Hotels in Helmsdale
A delightful little port on the east coast of Sutherland, Helmsdale was effectively built on the prodigious levels of herring found in the sea during the 19th century. At one time, the town was home to Europe's largest herring fleets. Book a Helmsdale hotel with us and discover this remote Scottish location.
Flowing from Loch Badanloch, nearly 20 miles north-west of the village, the River Helmsdale was the source of a gold rush in 1869 after a single nugget was found by a local man. The supply of ore ran out within a year but it's said that the occasional lump is found from time to time.
The River Helmsdale is one of the most salmon-rich in Scotland. It is also a source of summer fish such as grilse and sea trout.
Helmsdale has its own Highland games which take place every August, at which time the population doubles from the usual 600 or so because of visiting spectators.
The Helmsdale Circuit
The spectacular Sutherland countryside provides a wealth of walks one of which, the Helmsdale Circuit, is a bracing 3.75 mile trek. You'll take in the harbour, a section of the coast and a hillside climb. Once at the peak you'll get great views of the village before returning via the riverside.
Timespan Museum and Arts Centre
Local culture and history is represented in this fascinating little centre which traces the area's past through stories, folklore, displays, artwork and films. Discover what happened to the nearby township of Caen which was one of many settlements that were irrevocably torn apart by the Highland Clearances. Speaking of which, a statue unveiled in 2007 by then First Minster Alex Salmond stands at the mouth of the Strath of Kildonan. You'll see that the statue depicts a family forced to leave their home as a consequence of the clearances.
Eating and drinking in Helmsdale
Enjoy traditional Scottish high teas and afternoon tea at La Mirage. This restaurant was created by the late Nancy Sinclair who found fame as a fashion model in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The décor is very much influenced by her good friend Barbara Cartland, which adds a distinct rose-coloured palette to this popular eatery. Renowned locally for its fish teas and sense of fun, Thyme and Plaice uses locally sourced ingredients to create home-cooked cuisine. Aside from fish, you'll find tasty meat dishes and delicious cakes. The Bannockburn Inn has been around for over 160 years and is perfect for a refreshing pint or two after a day of fishing or walking. It also serves a mean stake.
Shopping in and around Helmsdale
Helmsdale has a butcher's and a baker's but sadly, a candlestick maker is nowhere to be seen. The local greengrocer stocks most essentials, and there are a few fishing shops, golf emporium, as well as gift stores and an antiques dealer.
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