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Moray Firth

The Moray Firth (; Scottish Gaelic: An Cuan Moireach, Linne Mhoireibh or Caolas Mhoireibh) is a roughly triangular inlet (or firth) of the North Sea, north and east of Inverness, which is in the Highland council area of north of Scotland. It is the largest firth in Scotland, stretching from Duncansby Head (near John o' Groats) in the north, in the Highland council area, and Fraserburgh in the east, in the Aberdeenshire council area, to Inverness and the Beauly Firth in the west. Therefore three council areas have Moray Firth coastline: Highland to the west and north of the Moray Firth and Highland, Moray and Aberdeenshire to the south. The firth has more than 800 kilometres (about 500 miles) of coastline, much of which is cliff.


  • Geography 1
  • Geology 2
  • Conservation and economy 3
  • Map references 4
  • Line notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


View from Findhorn: The hills across inner Moray Firth end in Tarbat Ness. The mountains in the background rise behind Dornoch Firth.
The strait between Moray Firth and Beauly Firth

A number of rivers flow into the Moray Firth, including the River Ness, the River Findhorn and the River Spey. Various smaller firths and bays are inlets of the firth, including the Cromarty Firth and the Dornoch Firth. The Pentland Firth has its eastern mouth at the Moray Firth's northern boundary.

The Moray Firth is effectively two firths, the Inner Moray Firth , which was traditionally known as the Firth of Inverness, and the Outer Moray Firth which is more open North Sea water. The name "Firth of Inverness" is rarely found on modern maps, but extended from the Beauly Firth in the west, to Chanonry Point in the east.

The Moray Firth is visible for considerable distances, including a long range view from as far to the east as Longman Hill.[1] From Buckie, on a clear day it is possible to see Wick in the far north of Scotland more than 80 km (50 mi) away. From Lossiemouth it is possible to see the hills of Caithness and the hills are easily identified, one being Morven and the other being Scaraben. From Burghead, the white mass of Dunrobin Castle can just be made out in the distance on a very clear day; from Nairn, the two red bands on the Tarbat Ness Lighthouse around 30 km (20 mi) away, can be seen with binoculars.

The Great Channel in the Inner Moray Firth, was dredged by engineers in 1917 for the safe passage of ships that wanted to avoid the long and dangerous passage around the north of Scotland, by transiting the Caledonian Canal. The Channel went from the entrance of Munlochy Bay to the Meikle Mee Starboard Hand Mark, but was not maintained and filled in very quickly.


Basically, the Moray Firth is of tectonic origin, related to the Great Glen Fault. For some time during the glaciation, the whole of nowaday's Moray firth was a huge glacier. Nevertheless the inner Part and its side-inlets, Cromarty Firth and Dornoch Firth, are true fjords themselves. Though there is a reasonable tide with mean tide ranges of about three metres (ten feet), only part of the rivers draining into the bay have estuaries. Masses of sediment from the adjacent mountains have formed spits around several mouths. Those of River Ness and River Carron have significantly narrowed the fjords they enter.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Conservation and economy

The Moray Firth is one of the most important places on the

  • UK government website re its status as a protected site
  • Scottish government press release about seal management in the firth
  • The Moray Firth Partnership
  • Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

External links

  • C.Michael Hogan (2008) Longman Hill, Modern Antiquarian [2]
  • WDCS (2008) The Moray Firth Wildlife Centre


  1. ^ C.M. Hogan, 2008
  2. ^ Poster on the Geology of Moray Firth
  3. ^ Coastal Assessment Survey: Inner Moray Firth (Sept 1999)
  4. ^ The Dornoch, Cromarty and Beauly/Inverness FirthsScottish Natural Heritage No 50 (1996):
  5. ^ Estuaries of the Outer Moray FirthScottish Natural Heritage No 51 (1996):
  6. ^ Morphology and significance of transverse ridges (de Geer moraines) adjacent to the Moray Firth, NE SCotland
  7. ^ Ardesier Peninsula part of a suite of glaciomarine ice-contact deposits
  8. ^ WDCS, 2008

Line notes

Latitude and longitude Ordnance Survey
grid reference
Duncansby Head
Chanonry Point
Inverness (Kessock Bridge)
Fraserburgh (Kinnaird Head)

Map references

The Inner Moray Firth is designated as a Special Protection Area for wildlife conservation purposes. The Moray Firth contains a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) designated under the EU Habitats Directive, which is one of the largest Marine Protection Areas in Europe. The SAC protects the inner waters of the Moray Firth, from a line between Lossiemouth (on the south coast) and Helmsdale (on the north coast) westwards.

It is also an important oil field and fishing grounds. The Beatrice oil field in the Outer Moray Firth is the closest of the North Sea oil fields; it is also the (as of 2004) planned home for a 200-turbine deep-water wind farm. Much of the fishing industry focuses on scallops and Norway lobsters.


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