Loch Fleet

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Loch Fleet
Loch Fleet from the east bank.jpg
View from Littleferry looking inland.
Location south of Golspie, Sutherland
Coordinates grid reference NH7896Coordinates: 57°57′N 4°4′W / 57.950°N 4.067°W / 57.950; -4.067
Basin countries Scotland
Official name Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet
Designated 24 March 1997
Reference no. 897[1]

Loch Fleet (Scottish Gaelic: Loch Fleòid) is a sea loch on the east coast of Scotland, located between Golspie and Dornoch. It forms the estuary of the River Fleet, a small spate river that rises in the hills east of Lairg.

Designations[edit]

Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve[edit]

Loch Fleet was designated a National Nature Reserve (NNR) in 1998, and is managed by a partnership between Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) and Sutherland Estates. The NNR extends to 1058 hectares, including the Loch Fleet tidal basin, sand dunes, shingle ridges and the adjacent pine woods, including Balbair Wood and Ferry Wood.

Geography and geology[edit]

Loch Fleet is a shallow, bar-built estuary with extensive sand-flats and mud-flats backed by saltmarsh and sand dunes.[2] Beneath the sand dunes lies a bedrock of old Red Sandstone, overlain by shingle ridges, which extend from the western NNR boundary to the current coastline and north from Littleferry to Golspie.[3]

Flora and fauna[edit]

On 24 March 1997, the Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet Special Protection Area (SPA) was established for wildlife conservation.[2] The SPA covers 7,836.33 hectares (19,364 acres) of Loch Fleet, the Dornoch Firth, Morrich More, the Mound Alderwoods and Tarbat Ness.[2] The Joint Nature Conservation Committee described it as "one of the best examples in northwest Europe of a large complex estuary which has been relatively unaffected by industrial development".[2]

The total SPA hosts significant populations of the following birds:

Heading inland, the alder woods around the mouth of the river at the Mound are significant.

History[edit]

The ruins of Skelbo Castle are situated on the south side of the loch.

The Battle of Littleferry was fought a few days before the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The Sutherland militia came down from the hills above Golspie and fell upon around 500 men led by the Earl of Cromarty. Cromarty's men were cornered in the Littleferry peninsula on the northeast side of the loch, and were either killed, captured, or drowned in the loch.

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]