Children on guided walk. Forvie NNR. ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

Forvie NNR - Visiting the reserve

With sand dunes, seals and birdlife, Forvie has something for everyone.

We ask that you continue to follow the Scottish Government and NHS guidelines and help protect yourself, your family and your local community:

  • Maintain hand hygiene
  • Follow physical distancing guidelines

While you are out and about, please take extra care to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Thank you for your patience and support; we look forward to welcoming you back safely.

​Getting here

Forvie NNR is on the east coast of Scotland approximately 26 kilometres north of Aberdeen.

By car

Head north out of Aberdeen on the A90, turning onto the A975 to Cruden Bay. There are three main entrances to the reserve with car parks.

Car parks

Newburgh: follow Beach Road at Newburgh Inn, AB41 6BY. This is the closest car park to the beach and the best place to view seals.

Waterside car park: 1.5 kilometres north of Newburgh.

AB41 6AB is the nearest postcode.

Visitor centre car park: 5 kilometres north of Newburgh. Turn right at the Collieston crossroads, and follow the signs to the centre.

AB41 8RU is the nearest postcode.

Waulkmill hide: turn left off the A975 opposite the Collieston junction.

AB41 8RL is the nearest postcode.

There are also a number of lay-bys just off the A975. These offer good views across the NNR.

By public transport

Stagecoach buses from Aberdeen to Peterhead (via Cruden Bay) stop in Newburgh and at Collieston crossroads. This is a 20-minute walk from the visitor centre.


Forvie National Nature Reserve

Twelve miles north of Aberdeen, through Newburgh off the A975.

Aberdeen-Peterhead (via Cruden Bay) buses stop at Collieston crossroads, then walk to visitor centre (twenty minutes) or from Newburgh to the estuary (fifteen minutes).

For visitors

Our visit Forvie NNR leaflet is a good introduction to the reserve.

Visitor centre

Open daily April to October, otherwise by request.

You’ll find a series of displays, a film presentation and tactile exhibits about Forvie.

Telephone: 01358 751330


The visitor centre toilets are accessible and are open daily from April to October.

There are public toilets in Collieston, at the harbour, and in Newburgh, at Newburgh Inn. Both are open all year round through the publicly available toilet scheme.

Wildlife hide

Waulkmill hide is at Bridge of Forvie (grid reference: NK 004287). Overlooking mudflats where the River Ythan begins to open out into the estuary, it provides good views of wading birds.

Trails for all

Start from Waterside car park or from the Forvie visitor centre. All trails can be cycled and are also accessible by sturdy wheelchair.


From here, follow the Dune Trail to explore the Ythan estuary, the dunes and beach. During the summer the southern section of the dune system is closed to protect breeding terns and eiders. In winter, explore more widely through the dunes, but keep your distance from seals and pups.

Visitor centre (Collieston)

From here, take the Heath Trail round the northern section of the reserve.

Hackley Bay

A trip to this wonderful hidden bay makes an enjoyable short extension to either of the way-marked trails. There are steps down to the beach at the south side of the bay. Although the route to Hackley Bay is not waymarked, the start of the trail is marked with a viewpoint symbol.

If you’re looking for a full day’s walk, the three routes can be combined to create a much longer day out.

Seasonal highlights

There is something to see at any time of the year. From April to August, alternative routes are provided around the tern breeding area.


Eider ducks are all around, with up to 2,000 gathering to nest in the heather and grass. The best place to see these birds is the lower Ythan estuary, where you can watch them diving for mussels. Terns also arrive in spring. Meanwhile, the cliffs are dotted with spring-flowering primroses, cowslips and butterwort. The large seal haul-out can be viewed from Newburgh beach.


Visit Forvie in August and find a vast swathe of purple carpeting the dunes. The sea cliffs dazzle with colour as pink-flowered thrift, sea campion, kidney vetch and purple northern marsh-orchid come into bloom. The sheltered beach of Hackley Bay is a real smuggler’s cove. You can watch cliff-nesting fulmars feeding chicks on their nests.


The autumn colours are stunning at Forvie, with the purple of the blooming heather dotted with glistening crowberry. Carpets of lichen are clearly visible and there are fungi of all shapes, sizes and colours.


Come in winter to enjoy the swirling patterns of the shifting sands. Watch the overwintering waders, and perhaps even spot some snow buntings.