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Stroll from Nairn offers best of both worlds

By Peter Evans

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Heading back towards the A96 from Delnies Wood.
Heading back towards the A96 from Delnies Wood.

Living in the countryside – and especially by the sea – is reckoned to be better for your mental and physical health. So a walk that takes in both seascape and greenspace is the perfect combination.

And that's exactly what this circuit from Nairn does, making the most of the town's award-winning east beach and the serenity of Delnies Wood, teeming with birdlife.

The walk starts from Nairn's Maggot car park and begins by crossing the bridge over the river and rounding the harbour towards the Sun Dancer restaurant.

The tide was out when Rosemary and I did this circuit, so we were able to get onto the sand and stroll west towards Nairn golf club, with a brisk sea breeze in our faces and views across the Moray Firth to the opposite coast. The promenade above the beach can be used if the tide is in.

We stayed on firm sand to walk past the clubhouse below the sea defence boulders. Alternatively, walk above the boulders at the edge of the golf course. Some distance along, a breach in the boulders leads to a track bisecting the golf course. A red-roofed building is a good landmark.

Follow the track, keeping a wary eye out for flying golf balls, and go through barriers on either side of another track. We continued straight ahead, with houses on the left, to pass between two boulders.

An information board soon appears with a footpath marked on it and details of wildlife to be seen on the walk, including red squirrels and bar-tailed godwits – long-beaked wading birds that visit our shores in winter.

A marker post with a white arrow on a green disc points the way along a path between the golf course and a field. Birds thronged the gorse and trees here, while vibrant wild flowers lined the path.

The path becomes a track and we walked on towards some ramshackle farm buildings and the gable end of a house at Easter Delnies. Our route then took us right, downhill, past a house and between fields, towards the sea again.

Another marker post points left, still following the line of the golf course, with a prominent turf-roofed white building ahead – presumably a former ice-house.

Cross a little bridge over a burn and turn right on a sandy path towards the beach. This is a peaceful place for a picnic and we sat on boulders to gaze across the sea and watch oystercatchers search for food on the sand.

From here follow a path west, just above the beach, which bears left through gorse and heads towards farm buildings at Hilton of Delnies.

A minor road leads from the buildings to the B9092 Ardersier road. There is a path marked with a white arrow on the other side of the road but it's somewhat overgrown, so it's easier to walk along the road a short way then enter the wood. Shortly the marked path arrives at the busy A96 which we crossed to enter Delnies Wood just left of a caravan park.

We followed arrow markers through this lovely wood, spotting a tree creeper, long-tailed tits and other small birds, to reach the minor road just east of Moss Side, where there's another information board. Re-entering the wood on the left, we took a path beside a fence which exits the wood, with open views towards the sea, and goes downhill towards the A96 once more.

Cross the road and follow the path opposite towards the golf course, re-tracing your steps back to Nairn and the Maggot car park – but not before enjoying a well-earned ice-cream or coffee and cake in a café to round off the walk.

Boats in Nairn harbour.
Boats in Nairn harbour.

Route details

Nairn circuit

Distance 6 miles / 10km

Terrain Sandy beach, woodland paths and minor road

Start/finish Maggot car park, Nairn

Map OS Landranger 27, Nairn and Forres

A pleasant amble around a marked Nairn trail with beach and sea views added on

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