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The tiny Scots village where Gavin and Stacey star Mathew Horne would move for a quieter life

By Sean Murphy

It's the idyllic Highlands village that English TV star Mathew Horne has fallen in love with.

Tiny Helmsdale on the east coast of Sutherland has a population of just over 750, but its beauty and appeal have seen the Gavin and Stacey star name it the place he would love to move to.

Horne, whose onscreen romance with fellow star Joanna Page entranced the nation, spends his holidays there when he's not working on his film and TV projects.

So much so, that in 2018, it was even rumoured he had quit the hustle and bustle of London to move there.

Gavin and Stacey star Mathew with co-star Joanna Page. (BBC)

The remote village sits on the far northeast coast of Scotland, just south of Wick.

But that hasn't stopped the 43-year-old, who regularly states he has Scottish blood, describing the Highlands as his "spiritual home".

Speaking on That Gaby Roslin podcast, he said: "I would very much like to live there. I am all things Scotophile."

And it's not the first time he's spoken of his love for the area, while speaking to the Sunday Post, he said: "It’s the best country in the world. My shoulders drop and I feel free. It is where my heart lies and hopefully one day I will have a place of my own there so I can retreat as and when I need to.

"I love the peace and tranquillity and the people. The food is wonderful, the weather is nowhere near as bad as everybody says and midges don’t like me, so that’s good."

He also added that it was due to his family connections that he discovered he has a "very special relationship" with Helmsdale.

And it's no wonder he's such a fan, located on the famous NC500 road trip route, Helmsdale is surrounded by the beautiful and wild coastal scenery of Sutherland.

Dating back to 1814, the modern village was tied to a darker period in Scotland's history – it was designed to house those families displaced by the Highland clearances.

The period is commemorated by the Emigrants Statue, which you'll find overlooking the village.

The fishing port regularly hosts its own Highland Games, on the third Saturday in August each year, and is hugely popular with visitors – and no, you don't have to be a TV star.

Located at the mouth of the River Helmsdale, Helmsdale is also ideally situated for whisky fans with no fewer than four best selling distilleries within toughing distance.

Heading north to Wick, you'll find Old Pulteney, while south of the village is Clynelish in Brora, Glenmorangie in Tain and Dornoch Distillery in nearby Dornoch.

In fact, Diageo have also just announced plans to rebuild their lost Brora Distillery which is also close by.

Culture and heritage lovers will find spending the afternoon at The Timespan Heritage Centre vastly appealing.

The popular community hub is home to not only a local history museum but also a contemporary art programme, herb gardens, a shop, a bakery and a cafe.

Don't miss the top culture and heritage stories from around Scotland. Sign up to our twice weekly Scotland Now newsletter here.

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