S – The walk starts at the Court House but you can begin anywhere. The administrative centre of the town was built as Nairn Court House in 1818; a steeple was added in 1860. This was the site of the old tollbooth first recorded in the late 16th century, and altered and rebuilt in 1750 and 1811. Don’t miss The Market Cross to the left of the main entrance. This red sandstone pillar was erected in 1757 to replace an older cross which would probably have stood outside the old tollbooth. The cross was moved to its present location in 1968 following road improvements.
1 – Rose’s Town House. Although this is a comparatively recent building on the outside, the premises incorporates a much older building which was once the Town House of the Roses of Kilravock (Kil-rock). The Duke of Cumberland stayed here in 1746, the night before the Battle of Culloden, while Prince Charlie dined with the Rose’s at their ancestral home, Kilravock Castle.
2 – Bus Station indicated as this may be a starting point for your walk.
3 – Nairn Museum. Walk up Viewfield and take in a visit to Nairn Museum. From 1858, the Museum became the treasure store of unusual objects gathered locally and from around the world and includes exhibits from the old Fishertown Museum that tells the story of the fisherfolk of Nairn and their close-knit community, with whole families supporting the fishermen at sea by being involved with all the associated work of mending nets, baiting lines, and providing warm clothing. People like Dr John Grigor had the foresight to preserve a great variety of memorabilia, and to foster an interest in local history with the formation of the Nairn Literary Institute. There is a path behind the Museum that leads to Nairn Leisure Park but we suggest you head back to the A96 or you’ll miss one of Nairn’s most iconic views.
4 – Wallace Bandstand, Links and Cricket Pitch. From the museum follow the route down the A96 and turn left along Bath St. You’ll exit at the Braeval Hotel onto one of Nairn’s most spectacular views. The Bandstand was officially opened on the 23rd July 1888, funded by a £300 bequest left by John Wallace – a Nairnshire man, who had emigrated to Australia. Wallace was a pioneer in the Victoria, Australia and the plaque was placed in his memory after he died at Ballark, Australia in 1882. He was a pioneer who became one of the most successful and respected pastoralists in Victoria. Cricket was introduced to Nairn by English labourers working on the construction of the Inverness-Nairn railway line in the 1850s.
5 – Leisure Park and Victorian Shelter. Activities for children including putting green and crazy golf. Don’t miss James’ Cafe at the putting green. The Shelter was built by Nairn’s benefactor, Dr John Grigor, in the late 19th century to mark his triumph over the local council who had wanted to build a cannon battery on the site. Such a move would have disturbed guests at his nearby Royal Marine Hotel. At the shelter you’ll be able to enjoy one of the best views of the Nairn beaches and across the Moray Firth towards the Black Isle. Keep your eyes peeled as you may be lucky to see the famous Moray Firth Dolphins.
6 – Nairn Leisure Centre. If you walk along to the leisure centre, you’ll pass the outdoor fitness centre on your left. The Centre has a 25 meter swimming pool with viewing are; a 28-station fitness suite and steam room.
8 – Nairn Fishwife statue and Harbour. The statue is based on Annie Ralph, one of Nairn’s last fishwives. They worked with their menfolk, cleaning and packing fish in salt water barrels or by smoking them – the Nairn Spelding. Fishwives travelled around the area, on foot and by train, selling the Nairn Spelding from the creels on their backs. The original harbour was constructed to the design of Thomas Telford in 1821 and was once home to a busy fishing fleet of over 100 boats. The present Nairn Harbour was built in 1932 after much controversy. It was too late for the fleet to benefit from the new facilities as the industry was already in decline. On leaving the Harbour you have the choice of crossing the river and walking up the left bank, OR staying on the right bank and walking up past Swan Island.
9 – Swan Island. So named as it has been home to a resident pair of swans for over 9 years. The Swans and the river wildlife is on the must-see list of many visitors to Nairn. To avoid crossing the A96 take the pedestrian bridge across the river and turn right. Follow the path under the road bridge and turn immediately left and left again along the A96, then back up the High St to where you began.
Longer walks One of the most popular walks starts from the harbour and heads west long the promenade for about 3km before turning inland to Delnies Wood and then looping back to the shore. Covering a total of 10km over fairly easy terrain, this walk includes some stunning views including an overview the town.
The harbour is also the starting point for a walk along the River Nairn to Cawdor. The beautiful stretch of riverside is home to a variety of birds and wildlife and is a restful experience surrounded by trees and the sound of the water. At Cawdor there’s a choice of five different waymarked nature trails within woods surrounding the historic castle. The walks vary in length from three-quarters of a mile to five miles. Four of the five trails start from the Flower Garden and the violet trail starts from the Blue bridge.
From the East Beach car park, a cycle trail leads through the sand dunes to the RSPB coastal reserve, home to many over-wintering ducks and waders. Also see this local bird watchers blog Walk or cycle a little further and you come to Culbin Forest, which is well worth exploring. Look out for the red squirrels which scamper through the tree tops.
If you would like to “walk with buzzards”, head for the Ord Hill woodland tracks on the outskirts of Nairn. The mixed conifer plantation is home to these magnificent birds of prey. Further from Nairn there are walks around the River Findhorn at Randolph’s Leap – a relatively easy 4km ramble starting from Logie Steading.
Check out the wonders of Whiteness Head, walking along salt marsh and shingle shores. The adventurous can go on a Nairn Bat Walk, usually in September, when a short presentation on the creatures is followed by a walk around the town. Cawdor Estates’ ranger provides a range of guided walks to cater for all abilities.
Choose from a walk on Cawdor’s expansive moorland and take in spectacular views, or enjoy a quiet walk along the river. Look out for a leaflet in the tourist information centre called “Paths around Nairn”, which gives details of all the walks in the area and includes a handy map.