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Canisbay's historic church gets a facelift

By Jean Gunn

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Canisbay church looking resplendent after a fresh coat of paint. Picture: Lyall Rennie
Canisbay church looking resplendent after a fresh coat of paint. Picture: Lyall Rennie

CANISBAY's historic church is looking pristine again after the completion of painting and restoration work at the grade A listed building.

Minister the Rev Lyall Rennie said: "It is looking a lot better now. Everybody is pleased with it."

The project took longer than expected as gaining the necessary permission from the relevant bodies held things up.

Cast-iron guttering was fitted to the tower part of the building to prevent rainwater running down the walls and causing damage.

Dating back to the early 1600s, the church has become a popular tourist attraction and is part of the Northern Saints' Trails. The present building stands on the site of an earlier church dedicated to St Drostan.

The trails – six circular routes – were devised by a small group from a Caithness book club and link sites associated with the early Celtic saints of the area in a bid to encourage visitors to spend more time in the county.

They have a list of 33 saints and 32 local sites, although the guide also includes other locations on the North Coast 500, giving a total of 50 saints and 50 sites.

Jan de Groot, the man who founded John O'Groats, is buried in the cemetery at Canisbay – his mural tombstone, erected in1568, sits in the church building.

Mr Rennie, who officially retired at the beginning of September, is still taking services within the Pentland parish due to the shortage of ministers.

Regarding the next phase of renovation work, he said: "We are hoping sometime next year to improve the path."

Due to the church's connection with tourism, money towards the restoration was received from the Stroupster Wind Farm fund.

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