Organisation purchases northern point of British mainland


RSPB Scotland has announced that it has purchased the nature reserve at Dunnet Head, the northernmost point of mainland Britain, after receiving a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The dramatic coastal headland of Caithness, which boasts 300-feet-high cliffs, is home to thousands of breeding seabirds such as Puffin, Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Northern Fulmar and Kittiwake.

The conservation charity has been leasing and managing the 40-acre site as a reserve since May 2008, but has now come to an agreement with the previous owner, Mr Ben Colson, to actually buy what it hopes will be a popular showcase for the country's marine wildlife. Dunnet Head Nature Reserve lies approximately 13 miles east of Thurso and commands dramatic views across the Pentland Firth and towards the islands of Orkney.

Dunnet Head at the very north of mainland Scotland is now owned, rather than leased, by the RSPB (Photo: Andy Hay/RSPB images)

RSPB Scotland site manager Dave Jones said: "Dunnet Head really is an amazing place. The views across to Orkney are absolutely stunning, but for us the most important aspect is the breeding seabirds and the opportunity this sites gives visitors to see these charismatic [species]. Many of our seabirds are in serious decline so it is crucial that their breeding sites are properly protected.

"We are delighted to be taking over as custodians for this special place. Ben Colson and his family have cared for Dunnet Head for many years and, like Ben, we wish to see this amazing seabird city looked after for future generations to enjoy."

Mr Colson said: "We owned the land at Dunnet Head for over a quarter of a century and our objective throughout has been to ensure that it is not commercially developed. So, while sad to be ending our relationship with the headland, we are delighted to have been able to agree this sale with RSPB Scotland who I am confident will ensure it continues as a place of wild beauty."

Head of HLF Scotland Lucy Casot said: "Our natural heritage is a most precious resource and, thanks to National Lottery players, [our] grants have helped to protect an amazing range of landscapes, habitats and species of plants and animals. HLF is delighted to support the Dunnet Head Nature Reserve project, that will stimulate people's interest in the natural world and so help them conserve it for future generations."

Written by: RSPB Scotland