The beauty of North East Sutherland draws folk northward when visiting the Highlands. The landscapes are stunning – quite unlike those to be found elsewhere in Britain – as are the coastal routes and villages that hug the seashore. It is this place that informs all the work that Timespan does.
The village takes its name from the famous Helmsdale River which was originally a Viking settlement. With a natural harbour and plentiful supply of fish from both river and sea, it has survived the ravages of conquest and time.
Helmsdale was designed to an early grid system which is perfectly preserved. There are some fine examples of original stonework in the Telford Bridge and the Ice House, where the built environment reflects the natural heritage of the area and the Strath Kildonan in particular, which is of considerable geological and archaeological importance.
The Strath follows the river 8 miles inland to Baille an Or (Place of Gold). It is possible to actually pan for gold here. Also a highly spiritual area – some say even more so than Iona, for it’s ancient pagan and Christian roots. There has been a church permanently on the site of St Donan’s Kirk since the 13th century. The kirk is about a mile from Baille an Or with Viking and Pict sites in between. The Moorland beyond Baille an Or is where pre Clearance communities once lived.