Dornoch Firth Nature Trail


A relaxing trip to some of the most scenic locations in and around the Dornoch Firth, with varied wildlife. This tour will appeal to those who love nature and wildlife. Shin Falls and Ledmore and Migdale Woods are inland areas, dominated by rich woodland, pristine rivers and lochs.

The Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve is a unique marine conservation area, where the sea rushes in each day and retreats again at low tide. It is bordered by a pine forest on one side and dunes on the other and it is a great location for wildlife, from seals to all sorts of birdlife.

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  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
      Discovery, Guided Tours, Wildlife
    • Activity Level Leisurely
    • 7
    All about the Dornoch Firth Nature Trail.

    This tour starts with a visit to Shin Falls, a powerful waterfall on the Shin river which connects Loch Shin to the Oykel river and the Kyle of Sutherland. In the summer months, salmon can be seen from a viewing platform, leaping the falls. The Shin Falls site also has some lovely woodland surrounding it with well-marked walking trails. From Shin Falls we travel just a few miles east into Bonar Bridge and take a minor road towards the tiny hamlet of Spinningdale – here we find Loch Migdale and the Ledmore and Migdale Woodland Trust, with more lovely walks to the side of the loch and also to a hilltop overlooking the Dornoch Firth. We then travel on more minor roads, passing Loch Buidhe and following its river to where it meets Loch Fleet. Loch Fleet is a beautiful sea estuary and National Nature Reserve, with many species of birds and a large seal population. It is bordered by a lovely pine forest on its northern shore, the tiny village of Littleferry at its sea entrance and the sand dunes at Coul Links on its south shore. Bring your binos!

    The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
    What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

    Pick up and return to client accommodation

    Executive minibus with driver/guide – water bottles included

    What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.

    Meals, snacks or tea and coffee

    1. Pick Up Collect clients from Accommodation

      Highland Explorer collect clients from their accommodation

    2. Stop 1 Shin Falls Visitor Centre

      The new Shin Falls Visitor Centre was opened in 2017 and resembles a salmon in its design. The inspiration for this comes from the Falls of Shin, located just 100 metres from the cafe. In the summer months this is a great spot to see leaping salmon. There are also some lovely forest walks that can be accessed immediately from the car park

    3. Stop 2 Ledmore and Migdale Woodland Trust

      Just a few miles east of Shin Falls and near to the town of Bonar Bridge, lies the beautiful Ledmore and Migdale woods. The area comprises a large freshwater loch (Loch Migdale) and the largest remnant of ancient oakwood in eastern Britain as well as one of the most northerly pine forests. There are 12 kms of walking tracks and the Woodland Trust that manages this woodland, have recently re-located 20 red squirrels into the area

    4. Stop 3 The Mound

      There are two stops in the Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve – firstly at The Mound, just off the A9 to view the extraordinary embankment designed by the famous engineer Thomas Telford and built between 1813 and 1816. This embankment, 1000 yards long, 60 yards wide and 23 feet high, with its bridge on the north side, was finally sealed in June 1816, preventing the sea from flooding a further 2.5 kms inland. It is a remarkable engineering achievement and was part of the many works undertaken to improve access to the far north of Scotland. In 1900, a light railway line was constructed here, to connect the main Highland railway line with Dornoch – which by the turn of the 20th century was welcoming the first golf tourists!

    5. Stop 4 Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve

      We will stop at a car park that has an exceptional view of the whole of the Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve. It is a large tidal basin and the sea races in through a narrow estuary just south of the tiny village of Littleferry. There are extensive sand dunes, saltmarsh and pinewoods on the north side of the reserve. It is a great location from which to observe seals and many of the birds that are both resident and migratory

    6. Return Return clients to Accommodation

      Highland Explorer will return clients to their accommodation

    As much as you want! The Shin Falls requires a short walk down a path to view the waterfall – no more than a 2 minute walk. The Ledmore and Migdale Woods will require more stamina, as we walk through the woods to Loch Migdale and then on to the summit of a small hill that overlooks the Dornoch Firth. Loch Fleet is much easier to access from the road and has many viewpoints and walkways

    Yes but not for small children who might not enjoy some of the walking. Adults will be the best judge if a child will enjoy a half day nature trail

    Best footwear would be walking boots/shoes or trainers if not wet. Always wear layers of clothing as weather can change quickly in Scotland. Bring a waterproof top and hat and gloves for safety

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