THIS column is dedicated to walking and ramblers’ groups from across Scotland, where they can suggest the best routes to enjoy from their areas and further afield.

Over the coming weeks, The Herald Magazine writers will be suggesting their favourite walks too. See the panel at the end of this story if you want to get involved.

The Dunnet Forest Circular, Caithness

By Susan Swarbrick

Start: Dunnet Forest car park

Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)

Time: Allow at least an hour

Terrain: The red waymarked trail is fairly easy walking on a stone surface.

Level: Suitable for most abilities.

Access: There is car parking just off the A836.

What makes it special: Flora and fauna abound on a tranquil woodland walk.

IF you are exploring Caithness (part of the North Coast 500), this is a must-visit on any itinerary. As the A836 sweeps east towards John O'Groats, it passes Dunnet Bay with its majestic horseshoe-shaped golden sandy beach and reef break that is a favourite among surfers.

HeraldScotland: Dunnet Forest, Caithness. Picture: Susan Swarbrick/The HeraldDunnet Forest, Caithness. Picture: Susan Swarbrick/The Herald

Dunnet Forest can be found on this same stretch of road and is well worth exploring. The area is bountiful in wildlife, as well as fascinating history and sculptures.

Route: Starting from the well-signposted car park beside the A836, head for the trees. Shortly before the entrance to the forest is an information board and map. Ahead lies a choice of two waymarked trails: red and yellow.

The red route is the shorter one and perfect for stretching the legs without feeling overly taxing, especially if you are also planning a gentle stroll along the nearby beach at Dunnet Bay. If you want a longer walk, then plump for the yellow route (2.2 miles/3.6km).

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Both are signposted as they progress, although it is possible to veer off onto smaller offshoot paths along the way should you wish. It is nigh-on impossible to get lost if you stick to the main paths and diligently follow the waymarkers dotted throughout the trails.

HeraldScotland: Dunnet Forest, Caithness. Picture: Susan Swarbrick/The HeraldDunnet Forest, Caithness. Picture: Susan Swarbrick/The Herald

There are plenty of interesting things to discover, such as the Hut Circle, a low mound behind the trees that is all that remains of several prehistoric homes.

Dating from the Bronze Age, some 3,500 years ago, the structures that once stood here would likely have been built with low circular stone walls and a tall conical roof (there is a plaque nearby with a handy illustration that depicts this).

HeraldScotland: Dunnet Forest, Caithness. Picture: Susan Swarbrick/The HeraldDunnet Forest, Caithness. Picture: Susan Swarbrick/The Herald

It is thought that prehistoric farmers might have grown cereal crops and reared cattle, pigs, sheep and goats on the surrounding land.

As the path meanders round, other landmarks to keep your eyes peeled for include a large wooden xylophone, carved sculptures and an exquisitely made log cabin. Should you wish to pull up a pew there are benches, seats and picnic tables at regular intervals.

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Throughout the woodland there are signs of ongoing projects, the brainchild of the community-run Dunnet Forestry Trust which took ownership of this popular recreational area earlier this year.

The forest covers 104 hectares (260 acres) and is part of the Dunnet Links Site of Special Scientific Interest. Established by the Forestry Commission in the 1950s, the types of trees found growing here have evolved over subsequent decades.

Of the many species originally planted lodgepole pine, corsican pine, mountain pine, sitka spruce and sycamore are among those that remain today. In more recent years, ash, alder, birch, rowan, hazel, whitebeam and willow have been introduced.

HeraldScotland: Dunnet Forest, Caithness. Picture: Susan Swarbrick/The HeraldDunnet Forest, Caithness. Picture: Susan Swarbrick/The Herald

Forest clearing work has been done to encourage the flower-rich grassland. The sheltered gaps are wonderful for watching butterflies flit back and forth in the dappled sunlight.

For fungi fans, there is plenty to capture your gaze along the woodland floor. My favourites are the brightly coloured members of the Russula family with their vivid hues of red, purple and violet.

Don't miss: Having a fun-filled play on the tree swings not far from the log cabin. Also, if you love nature photography, don't forget your camera.

READ MORE: North Coast 500: 20 things not to miss on this epic road trip

Useful information: Visit dunnetforest.org. There are seasonal toilets and additional parking half a mile east at the Seadrift Centre. You can discover further recent walks from The Herald Magazine on our website by clicking here

Do you have a walk you would like to suggest? Email susan.swarbrick@theherald.co.uk