Popular with tourists and locals alike, this waymarked circular path meanders through varied forest environments, and there is a shorter path suitable for all abilities. The forest is home to carved sculptures, a log cabin, a hidden playpark, a community roundhouse, and even a giant wooden xylophone! For the enthusiasts, an abundance of wildlife, plantlife, and fungi awaits - but please remember to respect our natural places and leave no trace.
The land on which Dunnet Forest now grows was purchased in 1954 by the Forestry Commission, as an experiment in silviculture on poor soils.
Driven by a need to replenish future timber crops after their depletion during WW2, it was initially intention to be a much larger forest surrounding Dunnet Bay and stretching to Castletown, but this never came to fruition. The current owners, NatureScot (previously Scottish Natural Heritage), acquired the land from the Forestry Commission in 1984. A range of tree species was planted, but the forest is now dominated by sitka spruce and pines including lodgepole, Corsican and mountain, with a few broadleaf species, such as sycamore.
Dunnet Forest represents an extensive, publicly accessible woodland that is rare in the north of Scotland, and the physical development of the forest has been matched by its growth in importance as a recreational facility for locals and tourists, and as an educational resource. An EU-funded project in the late 1990s upgraded much of the path network, and created an all-abilities trail that continues to be maintained.
There is an ongoing threat to the long-term future of the forest - as trees mature they reach a height that makes them vulnerable to windthrow, particularly in such an exposed location.
Dunnet Forest is the most northerly community woodland on the UK mainland!