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Loch Fleet NNR - Visiting the reserve

Visit Loch Fleet to experience a magical blend of wildlife, coastal scenery and pinewoods.

 

 

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Getting here

The reserve is on the east side of A9 in Sutherland, between Dornoch and Golspie.

By car

Visiting Littleferry and Balblair woods. Turn off the A9 in Golspie onto the golf course road. The road passes through Balblair woods, where there is a car park on the left with access to the Balblair woodland trail.

Continue south towards Littleferry and there is a second car park on the left. From here you can walk to Littleferry or access the dunes and beach.

KW10 6TD is the nearest postcode. The grid reference NH 806957.

Visiting the south shore. Turn off the A9. From the north, follow the brown tourist signs for Visit Embo and Dornoch.

From the south, take the minor road through Skelbo to the shore. There is a public car park at the shore. There are no paths on this side of the reserve, but it offers great views of the tidal basin, particularly for birds and seals.

IV25 3QG is the nearest postcode. Grid reference NH 793952.

By public transport

The nearest bus stop is in the village of Golspie, 3 kilometres from the reserve.

The nearest train station is Golspie, 3 kilometres from the reserve – on the Inverness to Wick line.

There is a cycle path all the way from the village to Balblair woods.

Map

Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve

Off the A9 between Dornoch and Golspie (three miles).

Limited bus and train services connect with Inverness and Thurso.



For visitors

Visit Loch Fleet NNR is a good introduction to the reserve.

Toilets

The nearest public toilets are in Golspie at the Fountain Road car park. They are fully accessible.

Wildlife hides

There is a wildlife hide overlooking the north shore of Loch Fleet. Access to the hide is on foot: 1 kilometre or a 20-minute walk. The route starts from the Balblair wood car park.

Picnic areas

There are two picnic tables at the end of a short surfaced path linked to Littleferry south car park. One of picnic tables is fully accessible and is on a good surface.

Rest areas

There are a number of perches and benches on Littleferry Links and in Balblair woods.

Trails for all

The car parks on both the south and north shores have information panels showing walks to enjoy on the reserve.

Seasonal highlights

A wide range of birds may be seen at any time of year. Spring and summer are best for wild flowers.

Spring

In spring look out for ospreys as they soar over the estuary, diving for fish in the shallows. The dunes start to bloom with the yellows, pinks and purples of birds-foot trefoil and delicate wild pansy. Noisy terns arrive from Africa to nest and can be seen diving for small fish in the estuary.

Summer

The old pinewoods are dotted with delicate twinflower, creeping lady’s-tresses and the candle-like flowers of one-flowered wintergreen. Butterflies flit around the dunes and harbour seals are pupping in the estuary.

Autumn

Autumn welcomes the arrival of hundreds of winter wildfowl such as greylag geese and wigeon, and waders such as dunlin and bar-tailed godwit. Try not to disturb them as they feed on the estuary. Fascinating fungi flourish, including the rare toothed fungi, which have a strong association with old pinewoods.

Winter

Winter is quieter on the reserve. This is a good time to see winter wildfowl, seals and otters in undisturbed tranquillity. The grey and soft greens of the lichen take over as other vegetation dies back. Long skeins of geese fly overhead in their characteristic V-shapes.