is told in the Wick Heritage Centre in Bank Row, Pultneytown. The only other visitor attraction is the fairly simple Pulteney Distillery on nearby Huddart Street, a few blocks from the sea.
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