Every summer, on the last Saturday in July, up to 5,000 visitors and locals flock to the village of Halkirk in Caithness (pop. 1,000) for a day of traditional and spectacular Scottish sport. They are guaranteed to be enthralled in watching over 100 competitors, many being national or world champions, challenging each other for various championship titles. The immensely strong Highland 'heavyweight' athletes, light footed Highland dancers, traditional Scottish pipers, fast runners, nimble jumpers, courageous cyclists, accurate clay pigeon shooters, excited children and even bonnie babies, all compete in around 100 events to produce a memorable afternoon.
The new Castle in Halkirk was built in the late 19th century.The original castle is now in ruins and lies to the right and behind the new one.The ruin, as well as the modern castle of Braal now belong to the Sinclairs of Ulbster.The old castle at Braal is of Norse origin, though probably not in its present form, and is of striking contrast to other castles in Caithness.Situat.ed among woods on the west bank of the Thurso River at Halkirk, it is without doubt the best preserved of the Norse castles. It was the principal seat of John, 24th Earl of Caithness (1206-1231).