Sky's the limit at Skelbo
Families love the variety in Skelbo, from dipping for mini beasts in the wildlife pond beside the car park to hunting out the chainsaw-carved woodland creatures along the trail. It's a fun forest full of interesting twists and turns, open views and fascinating features, including the remains of an iron age broch and some impressive drystone walls.
Our map guide to the forests of the Far North will help you explore Skelbo and other forest trails in Sutherland.
There are public toilets and places to eat in Dornoch 3 ½ miles (5.6 km) away.
Wander down to Skelbo Burn, listening for birdsong and spying sculptured carvings among the pines, before returning past the remains of a 200-year old broch.
Firm gravel surface with uneven and occasionally muddy sections. One long fairly steep slope. Includes some steps and a narrow bridge.
1 ½ miles / 2.6 km Allow 1 hour
Follow this route in different seasons and you’ll always find something new to see. The trail winds down through rich mature conifers, crosses a narrow bridge and then follows the burn through open regenerating broadleaf trees. There are lovely views over to Loch Fleet as the trail rises slowly back to the car park past the remains of a broch.
Mountain biking trails
Water for the farm
The forest takes its name from the Skelbo burn which bubbles under two bridges on its way to nearby Loch Fleet, a tidal estuary that’s an important stopover for flocks of migrating birds. The burn once supplied water for surrounding farms and you can still see the 1940s pumphouse beside the first bridge.
We’ve thinned the conifers here to bring more light into the forest and now there are young alder, birch and rowan trees springing up along the trail and more open places for wildlife to thrive. The forest provides a range of habitats for frogs, newts and insects, as well as herons and many woodland birds. You might even see a roe deer among the trees.
The chainsaw carvings you can find along the trail were made by Pete Bowsher, based on designs by local children.
How to get here
Skelbo is just off the A9 between Dornoch and Golspie.
From Dornoch take the B9168 (Poles Road) from the war memorial, turning right onto the A9 after 2 miles (3.2 km) near the Trentham Hotel. Continue north for just under a mile (1.6 km) until you see the Skelbo forest signs. Turn right here and the car park will be on your left at grid reference NH 780 942.
From the south, take the A9 north towards Dornoch and follow the directions from the Trentham Hotel.
From Golspie and the north follow the A9 south for 7 ¼ miles (11.6 km) until you see the Skelbo forest signs. Turn left here and the car park will be on your left at grid reference NH 780 941.
The nearest postcode is IV25 3JG, which is a little further north on the A9.
Sorry there is no public transport to Skelbo.
The nearby tidal estuary of Loch Fleet is a fantastic place to watch wildlife all year round. There's a Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve here and a National Nature Reserve and a bird hide made from home grown Scots pine timber. There are also forest trails nearby in Camore and Aldie Burn, as well as The Big Burn Walk, a spectacular gorge walk in Golspie.
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