The old harbour of Helmsdale enjoys some prosperity from fishing boats loaded with whitefish and lobsters. As far back as 1841 salmon were packed in ice and sent south to London.
Helmsdale was chosen to be a showplace by the Duke of Sutherland, who settled a few of the families his agents had evicted from the hinterland.
His stamp of authority is still evident in the streets running east to west which bear the names of his Scottish estates; those running north to south commemorate his English possessions.
The ancient ruins of a medieval castle overlooking the village was, in 1567, the setting of a tragedy said to have inspired the poisoning scene in Hamlet, A cup of poisoned wine intended for the Earl of Sutherland was inadvertently drunk by the Countess's son.