With some of the largest sand dunes in Britain, NatureScot's Forvie National Nature Reserve is one of Scotland's most dramatic stretches of coast. The mud flats of the Ythan Estuary provide a fast food refueling stop for many passing birds and the mouth of the estuary is a year-round haul out for seals. The wind and the tide are in charge here, and it's a great place to blow the cobwebs away with the chance of seeing some spectacular wildlife.
With the constant shifting of the dunes, layers of history have been hidden and then revealed, where the remains of a 12th century church stand firm in an ever-changing landscape. Bird life is plentiful at NatureScot's Forvie National Nature Reserve and you can watch the summer acrobatics of diving terns or the determined stabbing of the carrot-coloured beaks of wading oystercatchers.
A short, easy access trail with wheelchair-accessible picnic tables leads onto the reserve from the Forvie Centre, which has a classroom for educational use. There is also a bird hide at Waulkmill, cycle racks at the main car parks and a story trail to follow at the site of Forvie village. Waymarked paths varying in length from two to four miles can also be found at the reserve.
There are two main entrances to the reserve:
The Waterside car park is 1 mile north of Newburgh, off the A975 at River Ythan. Parking at Waterside car park is restricted to 2.2m width, no height restriction. Coaches can park in a dedicated layby at the road side or access to coach parking can be arranged in advance.
The Visitor Centre Car Park is 3 miles north of Newburgh. Turn right at the Collieston crossroads, and follow the signs to the centre. The visitor centre car park is off the B9003.
There are also a number of lay-bys just off the A975 that offer good views across the NNR. The Waulkmill Hide can be accessed by turning left off the A975 opposite the Collieston junction.
By Public Transport: Aberdeen-Peterhead (via Cruden Bay) buses stop by request at Collieston crossroads, 20 mins walk from the visitor centre, or at Oceanlab in Newburgh (1/2 mile from the estuary).
The nearest train station is Aberdeen (16 miles).
By Bike: National Cycle Network Route 1 Aberdeen - John O'Groats starts 12 miles from the Reserve, in Aberdeen. The Formartine and Buchan Way (Dyce - Fraserburgh) runs through Ellon, 6 miles from the Reserve.
On Foot: There is a path from Newburgh to Waterside car park and the mouth of the Ythan. The Formartine and Buchan Way (Dyce - Fraserburgh) starts in Dyce, 14 miles from the Reserve.