Monday, 06 March 2023
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This diverse and ever-changing coastal forest has a fascinating network of tracks to explore on foot or by bike. Hill 99 is the only waymarked trail, but by using the recommendations in our free map and following our numbered junction posts you can easily make your own adventure. If it's your first visit, you'll certainly not want to miss the panoramic views from the top of the Hill 99 tower over the high trees of the forest across to Easter Ross.
A gentle wander through pretty pine and birch woodland, and around the Gravel Pit Ponds.
Firm and smooth gravel surface. Generally flat with gentle slopes and some short moderate sections. No obstacles.
Allow ½ an hour
Wind through the pine-covered sand dunes to the viewing tower on Hill 99 for a ‘squirrel’s eye’ view over the forest and across the Moray Firth.
Largely wide, firm and smooth gravel and sandy surface. Generally flat with some long moderate slopes and short steep sections. Includes some steps up to the viewing platform.
Allow 2 hours
The path winds through the forest to the Gravelpit Ponds, a pretty stop for a picnic or birdwatching, then across shingle ridges and through lichen beds to gently climb Hill 99, Culbin's highest sand dune at a dizzy 99 feet. On a clear day you can see over the sea to the Sutherland hills! Return through mossy glades, passing the Dragonfly Pond, which teems with wildlife.
The trail starts at Wellhill car park.
With a forest stretching for more than 8½ miles along an ever-shifting coastline, there's lots to discover. Here are our top twelve things to see and do – a useful guide, especially if you’ve never visited before. They’re all marked in the Culbin leaflet – and there are plenty of stories about the place there too.
Most of Culbin’s shoreline, from the trees to the low tide mark, is an RSPB reserve. This mix of saltmarsh, mudflats, sand and shingle is a vital feeding ground for wading birds throughout the year. If you do come across nesting birds, allow them to feed and rest in peace. If they have to fly away, they are wasting valuable energy.
Culbin is a good places to watch seals too. Do keep your distance though - They frighten easily, so are best admired from a distance.
The toilet block at the main car park is open year-round. It includes easy access facilities and a baby changing station. There is a cafe and shop at Brodie Countryfare on the A96, near Brodie Castle.
The charges to park at Culbin are:
Please park with care and consideration. In particular please park in designated parking areas only and do not block entrances or gates. Nearby car parks with free parking can be found in our local forest list without the £ symbol.
Available in advance by downloading the relevant application form and emailing to the Regional Office. Please read our Annual Pass terms and conditions before applying.
Valid at Roseisle, Culbin, Whiteash, Back o'Bennachie, Bennachie Centre, Countesswells, Foggieton, Scolty.
Valid at all Forestry and Land Scotland car parks except Tentsmuir.
Blue badge holders park free. Please display your Blue Badge clearly.
Culbin is on the north side of the A96 between Nairn and Forres. If coming from the west, the turning for Culbin is on the left just after the large Brodie Countryfare shop. If coming from the east, take the turning for 'Broom of Moy' and 'Kintessack' a mile out of Forres. The routes to the car park are well signposted from both turnings.
National Cycle Route 1 runs through the south side of Culbin, around half a mile from the main car park.
You can walk into Culbin from Nairn East Beach – a good option if you’re interested in birdwatching and coastal wildlife.
IV36 2TG is the nearest postcode.
Public transport to Culbin is extremely limited, although a local bus service passes the forest on schooldays. Forres is a ten minute taxi ride away. Plan your journey at Traveline Scotland.
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Cycle forest trails or relax on sandy beaches
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