Tain Environment

Tain Community Collage

The Topography of Tain Page 2     


Tain Beach

The Irish navvies' handiwork
The Irish navvies' handiwork
The foreshore immediately in front of the town consists of quite a wide stretch of mud or sand flats uncovered at low tide. Contained within these are the valuable Mussel Scalps which have long been a source of revenue to the town. Although the area exposed by the tides continues along the Dornoch Firth to just before Portmahomack there is a narrow stretch of sandy beach along the shore of the Morrich More. It is not a pretty beach as much of the best sand has constantly been moved along shore and attempts to stop erosion have meant the dumping of various materials some of which are now spread accross the beach. To reach the best sands one has to walk quite a distance. However, there are good views across the firth and it is a good place to walk, with or without a dog, and also for
observing bird life.

The first substantial effort to prevent erosion was when the shore along the edge of the Links and a section on the other side of the suspension bridge as far as the Plaids was faced with blocks of stone from Ardchronie quarry. This work was done by two Irishmen sometime in the 1950’s and proved very successful.
Some years later George Small, the local head forester, constructed barriers at right angles to the shore, similar to groynes only made from lines of wooden poles interwoven with wire netting and branches, to collect the sand and hopefully protect the forestry plantation. The idea was sound but unlike stone groynes they were not substantial enough and would have required constant replacement.

Round about the same time, Ian MacPherson, a Greenock businessman who was a devotee of the Annual Golf Tournament in Tain, at his own expense had a line of gabions (stone filled wire cages) placed on the beach in front of the site of the 11th (Alps) green. Without his generosity it is doubtful if this green would have survived intact.
All that remains of George Small's efforts
  All that remains of George Small's efforts
The stone gabions built to protect the Alps green The latest defence against erosion
The stone gabions built to protect the Alps green The latest defence against erosion
About 10 years ago, a series of stone barriers with gaps at intervals to allow the sand to be carried in behind, were constructed a few yards out from and parallel to the shoreline from the Plaids to just past the Alps green. Although these barriers are not very attractive to look at they have successfully halted erosion and the sand is noticeably becoming more golden in colour.

The Raised Beach

.Raised beaches are the result of past variations in sea level resulting in a beach, formed during a higher sea level, now being some height above the current sea level. Tain’s raised beach occurs at about about 15 metres above sea level and provided a fairly level, but narrow site, above the level of possible flooding. Fortunately the land to the south west of this narrow terrace was relatively gently sloping and has enabled the expansion of the town in more recent times. The edge of the raised beach is marked by a steep slope or scarp, the former cliff line. The steeply sloping Castle Brae, leading to and from Tain railway station, runs directly down this scarp and the High Street and its continuation into Lamington and Ankerville Streets, runs along the top parallel to it. Just beyond Knockbreck primary school, this road descends diagonally across the scarp on its way down onto the Fendom and thence to Inver and Portmahomack. The scarp continues for about another 3/4 mile then takes a turn to the east before becoming very indistinct, eventually reappearing again north of Loch Eye. This scarp marks the edge of the Fendom area. Site of Tain on the raised beach and at the foot of Tain Hill
  Site of Tain on the raised beach and at the foot of Tain Hill
The raised beach scarp immediately east of Tain The raised beach scarp immediately east of Tain
The raised beach scarp immediately east of Tain
The raised terrace widens out for a while to the north west until it narrows again beyond the distillery and eventually disappears. It also widens out to the south east merging with the Plain of Ross. Where it is not covered by the buildings of Tain it provides good farmland.

The Plain of Ross

Loch Eye and part of the Plain of Ross from Tain Hill The land to the south and south east of Tain is part of the Plain of Ross (Machair Ross). This sometimes level, sometimes undulating, plain presents a variegated landscape of fields, woodland and mosses depending on the nature of the underlying deposits. The area immediately south and south east of the town is all fields with a much greater degree of moss and woodland further south and south west. A lot of new single house development has taken place in this latter area especially along the Scotsburn road and around Hartmount and Grantfield.

The Upland

Lochan Uaine with slopes of Cnocan t-Sabhail in background This area takes in Tain Hill (Hill of Tain), Edderton Hill, Beinn nan Gearran and Cnocan t-Sabhail, which seem collectively to have been known in earlier times as Ben Garrick, and an offshoot, Rose Hill. Springs and wells are fairly numerous and a few minor burns flow off its slopes, of which the Red Burn near Edderton, the Black Burn near Tarlogie, the Morangie Burn and the Allt Clachach above the Lairgs of Tain are the most notable. The Allt Clachach has cut a marked ravine into the southern edge of the upland. Some of the springs are weakly chalybeate (ie. impregnated with or containing salts of iron). One or two small lochs lie on the upper levels, the two main ones being Lochan Uaine in a dip between Tain Hill and Cnocan t-Sabhail (321 m high) and Loch Lapagial north east of this highest point
Lochan Uaine with slopes of Cnocan t-Sabhail in background  
This hill mass slopes relatively gently to the east and south east and here is occupied by farmland and the most recent expansion of the town on the lowest slopes. Some recent house building has also taken place just above the Carnegie Lodge Motel and beside Viewfield Farm. To the north west, west and south west the edge of the upland is much steeper especially near Redburn where the upland reaches nearly to the shore and it forms a “lofty precipice of immense masses of stratified stone piled one upon another in regular ascent” according to the Rev. Charles Calder Mackintosh in the New Statistical Account of Scotland. These slopes are mostly forested with only the exposed plateau like tops of Tain Hill and Cnocan t-Sabhail (covered in heather and peat bog) and parts of the middle to lower slopes of Edderton Hill (rough grazing) unplanted.. A peat bank is still being worked in an area just not far below Loch Lapagial on the north side. The top of Tain Hill
  The top of Tain Hill

Terms & Conditions     © Ross and Cromarty Heritage