Nelson's Tower Forres

Written by Chris Thornton | 28th of July 2021
Nelson's Tower

When traveling to or passing Forres, it's hard not to notice Nelson's Tower high up on the hill surrounded by trees. My kids often shout out, "Dad! There's a castle on the hill!". However, it is not a castle but a memorial to Admiral Lord Nelson who died in battle in 1805.

Also, known as "The Nelson Tower", it stands on Cluny Hill, overlooking the town of Forres in Moray, and boasts majestic views towards Findhorn Bay and Moray Firth as well as the Caithness Hills on the far horizon. It is a lovely place for both locals and tourists.

Nelson's Column in Trafalger Square, London is the most famous monument to Lord Nelson, but there are many monuments all over the UK.

Nelson's Tower Design

It is an octagonal tower built in the neo-gothic style, four stories high, standing 21 meters tall, and built of harled rubble. A central spiral staircase of 96 steps takes you to the roof of the tower. The plaque outside reads "In Memory of Admiral Lord Nelson".

Nelson's Tower

Who built Nelson's Tower?

Funds were raised from the public to erect the tower, the subscribers joined together to create "The Trafalgar Club". £610 was raised from 270 donors. The architect was Charles Stewart and the first foundation stone was laid on 26 August 1806 by James Brodie.  Coins are parchment were laid beneath it.

The building costs for the tower were underestimated and further fundraising was made in 1807 and 1810 leading to the final completion of the structure in October 1812 - Trafalgar Day.

The Forres Trafalgar Club would go on to hold annual celebrations on the anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar.

Nelson's Tower

Donations to The Nelson Tower

Two four-pounder cannon from the Bombardment of Alexandria in 1882 were donated to the tower and still exist next to the tower today.

A beautifully sculpted bust of Lord Nelson was commissioned by supporters and showcased in the tower in 1837. The tower also contains a war memorial from the South African War of men from the Forres area.

Other gifts received were a silver cup from the Duke of Gordon and a bronze medal displaying a likeness of Lord Nelson.

Nelson's Tower

Forres Heritage Trust

The tower is currently in the safe hands of Forres Heritage Trust who were formed to promote the heritage and culture of Forres. They are a passionate group of Forres volunteers and very knowledgeable about local history.

Who was Admiral Lord Nelson?

Admiral Nelson was an officer in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, he was known for his strategy skills, leadership, and unconventional ways of winning battles leading to many victories for the British.

He was fatally shot at The Battle of Trafalgar often cited as Britains greatest naval victory. Nelson's Tower was erected to commemorate this victory.

Nelson's Tower

How do I get to Nelson's Tower?

The tower can be accessed from Grant Park in central Forres. Please see the map at the bottom of the page or check out the Live Breathe Scotland Map. There is a fantastic but fairly steep but short walk up Cluny Hill with well maintained paths that loop up to the monument. We have seen red squirrels in the wood here on many occasions.

Can I go up Nelson's Tower?

Yes, there is a central spiral staircase to take you to the viewing area on the roof, however, it is only open to visitors seasonally. Be careful inside with the uneven stone surfaces on the stairs. Check for the Red Ensign flag flying from the tower mast between April and September between 2-4pm. Donations are taken on entry.

Nelson's Tower

Colours of Cluny

In the past, enchanted Forest walks have been held on the path up to Nelson's Tower. Usually, in November, many different coloured lights were used to light up the dark forest, characters in costume would line the path which also contained art installations.

When you reached the monument it was lit up with a projector display every 10/15 minutes. It was a really great event, it's a real shame it no longer happens.

Nelson's Tower on Cluny Hill


A trip out to see Nelson's Tower is a great day out, not only do you have the lovely forest walk and wildlife, and spectacular views from the tower, but you also get to learn about the history in Forres and the wider United Kingdom. While you are in Forres check out the Forres Tolbooth and the Witches Stone. Also at the far side for Forres is Sueno's Stone - an artefact with ancient pictish carvingsClava Cairns standing stones and burial mounds lie further to the west and are well worthy of a visit.  If you like riverside walks, Randolph's Leap lies to the south of Forres.  South east will take you to Lochindorb Castle.  The ruin of Kinloss Abbey is northeast.

All drone photography by John Luckwell.

Nelson's Tower location map

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