St Cyrus NNR. Grampian Area. ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

St Cyrus NNR - Visiting the reserve

With spectacular flowering grasslands, sand dunes, beaches, butterflies, bugs and birdlife, St Cyrus NNR has something for everyone.




Update August 2020

The car parks at St Cyrus NNR are open but extremely busy and are full most days. If you turn up and the car park is full please do not park on the road verges but look for somewhere else to visit. 

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

By car

From Montrose, head 8 kilometres north on the A92. St Cyrus NNR is signposted on the right, immediately before the Northwater Bridge over the River Esk. Follow the single track road for 2.5 kilometres to the car park and visitor centre.

There is space for a single coach outside the reserve office.

The car park has a height restriction of 2.1 metres. There is informal space with no restrictions outside the office. This can be used by motorhomes over 2.1 metres high, but it’s not reserved for this.

DD10 0AQ is the nearest postcode.

By public transport

The nearest bus stop is in St Cyrus village (2.5 kilometres) on the Aberdeen to Montrose route.

The nearest station is at Montrose (8 kilometres) on the Aberdeen to Edinburgh line.

By bike

Leave NCN Route 1 (Edinburgh to Aberdeen), on the Montrose to Stonehaven section. Take the minor road east off the A92 just north of Northwater Bridge (approximately 3 kilometres south of St Cyrus village). This is signposted St Cyrus NNR. Follow the single track road for 2.5 kilometres to the car park and visitor centre.


St Cyrus National Nature Reserve

Four miles north of Montrose, signposted from the A92, leading to the main car park and visitor centre.

Alternatively, there is a small car park at the end of Beach Road, past the church, and access from this point is via a steep path.

Bus service from Aberdeen and Montrose to St Cyrus village.


For visitors

Visit St Cyrus is a good introduction to the reserve.

Visitor centre

Open daily between April and October.

Open Monday to Friday between November and March.

Explore the natural and cultural heritage of the reserve through the displays in the visitor centre. Check the sightings and information board for regular updates on events and the species you are likely to see.

Telephone: 01674 830736


There are public toilets next to the visitor centre. They are open daily from April to October, and Monday to Friday from November to March.

Wildlife hide

Follow the path through the field to the south of the visitor centre to get to the wildlife hide overlooking the River Esk and estuary.

Trails for all

The Beach Trail is a short route to a viewpoint overlooking the beach. You can do an out-and-back walk, or go futher and explore the beach.

The Estuary Trail takes you to the wildlife hide on the River Esk.

The Tyrie Trail takes in many of the highlights of the site – including natural heritage, history and bird life. The trail is accompanied by an interesting and informative leaflet.

In summer, the Floo’ery Meads Trail leads you through the dune grasslands with their rich plant life. There are information panels about the fascinating plants along the way.

The southern part of the reserve is not open between April and August. This is to protect breeding birds, which are sensitive to any disturbance. But you can still visit the hide on the River Esk, using the Estuary Trail.

Please keep dogs on a lead or close to heel until you reach the beach during the bird breeding season – 1 April to 31 August.

Seasonal highlights

Spring and summer are best for plants, butterflies, lizards, invertebrates and breeding birds and winter for wading birds, wildfowl and dramatic views.


The reserve comes to life in spring with the arrival of the many species of migrating breeding birds. These nest side by side with our resident breeding birds and include stonechats, grasshopper warbler, reed buntings and yellowhammer. You can also see fulmars, peregrine falcons, buzzard and raven nesting on the cliffs.

Wildflowers begin to appear, and slender celandine and delicate primroses mix with snowdrops, cowslips and oxlips. Listen out for the first cuckoo and willow warbler!


The dunes are a riot of colour, with yellows, purples and pinks of lady’s bedstraw, rest-harrow and maidenpink. The bright purple clustered bell-flower carpets the dunes, and northern marsh orchids grow in their thousands among the dunes and surrounding grasslands.

Butterflies and moths abound, and the dunes are dotted with the common blue, small copper, meadow brown and ringlet butterflies. Look out for young peregrine falcons and ravens fledging their nests high on the cliffs and learning how to master the air! Visiting humpback whale, minke and bottle nose dolphin all feed in the rich waters offshore.


Autumn storms batter the coastline, with dramatic white horses on the crests of the waves. Migratory geese arrive on the southern end of the reserve in autumn – mostly pinkfooted geese. Fungi are plentiful on the dunes. Look out for the parasol mushrooms with their large caps and the beautifully coloured wax caps that burst into fruit.


Winter is a good time to see the roe deer that live at St Cyrus. You may also spot otters on the southern part of the reserve. Birdwatchers can enjoy the overwintering birds. These include waders, such as redshank, and curlew with its haunting call. You can also see visiting short-eared owl, as well as many species of visiting ducks and geese.

The winter storms wash many interesting items onto the beach, making it a beachcombers paradise. You never know what the tide may bring in – from octopus to hundreds of beautiful delicate brittle stars.