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RSPB Scotland snaps up nature reserve at most northern point of British mainland

Last modified: 05 February 2016

Dunnet Head

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

The dramatic coastal headland of Caithness, which boasts three-hundred feet-high cliffs, is home to thousands of breeding seabirds like puffins, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and kittiwakes.

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 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.

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 birds. Many of our seabird species 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.”

Ben 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, whilst 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.”

Lucy Casot, Head of HLF Scotland, said: “Our natural heritage is a most precious resource and, thanks to National Lottery players, HLF 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.”

The Dunnet Head Nature Reserve project will see new leaflets detailing the natural and archaeological heritage of the site produced for 2016 and guided walks carried out during the visitor season to enhance the visitor experience at RSPB Scotland’s most recently acquired nature reserve.