Where we are
Walk with the waves and spot sea-shells among the dunes
Tentsmuir is a magical combination of forest trails that dip and weave between tall trees and open sand dunes. There’s rich wildlife, from coastal grassland dotted with wildflowers in spring and summer to great flocks of sea birds that come to feed on shellfish.
If you're lucky you may see red squirrels in the trees, and roe deer weaving through the undergrowth. You might even see seals basking on the sand!
The Morton Lochs on the western edge of the forest are part of Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve and there are four hides where you can watch waterbirds and dragonflies. The dunes and sand flats at Tentsmuir Point and Tayport Heath are all part of the reserve too.
People have lived, hunted and worked here for thousands of years. Tools and a fire pit from a Stone Age hunters’ camp have been found near Morton Lochs. In the second world war, Tentsmuir was part of a long line of defences along Scotland’s east coast. Polish troops who were based here built hundreds of concrete blocks as an anti-tank barrier. Once at the sea’s edge, now many of them are buried in the dunes. Every time the sand shifts, there’s a chance that new evidence of Tentsmuir’s past might be uncovered.
Ice House Trail
Wind through sand dunes and pine forest to discover the 19th century ice house and some World War II pillboxes.
Largely firm, uneven sandy surface. Several short steep ramps. Includes a short rougher section, exposed tree roots and parts that may be wet.
Allow 2 hours
Explore the winding dunes
Tentsmuir is an ideal place for easy cycling, with a good network of firm, level trails. You can hire bikes in Tayport and Leuchars. It’s great for horse riding too, with pine-scented forest, windswept sands and a wonderful range of wildlife. The coast here is one of Scotland’s most dynamic landscapes: parts of the shoreline are growing out into the sea at a rate of five metres a year.
Close to the car park you’ll find picnic tables and a children’s play area, and a short walk will take you to the beach with its sea views and sand dunes.
Be safe by the sea
It might look tempting, but swimming here is dangerous because of fast moving tides and shifting sand. If you are walking out on the sands, watch the sea and don’t let the rising tide cut you off.
Facilities & access
Watch out for ticks
Ticks can be found in woodland, moorland, grassland and parks, and are most active between March and October. Find out how to check for ticks after a visit to the countryside here.
The car park opens at 8am daily, and can be very busy at popular times. From April to September it closes at 8.30pm and from October to March it closes at sunset. The gate is locked when the car park is closed and you will not be able to drive in or out. Please check the closing time on the board at the entrance.
Car park charges
The car park costs £2 per vehicle, payable at the automatic barrier. You’ll need to have the correct change. If you come here often you can buy a season ticket for £60 plus VAT - get in touch with us for more details. Find out more about pay parking.
Horseboxes are not allowed in the car park, however alternative parking is available at Kinshaldy Stables.
Food and drink
The Crepe Shack offers delicious authentic French crepes, tea, coffee and cold drinks. It's onsite throughout the summer from 10am to 5pm every day.
Bring a barbecue
One stray spark from a fire could destroy the whole forest. To keep the trees – and visitors – safe, no fires are allowed in the forest or on the beach, but you’re welcome to bring a barbecue. Use the barbecues in the picnic area on one of the special barbecue plates, and please remember to take used barbecues home with you.
To help keep Tentsmuir welcoming and safe for everyone, a byelaw prohibits alcohol on the site.
Lunar Yellow Underwing survey: Part 2
Part 1: Friday 23 September from 7pm, and/or Saturday 24 August from 10am
Join Forestry and Land Scotland and Butterfly Conservation Scotland staff to help set moth traps across Tentsmuir Forest. A wonderful chance to come and see the huge variety of insect life at Tentsmuir, including the Lunar Yellow Underwing, a rare species not seen in over a decade. All moths will be released the following morning unharmed.
Come along and help set up the traps on the Friday evening, and bring your own trap along if you have one. Or just come along on the Sunday morning to see what has been caught. Meet at Forestry and Land Scotland’s Kinshaldy car park in Tentsmuir Forest at 10am on both the Saturday and Sunday mornings (please note that there is a £2 fee for using the car park).
If you are able to help us set up the moth traps on the Friday and/or Saturday evenings, or want to bring your own please let us know. We will meet at 7pm at the same place. Stout walking shoes and a good sense of humour are recommended!
For more information contact:
Tom Prescott, Butterfly Conservation Scotland
Tel: 01540 661469. Mob: 07979 785665
Wildlife walk with RSPB Scotland
Join RSPB Scotland and Forestry and Land Scotland for a free guided walk along the coast of Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve from Tayport. It's a chance to learn more about the fascinating story of the reintroduction of sea eagles on the east coast, as well as an opportunity to search for waders, red squirrels and other wildlife that make the Tay estuary their home.
The walk is FREE. Book your place at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wildlife-walk-at-tentsmuir-nnr-31819-tickets-65406178641
Bring sturdy shoes, outdoor clothes and a bite to eat. Binoculars will be available to borrow but please feel free to bring your own.
Tentsmuir Forest is 1½ miles (2.4 km) east of the B945 between Leuchars and Tayport in northeast Fife. Follow signs for Kinshaldy Beach.
KY16 0DR is the closest postcode for Tentsmuir.
The nearest bus stops are in Tayport and Leuchars. Buses will stop by request at the Morton Loch road end, from where you can walk to Morton Lochs and then into the forest. Check Traveline Scotland for details.
There are small car parks at Morton Lochs and Tayport, from where you can walk or cycle into the forest.
Get in touch
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