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Introduction to Helmsdale

Nestling below Creag  Bunillidh the traditional Highland fishing village of Helmsdale is the ideal base from which to explore Sutherland. Situated at the mouth of the River Helmsdale (from which it takes its name) it has a lot to offer the visitor.
    The village was planed at the time of the Highland Clearances in the early 19th century, on the site of an ancient settlement. Located as it is on the shores of the Moray Firth, it is natural that many of the local community make their living from the sea. The herring industry (the silver darlings) brought prosperity to the village until the beginning of the last century and, although the boom is now over, the visitor can still stand at the picturesque harbour and watch fishing boats prepare to reap today's harvest of lobster, crab and white fish.
    Using Helmsdale as your base, John o'Groats and the Orkney Islands are within easy reach and the whole of Sutherland is at your doorstep. For the visitor from the city, for whom driving has ceased to be a pleasure, the quiet roads of the country will bring joy back to motoring and you can explore the unspoilt loveliness of the area. Or simply park your car and enjoy what the village and surrounding countryside have to offer.
    Sit by the harbour and watch the boats come and go, explore the beaches for gemstones, play tennis or golf, squash or carpet bowls, go bird watching or hill walking. Fish for salmon or sea trout on the association water, or visit one of the many lochs in the area for brown trout fishing. Visit some of the many ancient brochs and cairns or spend an afternoon at nearby Dunrobin Castle. When night eventually falls, call into one of the hotels for a friendly chat, or have a good meal of local venison, salmon lobster or crab.
    There is entertainment in the village throughout the season and visitors are always welcome. One of the highlights during the summer is the Helmsdale highland Games where the top Scottish athletes, pipers and dancers compete. The Date for this yeare games 2014 is saturday 16th august. Events commence at 11.00am this year.
     The river Helmsdale tumbles and winds its way down the beautiful Strath of Kildonan and is one area which no visitor should miss from his itinerary, as there is so much to see. The Strath abounds with wildlife and history, including the historic church at Kildonan and Baile an Or and Suisgill, sites of the great Sutherland Gold Rush of 1869. Many men from all over Britain came in search of gold and there is still gold today. You can still pan for gold, details can be obtained from Strath Ullie Crafts .
    East Sutherland is one of the lowest rainfall areas in Scotland, and here in the north, we can boast the longest summer days.
Helmsdale has two restaurants the La Mirage where stars of television, film and literature are among the many visitors. Three hotels the Bridge hotel (Closed at present) the Belgrave with its Bel-Grill Restaurant and the Navidale House Hotel. One pub the Bannockburn all serve excellent meals.
    There is also a number of small shops. McColls (convenience stores) in Trentham street and in Dunrobin Street you will find the Spar shop, Helmsdale tackle Company everything you would want to know about fising flies, A. R. MacLeod & Sons for hardware, Twentieth Century Collectables for Jewellery, Antiques and Interesting Curios for all pockets. The community centre serves as the Library and Infomation point, and If you wander down to the harbour you will find Strath Ullie Crafts and this is also the tourist information centre for Helmsdale.