Tain Environment

Tain Community Collage

The Topography of Tain     



Map of the Dornoch Firth showing the local topography

The land around Tain can be divided into four main areas:-

  1. A low sandy plain mostly below 5 metres above sea level which contains the Morrich More and Fendom areas.

  2. A raised beach or terrace about 15 metres above sea level with a gentle upward slope to the south and south west merging with the lower slopes of Tain Hill.

  3. A low undulating plain to the north and the west of Loch Eye mostly below 40 metres but sloping gently upwards to the west to over 100 metres where it meets the lower slopes of the upland region.

  4. An upland area of Old Red Sandstone to the west of Tain reaching to over 300 metres at its highest point and bounded to the north by the sea, to the west by the Edderton Burn and to the south by the Aldie Water.
Map of the Dornoch Firth showing the local topography

The Fendom

The Fendom looking East The Fendom is an area of low lying land which lies between the south eastward extension of the raised beach cliff on which the the town sits and the Morrich More. It is crossed by the road from Tain to Inver. As part of area 1 (the low sandy plain) it has light sandy soils which support a number of farms, mainly rearing cattle and sheep. The “Happy Hennery” at Journey’s End on the main road produces eggs for local consumption. Also contained within this area is a disused airfield from WW2. Part of the airfield site is occupied by the Land and Marine oil pipeline engineering buildings which only operate on the occasional contract. Some of the airfield’s wartime buildings provide operational space and accommodation for the service personnel operating the adjacent Bombing Range on the Morrich More. The remaining buildings are rather dilapidated and a bit of an eyesore but provide local farmers with shelter for their animals and storage space for hay.
The Fendom looking East  

The main characteristics of the Fendom are exemplified
by the following poem:-

Flat lies the Fendom
Its fences, ditches, railway and roads
Straight lines creating a chessboard of fields,
Cows and sheep the moveable pawns,
And farm buildings at suitable nodes.

At peace is the Fendom,
Bathed in bright Autumn sun,
Its targets and control tower, rare vertical features,
With forested dunes and sparkling waters beyond,
The only sound, an insects low hum.

Still is the Fendom,
No breeze to disturb, even one stem,
As sheep edge forward, intent on their grazing,
Behind the fence with notices proclaiming
“DANGER. KEEP OUT” - a warning to men.

From the sky o’er the Fendom
Two black, evil birds swoop,
Engines roaring, canon blazing with staccato sound.
Three times they come with parabolic plumes trailing,
Before peace reigns on the Fendom again.
High above the Fendom
Two silent birds soar
As buzzard is bombarded by crow
Locked in playful combat, they move ever onward
And still lies the Fendom once more.
Some of the wartime buildings that dot the Fendom  Land and Marine
Some of the wartime buildings that dot the Fendom  (Land and Marine)
The western part of the Fendom
The western part of the Fendom

An extension of this area stretches to the north west from the golf course getting increasingly narrow until, beyond the Glenmorangie Distillery, there is only room for the railway and when the raised terrace also disappears beyond Meikle Ferry Point, both road and railway are squeezed between the hills and the sea. Below the town this area provides most of the “industrrial” land and the large recreational area of Tain Links. Further north west it provides level land for the bulk of the distillery buildings.  

The Morrich More

The Morrich More is a triangular shaped area of approx. 12 sq mls lying north of the Fendom and north east of Tain. It consists of a low sandy plain mainly below 5 metres, a former sea bed, which has seen many periods of cyclical advances and recessions of the tide since it was elevated above sea level after the last Ice Age. In more recent times, erosion of the north west shore has continued over a long period resulting in a considerable part of the shore disappearing even within living memory. The material thus removed was carried north east by longshore drift and deposited round the corner. Thus the north east shore advanced outwards into the sea at the expense of the north west shore. Eroded dune on NW edge of the Morrich More
  Eroded dune on NW edge of the Morrich More
Part of the Morrich More wasteland Today the Morrich More is a desolate waste of moor and marsh but tradition suggests that this was not always the case and that the area underwent a “Culbin sands” experience with wind blown sand burying crops and houses, making the area an arid waste. Hugh Miller, the famous Cromarty geologist, having explored the area, supported this theory. However, its more modern state was such that the Burgh of Tain willingly sold the land to the Air Ministry and the Tain Bombing Range was first constructed between the two world wars. Its proximity to the RAF stations at Kinloss and Lossiemouth and its excellent weather record have resulted in it becoming one of the busiest bombing ranges in Britain used by RAF, USAAF and NATO planes. Prior to this it was used by the Territorial Army for camps and rifle practice.
Part of the Morrich More wasteland  
The north west shore of this region is edged with sand dunes of varying height, the highest of which are to be found about half way along this shore culminating in a point called Cnocan Mealbhain. South west from Cnocan Mealbhain is an area of forest planted with Corsican pine trees, partly as a measure to stabilise the dunes and prevent further encroachment inland of wind blown sand and partly to hinder coastal erosion. In this latter aim it has not been entirely successful and quite a number of trees have been undermined during storms. It was an experiment conducted by the local Forestry Commission unit under the management of George Small who devised a system of using tree thinnings as thatching on the faces of the dunes among which the young trees were planted. This thatch prevented the sand being blown away untill the young trees became properly rooted. Warning signs at the start of the bombing range
  Warning signs at the start of the bombing range
Trees lost due to erosion On the extreme edge of the Morrich area, immediately south west of the forest, part of this area are the sandy links on which Tain Golf Course was built.
Trees lost due to erosion  

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