Ten members set off from the Cloddymoss car park toward the sea, walking on well established forest road. The usual slow, observatory pace brought the group to the shore on a very high tide right at lunch time.
The return deviated toward the high observation tower, passing wet patches, dryer open patches of forest, tall widely spaced mature trees, densely spaced young trees, moss and tree covered dune systems, and several junctions. Most junctions were numbered to help identify one’s location; hence the Where Are We?
The Culbin area of about 28 sq km is managed by the Forestry Commission. Organised forestry has been planted and harvested since 1837. 1914-18 wartime cutting had offered the dunes a chance to start moving and for erosion to re-commence, hence land purchase by the Forestry Commission and planting regimes were implemented during the 1920’s.
From the date of the first maps, Pont, 1590, the Findhorn River has had an interesting and varied history of flowing straight out to sea or flowing west to Nairn behind a bar. Various attempts to limit turf cutting and other human ravaging of the coastal sands culminated in 1694 when the ‘Barony of Culbin’ was buried forcing abandonment of the village.
Described as the ‘Granary of Moray’, for its productivity, reports since 1100 exist of sand invading the ‘Barony of Moray’ and reducing its supportive potential until the Great Sandstorm of 1694.
The beginning must be 250 million years ago when the underlying Old Red Sandstone was laid down in equatorial waters. This provides a huge reservoir of sand for erosion and transport. Latterly the glacial period offered flows of ice and water bringing huge sediment loads down the major rivers from the higher interior. Even later, about 6500 years ago the balance between rising sea levels, (global ice melting), and rising land, (rebound from being freed from the weight of the glacial cover), resulted in a slow receding of sea level from the base of a 5 to 10 metre high coastal cliff. This cliff, at the 10m or 20m contour is still evident extending from Hopeman to beyond Nairn. The ‘flat’ exposed sea floor is now a major area of Culbin.
The lowering of sea level caused the bottom sediments to be exposed to wave action driving loose material toward the beach. The inward transport of river sediments added to what became a huge sediment budget surplus. The storms, surges, currents and winds have moved the sands and pebbles into the accumulations of bars, ridges and dunes now seen on the wide flat Culbin area. See Hansom.