Towns & Villages

    Helmsdale, on the east coast of Sutherland, was built on golf, herrings and salmon!

    Today, Helmsdale is a name synonymous with salmon fishing, but the town and its picturesque harbour originally prospered as a result of the herring boom of the 19th century. The Timespan Heritage Centre uses an award-winning combination of life-size displays and audio-visual exhibits to tell the story of the area from earlier times.

    From Helmsdale, a short drive up the Strath of Kildonan will take you to Baille an Or and Suisgill - sites of the 'great Sutherland gold rush' of 1869. The first finds were by Robert Gilchrist, a local man who returned home after 17 years in the Australian gold fields. His success brought others rushing to Kildonan and soon there was a shanty town of hundreds of prospectors. Within a year the gold rush was over, but small amounts are still found today.

    Helmsdale's annual Highland games are held in a dramatic setting overlooking the village.

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