Coastal Walk: Kingsteps to Wellhill
Date: Sunday 13th March 2016
Company: Just myself
Distance: 14.7km, Ascent: 55m
Time: 4Hrs

On checking the Nairn tide forecast on Saturday evening, I discovered that low tide was at 08:40. I therefore set my alarm nice and early to allow me to drive to Nairn and start walking circa one hour before low tide. This would allow me to walk across the mud flats and salt marshes behind Culbin forest which completely flood by high tide.

The stretch of coast from Kingsteps to the Gut was my only section of unwalked coast between Aberdeen and Nairn.

Coastal Walk Index

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

I set off from the Kingsteps car park around 7.40. The temperature was warm, the air was full of birdsong, crocuses were in bloom and birds were collecting twigs to make nests. Welcome Spring!

Signs at Kingsteps car park:

Instead of walking along the edge of the forest, or within the forest, I opted to walk across the mud flats.

Coast at Kingsteps looking towards the Bar:

Culbin forest:

It was a pleasant change to walk in warmth with blue skies overhead compared with the many cold winter walks undertaken in recent months.

Nice skies:

Looking towards the salt marshes from the mud flats:

Walking the mud flats:

Despite wearing hillwalking boots and gaiters, and it being low tide, I did end up with wet feet walking the mud flats but I wasn't caring as I was enjoying the walk. If doing this walk, you may wish to take wellies.

Walking the mud flats:

Looking back towards Nairn:

Numerous geese were standing on the mud flats from Kingsteps to the Bar. They all took flight before I got anywhere near them.

Lots of Geese:

Walking the mud flats:

Beyond the mud flats, I crossed the Bar to gain access to the beach.

Crossing the Bar onto the beach:

While the beach sand was much drier to walk on, the wildlife was limited compared with the mud flats.

Looking back along the beach:

Vast expanse of beach at low tide:

As I walked along the beach, I came across numerous poles stuck into the sand. I suspected they may be something to do with fishing but was wrong. These poles were apparently erected during WWII to prevent aircraft from landing on the beach. This section of beach was apparently used to train for the D-day landings.

Anti-glider poles:

Looking across the Moray Firth to Cromarty Firth:

As I walked along the beach, I came across a solitary set of footprints which I followed for circa 0.5km. I have not been able to confirm what animal made the footprints but suspect either a badger, fox or a very small dog.

Following footsteps in the sand:

After standing for a while watching a seal, I made my way back inland towards the edge of Culbin forest.

Lots of shells:

The barnacles on the anti-glider posts confirm that this area is flooded with circa 3 feet of water at high tide. This is definitely a low tide walk!

Barnacles on the anti-glider poles showing sea level at high tide:

Crossing worm casts to the edge of the forest:

On reaching the edge of the forest, I continued as far as the Gut. I had previously visited here on walking from Forres to the Gut, via Findhorn Bay.

The Gut:

On my last visit, I ascended Hill 99. I decided to revisit in order to again ascend the tower which is located next to Hill 99.

Hill 99:

The Tower is a great facility in the middle of the fantastic Culbin forest. This forest was planted in the 1920s.

Tower at Hill 99:

Looking over Culbin forest from atop the tower:

From Hill99, I made my way to the Wellhill car park near Kintessack where my friend John was kind enough to pick me up and drive me back to my car at Kingsteps. Thanks John.

Signs at Wellhill car park:

This is a really interesting section of coast but one to take care on if not walking at low tide as there is potential to get cut off by the tide.