River walk to remember what sounds unlikely but is true

Route: Nairn to Cawdor by the river

Date walked: 24/03/2021

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 18km

Moira and I first walked this route in May 2013 when I was trying out a new camera lens and what I ended up with was a series of shots of flora and fauna not suitable for a trip report.

Here is a sample.










With continuing covid restrictions we had run out of local walks we'd not done and decided to revisit the Nairn to Cawdor river walk. So on 24th March 2021 we parked both cars in the space opposite a former coffee shop in Cawdor, now permanently closed, and joined the path from the B9090 on the east side of the bridge over the Cawdor burn. This is not the way WH describes the route which has it starting in Nairn, but doing it this way is more economical for fuel if coming from the west.

It's a good path which at this point is popular with dog walkers.

Path starting in Cawdor and lots to sniff

We followed the main path on the outward leg of the route, ignoring paths off to the left that went nearer to the river, which we did take on the return. The Cawdor burn soon joins the River Nairn which our route closely followed for the rest of the way.

Peter and I lived in Nairn for two years in the 1970s (second son has distinction of being one of the last babies to be born in Nairn Town and County Hospital, before all maternity cases were sent to Inverness) so I've an affection for this river, one of my regular dog and pram walks for those two years.

River Nairn

Beach of river sand here

There are stretches of the river used for line fishing, where for obvious reasons dogs have to be kept on lead, but we didn't see any sign of fishing activity so at suitable spots I let Keira in for a swim. A typical lab, she loves retrieving and I know I can get her immediate attention if there's any counter attraction.

First swim for the dog


View back towards Cawdor (Moira's pic)

It's a lovely and I think underrated river - but not complaining about that, as means it's not overrun with folk.

Beautiful River Nairn


There used to be a seat at Graeme's pool but that has now gone. It's still a tranquil spot for a break and when we were there crocuses were blooming.

Graeme's pool

Graeme was a keen young angler who died at 14 and this was a favourite fishing pool for him hence the plaque in his memory.

In memory of Graeme


White butterbur in foreground - we saw lots of it

At Howford bridge we crossed the road and turned briefly down a minor road, before turning left on to a narrow path following the course of the river.

Information board at Howford bridge

At a fork in the path it wasn't clear which way to take and initially we took the wrong fork which led to the water's edge and no further, so we backtracked and took the right fork that climbs a bit. It was then we met Nigel and Hilary who had decided on the same walk as we had but had started it in Nairn.

Fork in path and Nigel appearing over Moira's shoulder

It wasn't long before we reached Firhall bridge which we crossed and were soon into the residential fringe of Nairn. Many of these houses have been built since our two years in Nairn, but the river was the same.

Firhall bridge

Are we crossing here? Yes!

One of several riverside seats as we approached Nairn

We didn't sit on that seat but another soon after it for lunch. It wasn't far from Nairn Town & County hospital, where our second son was born on 14th June 1976. Not many babies were born there, but if it was for a second child and there had been no previous problems, it was possible.

Douglas was born at 11.50 am and later that day another baby was born at 11.50 pm, a second daughter to a woman with the same first name as mine and the same surname initial. What was even more surprising was discovering we (the mothers) shared the exact same birth date in 1948, were married the same month in 1970 and each had our first child weeks apart in 1974. Sister Douglas, who delivered the babies, thought it should go in the local paper, a suggestion we laughed off at the time. I later visited the other mum at her home, a farm near Cawdor, but we moved to Dundee a year later and lost contact. I remember her baby's name was Victoria. If anyone reads this and recognises the family it would be amazing to get in touch again!

Sister Connie Douglas with our Douglas the day he came home from hospital

Connie became a good friend, even after we moved away, and when Douglas was 12 I brought him up to visit her when she was a patient in that same hospital. She was so happy to introduce the nurses to one of her "last babies" before she retired. A very special lady.

Railway viaduct from Jubilee bridge

We crossed the Jubiliee bridge and turned right along the east bank of the river, where I often walked with that baby in his pram, a 2 year old toddling alongside and black labrador cross collie retrieving sticks from the river. Some things never change!

View upstream on return path



Wooden footbridge

Over tributary

Curious cattle

Elevated path along flood embankment

Then we met Nigel and Hilary again, on their way back to Nairn from Cawdor. We stood and chatted and it was Nigel who confirmed the raised path was an embankment put in to protect farmland when the river flooded. I said they would possibly appear in a Walkhighland report at some stage but that this wouldn't happen immediately... and might not be for a very long time! It was good to meet them and I think they had enjoyed the walk as much as we did.

Moira, Nigel and Hilary

Last swim for Keira

A beautiful day on a beautiful river

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