Wick River

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The Wick River, known also as River Wick, is a river in Caithness, which enters the North Sea at Wick.

The source of the river near Achigale Mill at the northern end of Bardarclay Moss, the river beginning in the union of the Scouthal Burn and Strath Burn, at ND241536 in the Flow Country of Caithness. The river runs from there across this damp, level land down to Wick, opening in an estuary (ND359510), in Bay of Wick (ND378505). The town of Wick stands across the river by its mouth.

From source to sea the river drops just 82 feet.

River basin

The river basin includes Loch Watten and Loch Tofingall (ND190522) to the west of the estuary, and Loch Hempriggs and the Loch of Yarrows (ND309438) to the south-southwest.

Viewed upstream from the estuary, the river and its tributaries can be listed as follows:


The Wick River estuary ranges from the vicinity of Wick Harbour to a broad area inland.

On both sides of the estuary, areas of Wick are built on artificial embankments which have narrowed the river channel, or have fixed a channel where otherwise the area would be more that of tidal beach.


The river is spanned by one railway, three roads and two footbridges. In order from the sea, they are:

  • Within Wick (ND365509), the Harbour Bridge spans the river at its mouth, to link Wick town centre with Wick Harbour and Pulteneytown. It stands instead of the earlier Service Bridge.
  • Also in Wick (ND363509), the river is spanned by the main road linking John o' Groats with Latheron and Inverness (the A99- A9). The bridge here is known as the Bridge of Wick and it carries an extension of Wick’s Bridge Street.
  • Around 500 yards west of the Bridge of Wick (ND358510), a footbridge spans the river via an island in the river, and this serves as a link between recreational meadows on the north and south banks.
  • About halfway between the footbridge and the railway bridge there is another footbridge.
  • Around 300 yards east of Mary Ford (ND328523), the river is crossed by the railway which links the burgh of Wick with the burgh of Thurso and the city of Inverness.
  • In Watten (ND244543), the river is crossed by the main highway, A882, linking Wick with Thurso, known as Achingale Bridge.