morayOfficial Guide - The Moray Council

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					moray Official Guide

               MORAY the

                C o u n c i l
                moray Official Guide
                                                            Published by:
                                            Burrows Communications Limited

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                                         Publicity House, 106 Stafford Road
                                                 Wallington, Surrey SM6 9AY
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C o u n c i l

           Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11

           Moray Profile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

           Natural History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

           Historic Moray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

           Industry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

           Golf, Other Good Walks and Grand Days Out . . . .24

           Towns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31

           Historic Personalities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49

           Fifty things to see and do in Moray . . . . . . . . . . .52

                                                  Lossiemouth’s east beach and footbridge.


                                                                                  Left:   River Spey at Carron.
                                                                                          Picture: Barry Whyte
                                                                                  Below: An aerial view of the Seatown area
                                                                                         of Cullen and the imposing viaduct.

Moray Council is the local authority     libraries which serve users in more      Waste management is another
that provides services throughout the    remote areas.                            important part of the department’s
Moray area.                                                                       remit and each year approximately
                                         Moray Council is also responsible for    50,000 tonnes of waste is collected
The council is responsible for           the maintenance of 1,000 miles of        from homes and commercial
operating a wide range of public         road, 450 miles of footpath, 468         properties in Moray.
sector services including education,     bridges, 16,000 street lights and
housing, social work, planning,          10,500 road signs.                       The area has one of the best recycling
economic development, roads,                                                      records of any Scottish local authority
environmental protection and leisure.    As a housing authority, it manages       and households in many of the larger
                                         more than 6,000 council properties       communities benefit from a kerbside
While its headquarters are in            and operates a council house             recycling service.
Elgin, there are also area offices       waiting list.
in Forres, Lossiemouth, Buckie,                                                   There are 63 recycling points located
Keith and Dufftown.                      It also provides housing which has       throughout Moray in addition to eight
                                         been specially designed, built or        larger recycling centres.
The council and its partners in          adapted to meet the requirements of
delivering services to the public, are   certain groups such as the elderly and The safety of everyone in the community,
committed to improving the quality       those with special needs.              whether residents or visitors, is of
of life for everyone in Moray.                                                  paramount consideration to Moray
                                                                                Council and it is one of the first local
                                         The council’s development control
                                                                                authorities in the country to insist that
Moray has 45 primary schools and         section deals with thousands of
                                                                                all school transport providers fit their
eight secondaries and the council        planning applications every year from
                                                                                vehicles with seat belts.
currently has responsibility for         individuals and organisations seeking
educating more than 13,000 school        permission to erect buildings or adapt
                                                                                Comprehensive details of the services
pupils. Its community learning and       existing ones.
                                                                                provided by the council are available
development team is also involved in
                                                                                on its website at
arranging a wide range of classes and    The section is part of the
courses for adult learners.              environmental services department
                                         whose responsibilities range from food
The council operates 15 public           safety to flood protection and trading
libraries, all with free internet and    standards to transport.
e-mail access, and two mobile

 moray Profile
 Moray is one of the smallest regions
                                              East Dunes,Lossiemouth. Picture: Jim Robertson
 in Scotland, but what it lacks in size
 it more than makes up in scenery,
 facilities and quality of life.

 For residents and visitors alike,
 it offers all that is best in Scotland
 while retaining its own unique
 identity and one of which it is
 justifiably proud.

 With a population of just 88,000,
 Moray nestles between the rugged
 and spectacular Highlands and the
 flat, fertile farmlands of the
 north-east and although it belongs to
 neither, it shares the best elements of
 both – from the snow-capped peaks
 of the Cairngorms to the unspoiled
 coastline of the Moray Firth.

                                                                                                         for the performing arts thrive in the
                                                                                                         area, and each town sustains a lively
                                                                                                         artistic culture. Most recently a new art
                                                                                                         centre has been completed in Findhorn,
                                                                                                         capable of hosting important exhibitions
                                                                                                         and accommodating music and
                                                                                                         dramatic art.

                                                                                                         Traditional industries - farming, fishing
                                                                                                         and forestry - play an important part in
                                                                                                         the area’s culture whilst underpinning
                                                                                                         the economy. In addition, two
                                                                                                         internationally renowned food
                                                                                                         producers, Baxters of Speyside and
                                                                                                         Walkers of Aberlour, have put Moray
                                                                                                         firmly on the international map.

                                                                                                         Moray’s recent history has been
                                                                                                         inextricably linked with the Royal
                                           Local industry is as diverse as the                           Air Force and its twin bases at
                                           landscape in which it is located and                          Lossiemouth and nearby Kinloss.
                                           makes a major contribution to the                             Both bases were founded in 1938 as
                                           area’s buoyant economy. Moray is the                          the prospect of war with Germany
                                           heartland of the Scotch whisky industry                       loomed large and the RAF expanded
                                           and is home to more than 45 distilleries                      to meet the mounting threat and they
                                           whose brands are savoured in just                             have played a key role in the defence
                                           about every corner of the world.                              of the United Kingdom ever since.

                                           In the spirit of celebration, music plays                     Sadly, Kinloss has fallen victim to
                                           a vital role in the Moray community.                          the latest defence review and is
                                           There are major music festivals every                         earmarked for closure as an RAF
                                           year, including the traditional Speyfest                      station, although it will convert to
                                           and the Spirit of Speyside, the latter                        Army base with the return in the
                                           linked to the whisky industry. Venues                         coming years of troops from overseas.

                                           Revellers enjoying a ceilidh. Picture: The Spirit of
                                           A fiddler entertaining during the annual Spirit of Speyside whisky festival.
                                           Picture: Spirit of
                         Young rugby players in action.

The area’s biggest town and
administrative capital is Elgin, which
is also Moray’s principal shopping
centre and many leading national
retailers are represented alongside
long-established local outlets.

Other main towns include Forres,
well-known for its successes in
national floral competitions; Buckie,
with its fishing and commercial
harbour, and Keith, built on a
once-thriving textiles industry.

Sitting midway between Aberdeen
and Inverness, Moray prides itself in
an environment which is welcoming,
friendly and safe and where a true                        with a fascinating array of wildlife for   Moray can be whatever the resident
sense of community thrives.                               those interested in natural history.       or visitor wants it to be – a place of
                                                                                                     peace and tranquility or somewhere
And while no promises can be made                         The area has some of the best salmon to exercise the spirit of adventure.
about the weather, it boasts one of
                                                          and trout rivers in Scotland while several
the most equitable climates to be                                                                    Whichever it is, this guide can only
found anywhere in Scotland.                               coastal marinas have been developed
                                                                                                     scratch the surface in exploring what
                                                          in recent years to cater for the           the area has to offer and the huge
Moray is a paradise for lovers of the                     increasing number of yachts and            range of attributes which gives it a
outdoors, with many designated foot-                      pleasure craft using the sheltered         place of its own in Scotland’s rich
paths, cycleways and bridleways and                       inshore waters of the Moray Firth.         culture and heritage.

Heading for the North Sea fishing grounds.

 moray profile continued…

                                             Salmon fishing in the bridge pool, Craigellachie.
                                             Picture: Jim Robertson

                                             A bird’s-eye view of the lower stretches of the River Spey.

 Stretching from the high mountain
 summits of the Cairngorms to the
 shores of the firth to which it lends its
 name, Moray is a place of outstanding
 natural beauty and splendour.

 The rugged, awe-inspiring scenery of
 the uplands gradually gives way to the
 Laich of Moray, a broad tract of land
 which is among the most fertile in
 Scotland and which represents some
                                             It welcomes visitors from all over the                        Many thousands do so every year and
 of the most productive farmland in
                                             world during the summer and its                               the popularity of the distillery tours
 the country.
                                             micro-economy relies heavily on the                           among people from all over the world
                                             tourist industry during peak season                           is exemplified by the fact that
 Because of the topography, the Laich
                                             although the proximity of the Lecht ski                       Glenfiddich Distillery at Dufftown,
 is where the main centres of population
                                             centre, which straddles the frequently                        which blazed a trail for the rest of the
 have evolved, among them Elgin,
 Forres, Lossiemouth, along with             snowbound Cockbridge-Tomintoul                                industry by launching a visitor centre
 many smaller satellite communities.         road, helps to keep the wolf from the                         in the late 1960s, recently welcomed
                                             door in winter.                                               its three millionth visitor.
 Further inland, the more mountainous
 and hilly terrain are dotted with small     As the Spey, the UK’s seventh-longest
                                                                                       As the Spey makes its way towards the
 farms where the soil does not lend          river, continues on its way to meet the
                                                                                       sea and encounters more low-lying
 itself to growing crops and where           Moray Firth, it passes through malt
                                                                                       land, its pace slows.
 cattle and sheep graze on what              whisky country – the spiritual home of
 sustenance they can find.                   Scotland’s national drink.
                                                                                       It flows serenely past Aberlour and
 Streams of crystal clear water tumble       The saying goes that while Rome was Rothes, both also long-established
                                             built on seven hills, Dufftown was        whisky towns, and onwards to
 down the hillside and into the
                                             built on seven stills – a testament to    Fochabers, a village that is home to
 picturesque glens, many of them
 destined to feed into the River Spey,       its status as the world’s whisky capital. the world-famous Baxters food factory
 Scotland’s fastest-flowing watercourse                                                still family-owned after more than
 and one of the country’s premier            Dufftown is at the hub of Moray’s         100 years.
 salmon rivers.                              Malt Whisky Trail which brings
                                             together distilleries where visitors      Along its lower reaches the River Spey
 The only settlement of any size in the      are welcome to take a tour and            traverses a low-lying and fertile plain
 upland area is Tomintoul which, at          sample the end product of the             which runs across virtually the entire
 more than 1100ft above sea level,           time-honoured distillation and            breadth of Moray, from Forres in the
 is Scotland’s second highest village.       maturation process.                       west to Buckie and beyond in the east.

At the end of its 100-mile journey       port to serve the fast-growing Elgin,
from its source in the Monadhliath       six miles inland.
Mountains, the Spey empties into the
Moray Firth at Spey Bay.                 But Lossiemouth – or Lossie, as it
                                         generally known – quickly established
Forres, the second biggest town in       its own identity as a thriving fishing
Moray, has gained fame in recent         port, although nowadays its two
years for its consistently successful    harbour basins have been converted
                                         into a yachting marina.                       High spring tide at Findhorn Bay.
performances in major floral                                                           Picture: Peter Harvey
competitions, not least among them
the prestigious Britain In Bloom.        One of the town’s claims to fame is as
                                         the birthplace of Britain’s first Prime
In the 12th and 13th centuries it was    Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, in 1866.
home to the kings of Scotland and
features prominently in Shakespeare’s    Continuing east along the coast and
Macbeth. The town’s economy is           beyond the River Spey come the
largely dependent on the nearby air      communities of Portgordon, Buckie,
base at Kinloss where the RAF’s          Findochty, Portknockie and Cullen,
entire fleet of Nimrod maritime patrol   all of which owe their existence to the
aircraft is based and which is also      fishing industry. All were bustling
home to the UK’s national rescue         ports when the industry was in its
co-ordination centre.                    heyday in the first half of the 20th
                                         century but as fishing declined only          Elgin town centre.
Close by are the village of Findhorn,    Buckie survived.
with its shallow bay which provides a
natural refuge for small yachts, and,    Increasingly tight quotas and the            and for many years the annual Keith
at the other end of a long, sweeping,    decommissioning of vessels have              Show has been Moray’s only major
sandy beach, the fishing port of         decimated the industry in Moray              agricultural event.
Burghead, which started life as a        and Buckie harbour now handles
Pictish settlement.                      mainly commercial traffic, although      For more than a thousand years
                                         the port still has a shipyard and a      Elgin has been Moray’s largest and
Some of its Pictish past is still in     lifeboat station.                        most influential community while
evidence and each year, on January                                                retaining its character as a market
11, townspeople celebrate the            Keith is another town which has          town, with extensive green space and
Burning of the Clavie, an ancient        had to look to diversify its labour base amenity areas.
ritual which dates back to the town’s    following a gradual downturn in the
very earliest days.                      industry which helped sustain it for     Its past is well documented and
                                         generations – textiles.                  there has scarcely been a period in
Along the coast to the east of                                                    its history when some landmark
Burghead lies the bigger town of         The town and the surrounding area        event or other has not added another
Lossiemouth, which began life as a       have a long-standing farming tradition chapter to the Elgin story.

                                                                                      The built heritage of the central area
                                                                                      in particular is testament to the
                                                                                      town’s status over the centuries and
                                                                                      more recent developments have been
                                                                                      designed in sympathy with the
                                                                                      surrounding conservation area.

                                                                                      Elgin is Moray’s principal retail centre
                                                                                      and has taken strides in recent years
                                                                                      in competing against its main rivals,
                                                                                      Inverness and Aberdeen.

                                                                                      The town, straddling the main A96
                                                                                      trunk road and with a rail link to the
                                                                                      east and west, has seen a steady
                                                                                      growth in population in recent years
                                                                                      and the local construction industry
                                                                Lossiemouth marina.
                                                                                      has been kept busy keeping pace with
                                                                                      the demand for new housing.

 Natural History

     Herons taking flight on the icy River Spey.
     Picture: Peter Harvey.

 With its diverse range of habitats,
 from mountain peaks, hillsides,
 moorland, farmland, river estuaries
 and shoreline, Moray provides a
 haven for a vast array of wildlife.

 Much of the uplands of Moray lie
 within the recently designated
 Cairngorms National Park, while
 on the coast there are nature
 reserves of national and local status.

 The area’s largest mammal, the
                                                   Red Squirrel                                 Roe deer in the Spring.
 impressive antlered red deer,
 is generally found in the higher
                                                   The crystal clear waters of our rivers      bottle-nose dolphin, a colony of
 and more remote parts of Moray,
                                                   and streams also provide the ideal          around 130 of which lives in the
 and is frequently encountered in
                                                   environment for otters.                     Moray Firth.
 herds several dozen strong.

 Its smaller cousin, the roe deer, inhabits        Moray is fortunate that, so far at          It is one of only two sizeable colonies
 more low-lying areas where it is                  least, it has escaped colonisation by       of the species in British coastal
 associated with open land for grazing             the alien grey squirrel and that the        waters, the other being in Cardigan
 and adjoining woodland for refuge.                indigenous and much more endearing          Bay in Wales.
                                                   red squirrel still survives in reasonable
 Foxes are relatively abundant as too              numbers, although its future remains   There are several vantage points along
 are badgers, while wildcat and pine               a cause for concern.                   the Moray coast where the dolphins
 marten, which tend to have their                                                         are most likely to be seen from shore,
 stronghold in more isolated parts of              But perhaps the area’s most celebrated one of them being Tugnet at Spey
 Scotland, have a toehold in Moray.                mammal - and with good cause - is the Bay, where the Whale and Dolphin

Conservation Society has a visitor
centre and café.

Grey and common seals are relatively
common offshore and can also be
seen at closer quarters as they haul
themselves out of the water to bask
on the shoreline.

The area’s birdlife is even more diverse
and makes Moray one of the most
popular and manageable destinations
in Scotland for birdwatchers.

Within an hour’s drive and a distance
of under 50 miles, enthusiasts can
watch golden eagles soar over the
foothills of the Cairngorms and see
ducks gather in huge flocks in the
sheltered inshore waters of the
Moray Firth.

                                           Two of Scotland’s most sought
                                           after species - capercaillie and
                                           crested tit - can be found in Moray.
                                           Both have extremely restricted ranges
                                           and can be difficult to connect with
                                           anywhere else.

                                           Findhorn Bay is a staging post for
                                           many thousands of migrating wildfowl
                                           and waders in winter, and during
                                           the summer is one of the most
                                           reliable spots to observe osprey as
                                           they plunge into the shallow waters
                                           to catch fish.

                                           Above: Fulmar skimming the water of the Moray Firth.
                                                  Picture: Gemini Explorer Tours, Buckie.

                                           Left: Dolphins leaping from the water off Findochty.
                                                 Picture: Gemini Explorer Tours, Buckie.

 Historic              moray
 Moray is fortunate in the quality of its
 built heritage and has several historic
 buildings to rival Scotland’s best.

 In Elgin Cathedral, it has one of the
 best preserved ruins in the country
 and one can only wonder at what a
 magnificent sight it must have been
 in its original state.

 Dating from the 1200s, it was burned
 down - along with much of Elgin -
 by the Wolf of Badenoch in 1390
 in revenge for his excommunication
 by the Bishop of Elgin.

 The sacking of the cathedral
 was followed by two centuries
 of reconstruction but it began to
 suffer decay after being abandoned
 in the wake of the Reformation and
 in the early 1700s a large part of
 the building collapsed.

 However, enough remains to this day
 to make a visit to the cathedral, which
 is in the safe keeping of Historic
 Scotland, a memorable experience.

 Also open to the public is another
 Historic Scotland property, the
 nearby Spynie Palace which for five
 centuries was the residence of the
 Bishops of Moray.

 As with Elgin Cathedral, it began to
 fall into a state of disrepair in the
 17th century and much of the
 structure has gone, although the
 impressive David’s Tower and other
 parts of the building are still standing.

 Pluscarden Abbey stands in a secluded
 wooded valley inland from Elgin and         Above: Elgin Cathedral.
 is home to a small community of
                                             Left: All aboard the Dufftown to
 Benedictine monks who re-colonised                Keith tourist train.
 and restored the building in 1948.

 It was founded in 1230 but was
 gradually abandoned after the
 Reformation and by the end of the
 19th century even the roof had gone.

                                                                                   Left: Brodie Castle, near Forres.
                                                                                         Picture: Jim Robertson

                                                                                   Below: The road to Ben Rinnes, near Aberlour.
                                                                                          Picture: Peter Harvey

A handful of monks from Prinknash         One of Moray’s best-known and most          gorge where the fast-flowing waters
Abbey in Gloucestershire arrived to       distinctive structures spans the fast-      of the River Findhorn have eroded
reclaim the building after the Second     flowing River Spey at Craigellachie.        the sandstone rock.
World War and in 1975, after 750          The single-span bridge was built by
years as a priory, Pluscarden was         the celebrated Scottish engineer,           It takes its name from Randolph, a
given abbey status.                       Thomas Telford, and opened in               14th century Earl of Moray who was
                                          1814 and carried vehicular traffic          forced to give up the chase after an
Visitors are welcome but large            until the 1970s.                            enemy when he leaped from one side
sections of the abbey are out of                                                      of the chasm to the other.
bounds to the public.                     Moray is also fortunate in having
                                          a number of natural features which          Another impressive natural feature are
Brodie Castle, near Forres, is the        are worth a visit, although some            the eroded red sandstone pillars which
ancestral home of the Brodie clan         are more accessible than others.            tower above the Spey at Aultdearg,
although it was been in the                                                           just upriver from Fochabers.
ownership of the National Trust for       The views from 2,775ft Ben Rinnes,
Scotland for the past 30 years.           near Dufftown, are well worth the           Bowfiddle Rock at Portknockie is a
Dating from the 16th century, it          hike to the top and in recent years the     striking example of what the action of
houses a fine collection of furniture,    Friends of Ben Rinnes have put in an        the sea can do. In this case it has
porcelain and art and its library         immense amount of work upgrading            eroded the rock into the shape of the
contains around 6,000 books.              the path to the summit.                     bow of a fiddle, hence its name.

Visitors are also free to wander in the   Randolph’s Leap, within easy
extensive grounds of the castle which,    walking distance of the B9007
in spring, are carpeted with daffodils.   Carrbridge-Forres road, is a deep

Well inland, at the remote Braes of
Glenlivet, can be found a building
which during the 18th century was
the only place in Scotland where
young Catholic priests were trained.

Despite constant persecution, over
100 young men trained as priests
during that period and the seminary
at Scalan played a key role in keeping
the Catholic faith alive in the north
and the Braes remains one of
its strongholds.


 Although Moray still depends very                               Defence, in the form of Moray’s two          Like so many traditional industries,
 heavily on its natural resources to                             military air bases, has become the           automation and new technology mean
 create employment, it also supports a                           mainstay of the local economy over the       that distilleries no longer employ the
 broad industrial and commercial base.                           last 50 to 60 years thanks to the huge       same large number of people they did
                                                                 spending power of their personnel.           in the past.
 For generations the Moray economy
 relied on the three Fs – farming,                               The presence of RAF Lossiemouth              Instead, it is the distilleries’ growing
 forestry and fishing – and to some                              and RAF Kinloss has been worth an
                                                                                                              reputation as a visitor attraction that
                                                                 estimated £150 million a year to
 extent it still does, although they                                                                          makes the industry a linchpin of
                                                                 the Moray economy, although the
 employ nothing like the number of                                                                            the local economy. Tens of thousands
                                                                 impending closure of the latter is likely
 people they once did.                                                                                        of people flock to Moray each year for
                                                                 to have a significant impact.
                                                                                                              a guided tour of the distilleries which
 Moray is one of Scotland’s most                                 With its welcoming environment and           make up the unique Malt Whisky Trail,
 heavily forested areas and although                             quality of life, many servicemen and         with the inevitable spin-off for local
 forestry remains an important element                           women choose to remain in Moray at           hotels and guesthouses, restaurants,
 of the economy, it has been overtaken                           the end of their military careers and        shops and other businesses.
 by new and higher tech contributors to                          considerable efforts have been made
 the area’s economic wellbeing.                                  to retain their skills and adapt them        Food and drink are vital ingredients of
                                                                 for use in civvy street.                     the economy of Moray which is home
                                                                                                              to two internationally renowned
                                                                 The industry that it most synonymous         companies in Baxters, perhaps best
                                                                 with Moray, however, is whisky distilling.
                                                                                                              known for their soups and jams, and
                                                                                                              Walkers, whose shortbread is sold all
                                                                 Since the first illicit stills began
                                                                 production centuries ago, Moray has          over the world.
                                                                 been the cradle of the whisky industry.
                                                                                                              Both companies have been in business
                                                                 The Scotch whisky industry is of huge        for over 100 years and are still in
                                                                 importance not only to Moray, but to         family ownership, and the Baxters
                                                                 the British economy, with some               factory at Fochabers and the Walkers
                                                                 £800 million of excise duty and VAT          site at Aberlour are among Moray’s
                                                                 flowing into the Exchequer every year.       biggest private sector employers.

             Sheep grazing near Dufftown in early autumn.
                                     Picture: Peter Harvey

     Modern forest harvesting in Culbin Woods, near Forres.
                               Picture: Forestry Commission

                      Stills in the new £40 million distillery
                                for Diageo at Roseisle, Moray.
                                               Picture: Diageo

Whisky barrels ready and waiting for a refill.

Another of Moray’s major employers is
                                                 A boat on the slipway for repair.
Johnstons of Elgin whose textiles mill
has been in continuous production
for over 200 years. The company
specialises in the manufacture of
cashmere and other luxury fabrics.

With so many visitor attractions, it will
come as no surprise that tourism is a
vitally important component of the
Moray economy and helps to support
more than 3,000 jobs in the retail
and hospitality sectors.

The small business sector also makes
a valuable contribution to the economy
and Moray has a sizeable number of
cottage industries and one-man and
one-woman businesses.

Recent years have also seen an
expansion in the range of companies
involved in cutting-edge technology
and communications.

 Golf, Other Good Walks and Grand Days Out

                                            Action at one of Moray’s many bowling clubs.
 When it comes to choice and quality
 of golf courses, Moray can justifiably
 claim to be well above par.

 Few areas of similar size in Scotland
 – the home of golf – can have as
 many courses of such a high standard.

 Thousands of people visit Moray
 every year simply to sample its
 golfing facilities, and they do not
 go away disappointed.

 There are courses to suit all abilities,
 from high handicappers to those
 who play the game at the very top
 level, all of whom have a choice of
 lush parkland courses or challenging
 links courses.

                                                                                                   hillside amid some of Moray’s most
                                                                                                   beautiful scenery.

                                                                                                   While Moray is at sea level and, as
                                                                                                   far as golf courses go, as flat as a
                                                                                                   pancake, to caddy at Dufftown
                                                                                                   requires the stamina of a Sherpa.

                                                                                                   The ninth tee stands 1,294ft above sea
                                                                                                   level, making it one of the highest in
                                                                                                   Britain. The drop from tee to fairway
                                                                                                   is 200ft, with a further drop of 130ft
                                                                                                   to the green.

                                                                                                   Dufftown also has one of the shortest
                                                                                                   holes in Scotland – just 67 yards off
                                                                                                   the visitors’ tee but with a deep ravine
                                                                                                   between tee and green.
                                                                            Putting at Dufftown.
                                                                                  One of the first things that strikes the
                                                            Picture courtesy Dufftown Golf Club
                                                                                  visitor to Cullen Golf Club is how it
                                                                                  was possible to squeeze an 18-hole
 Not only that, Moray also boasts           regarded as one of the most demanding course into such a narrow strip of
 some of the cheapest golf anywhere         finishing holes in Scottish golf.     land adjacent to the sandy beach.
 in the country. Where else can you
 enjoy a day’s golf for as little as £20?   The New Course, at just over 6,000                     The original nine holes were laid
                                            yards, was designed by Sir Henry                       out by Old Tom Morris, often regarded
 Moray Golf Club in Lossiemouth, with       Cotton and has also gained a reputation                as the father of golf, in 1870 and
 its two 18 hole links courses, was         as a tough test of golf since it opened                the course now has an outward
                                                                                                   nine which go up, over and down
 founded in 1889 and its 6,687 yard         for play in the late 1970s.
                                                                                                   80ft cliffs and a home nine which
 Old Course is generally regarded as                                                               hug the shoreline.
 one of the best in the north of            At the opposite end of the golfing
 Scotland. The 18th, with a cavernous       spectrum is Dufftown Golf Club,                        Garmouth and Kingston, on the banks
 bunker guarding the green, is widely       perched high on a heather-clad                         of the River Spey, and Hopeman

share the distinction of being part
links, part parkland courses, while
both of Buckie’s courses, Buckpool
and Strathlene are long-established
links courses, as is Spey Bay.

Elgin and Forres are two of Moray’s
most popular parkland courses, with
tree-lined fairways and immaculately
manicured greens, and both have
hosted major tournaments.

There are also golf courses at Keith
and Rothes – the latter is nine holes
and was opened only in 1990 – while
there are two nine-hole pay-as-you
play courses at the Kinloss Country
Golf Club.

Golf is also a recent innovation at
Ballindalloch Castle where the course,
set in magnificent surroundings on
the banks of the fast-flowing River
Avon, has nine holes and 18 tees.
                                              Mountain biking in a Moray forest.
The configuration enables golfers to
play two distinctive sets of nine holes.

                                            The tenth hole from the Medal Tee in Dufftown.
                                                       Picture courtesy Dufftown Golf Club

 Golf, other good walks and grand days out continued…

 Moray has two of the finest salmon       of walkers have enjoyed the beautiful     to yachting marinas in recent times,
 rivers in Scotland in the Spey and the   scenery through which it passes.          most notably Lossiemouth, Findochty
 Findhorn and while the cost of pitting                                             and Portknockie.
 one’s wits against the king of fish is   There are many other way-marked
 beyond the pocket of most people,        walks throughout Moray, including         Royal Findhorn Yacht Club overlooks
 limited day tickets can be obtained      the sprawling Culbin Forest and           scenic Findhorn Bay and the
 through local angling associations.      the Glenlivet Estate, and there is        Moray Forth and enjoys some of
                                          also a trail which links the towns        the safest and most sheltered
 Fishing is also available on several     and villages situated along Moray’s       moorings anywhere in the area.
 well-stocked lochs in the area and in    50 miles of coastline.
 recent years a number of man-made                                                  Lovers of the great outdoors are
 fisheries have also been created to      The increase in the popularity of         well catered for in Moray, and with
 cater for angling enthusiasts.           mountain biking has not bypassed          endless miles of forest, moorland
                                          Moray and, largely due to the efforts     and coastline it is a paradise for
 The Speyside Way is one of four          of the Forestry Commission, the area      walkers and cyclists.
 official long-distance routes in         now has a number of woodland trails
 Scotland and stretches 65 miles          with courses for both novices and
 from Aviemore to Buckie.                 experienced mountain bikers.

 It follows the course of the River       The growth in popularity of weekend
 Spey for much of the way and since       sailing has seen several former fishing
 it opened in 1981 many thousands         ports along the Moray coast converted     Fun on the shoreline on a summer evening.


ELGIN                                      James Boswell, stopped off during         Visitors to the town have a choice of
                                           their journey to the Hebrides and         hotels and guesthouses in which to
With the imposing ruins of its             found it a “place of little trade, and    stay and Elgin boasts a variety of
medieval cathedral standing witness        thinly inhabited.”                        pubs and good quality restaurants to
to its often turbulent history Elgin is,                                             suit all tastes.
and has been for centuries, Moray’s        They also bemoaned the fact that the
principal settlement. It is the main       dinner served up to them at the best      Within only a few minutes’ walk of
administrative centre and is the           inn in town was inedible.                 the town centre is Elgin’s jewel in
economic, commercial, industrial and                                                 the crown, the Cooper Park which,
social hub of Moray.                       “Such disappointments,” they said,        with its boating pond and acres of
                                           “must be expected in every country        parkland, has been popular with
Its population of 22,000 is more           where there is no great frequency         generations of local people and visitors.
than twice that of the next largest        of travellers.”
centre of population and it is the                                                   Close to the cathedral, where those
main work destination from within          More than two centuries on, Elgin         energetic enough to climb to the top of
Moray and beyond.                          is well served in terms of transport      the tower can enjoy panoramic views
                                           links, located as it is on the A96        of the town, is the Biblical Garden, a
Elgin has been the traditional seat        trunk road and the Aberdeen-              haven of peace and tranquility planted
of local government for generations        Inverness railway line and with the       with flowers and shrubs which feature
and is where Moray Council, the            area’s main bus terminus sited close      in the Bible.
unitary authority charged with             to the town centre.
delivering services to the public,                                                   Elgin’s award-winning local museum,
has its headquarters.                      Inverness airport, with routes to         which can be found at the east
                                           destinations around Britain, is only      end of High Street, houses an
A city and royal burgh, Elgin was          45 minutes away while the larger          internationally renowned collection
granted its charter by David I in 1136     regional airport at Aberdeen is little    of fossils and Pictish artefacts in
and became a cathedral city in the         more than an hour’s drive.                addition to Roman coins found at
early 13th century.                                                                  an important archaeological site at
                                           Elgin also stands on the River Lossie     Birnie, near Elgin.
Although the cathedral was razed to        which, although normally benign, has
the ground in 1340 by the marauding        been the source of severe flooding on     In Dr Gray’s, Elgin boasts one of the
Wolf of Badenoch, the shell of the         several occasions over recent years       most modern and best-equipped
building remains Elgin’s most              and as a consequence of which work        hospitals outside the major Scottish
impressive landmark.                       has begun on a £86 million flood          cities, while Moray College provides
                                           alleviation scheme.                       further education for thousands of
It is in the ownership of Historic                                                   students from a wide area.
Scotland and every year attracts           Funded by the Scottish Government
thousands of visitors from all over        and Moray Council, it will represent      Elgin has two secondary schools and
the world.                                 the biggest project of its kind           seven primary schools and is also
                                           undertaken in Scotland.                   well-served in terms of sports and
The Elgin skyline is dominated by the                                                recreational facilities. The Moray
80ft monument to the 5th Duke of           As the capital of Moray, Elgin supports   Leisure Centre has a swimming pool,
Gordon which stands on Ladyhill,           a thriving commercial and industrial      ice rink and gymnasium while there
a prominent mound which was once           sector with many national companies       are also a number of privately-run gyms
the location of Elgin Castle, little of    having a presence.                        and martial arts studios in the town.
which has survived the ravages of time.
                                           Elgin’s bustling town centre, with        Bowlers are well catered for with an
Although Elgin continued to flourish       St Giles’ Church at its heart, was        indoor stadium and three outdoor
down through the centuries and             pedestrianised in the mid 1990s and       greens, while Elgin Golf Club, on the
established its credentials as the         is Moray’s busiest shopping centre.       outskirts of the town, welcomes
area’s main commercial centre, not                                                   visitors to pit their skills against the
everyone was impressed.                    The central area is characterised by a    challenging and well-maintained
                                           series of historic pends - or closes -    Hardhillock course.
In 1773 the celebrated essayist and        which run at right angles off the High
lexicographer Dr Johnson and his           Street and which were once teeming        Elgin City play in the Third Division of
travelling companion and biographer,       with families living cheek-by-jowl.       the Scottish Football League, although

Towns continued…

their finest hour came when, as a          Ambassador to Constantinople.
Highland League club, they pro-            The Marbles are in the British
gressed to the quarter-finals of the       Museum in London and have been
Scottish Cup in season 1967-68.            the subject of a long-running and
                                           often bitter campaign by the Greek
Something that the visitor to Elgin will   government to have them returned.
not find are the Elgin Marbles whose
connection with the town are, to say       The title of Earl of Elgin was created
the least, tenuous.                        in 1633 but, other than in name,
                                           the family has no link with Elgin.
                                           The ancestral seat is, in fact, in Fife.
As most school children know, the
Marbles are a collection of priceless
sculptures removed from Athens in
the early 19th century by the 7th Earl
of Elgin during his time as British

                                                                                                All information correct at time of publication August 2011

Towns continued…

FORRES                                    Sueno’s Stone, a 20ft high monolith,        It was founded with a bequest from
                                          stands at the edge of the town close to     one of Forres’s most famous sons, Dr
Forres has gained well-earned fame for    the A96 trunk road and dates from           Hugh Falconer, an eminent Victorian
its run of successes in national floral   Pictish times.                              geologist, botanist and palaeontologist.
and environmental competitions
stretching back more than 20 years.       Now encased in glass to protect it from     The museum houses a wide-ranging
                                          the elements, the stone carries intricate   collection which includes many of
The town has won a string of              carvings believed to depict an ancient      the fossils which Falconer collected
accolades in major events such            battle.                                     during his illustrious career, along
as Britain In Bloom and Beautiful                                                     with some of his personal papers.
Scotland In Bloom which are a             Standing on Clunyhill and overlooking
credit to the pride residents take in     Forres is Nelson’s Tower, built by pub-     It also has a section on the late Roy
their local community.                    lic subscription to commemorate             Williamson, who lived in Forres and
                                          Nelson’s victory at the Battle of           wrote Flower Of Scotland.
Grant Park provides a magnificent         Trafalgar in 1805. Commissioned by
                                          the Forres Trafalgar Club, it was           Only a few miles to the west of Forres
eastern gateway to the town with
                                          the first monument erected in Nelson’s      is Brodie Castle, the ancestral home
its floral sculptures, sunken garden
                                          honour following his death.                 of the Brodie clan and a National
and parkland with an imposing
                                                                                      Trust for Scotland property since the
woodland backdrop.
                                                                                      late 1970s.
                                          The 65ft octagonal tower, with its
Forres has long been considered one       96 steps to the top, is open to the
                                                                                      The castle is open to the public and,
of Moray’s greener and more pleasant      public during the summer and
                                                                                      in the spring, its grounds are swathed
communities with an identity all of       commands spectacular views over
                                                                                      in yellow with magnificent displays
its own.                                  Forres and beyond.
                                                                                      of daffodils.
A historic town, it features in           High on the list of the town’s many
Shakespeare’s Macbeth where the           assets is the Falconer Museum,
three witches of hubble, bubble, toil     founded in 1871 and recently the
and trouble fame meet on “a blasted       subject of a £650,000 refurbishment.
heath near Forres.”

Towns continued…

BUCKIE                                  The importance of the fishing industry    Buckie’s most prominent landmark,
                                        and ancillary industries to Buckie past   which can be seen from miles around
Buckie is Moray’s largest coastal
                                        and present is in evidence at the         and was a welcome sight for fishermen
settlement and owes its existence to
                                        Buckie Fishing Heritage Centre near       as they approached the safety of their
the fishing industry which continues
                                        the town centre.                          home port after days at sea, is St
to make a valuable contribution to
                                                                                  Peter’s Church, which stands sentinel
the town’s economy.
                                        The centre houses a vast range of         over the town and is Britain’s only
                                        items and photographs dating back         twin-spired Roman Catholic church.
Many of those who have been                                                       Cluny Square marks the centre of
                                        generations and has recently been
steeped in the fishing industry have                                              Buckie, with most shops and offices
                                        renovated and extended to show off
made good use of their skills learned                                             located on East Church Street, West
                                        the collection to better effect.
at sea by transferring to standby                                                 Church Street and High Street.
                                        In characteristic fisherfolk fashion,
vessels and supply ships associated
                                        many of the houses in the older parts
with the North Sea oil industry.                                                  Buckie, whose leisure facilities
                                        of Buckie such as the Yardie and
                                        Portessie are built side-on to the sea    include a swimming pool and fitness
Although the number of fish landings                                              centre, has a holiday caravan park at
                                        to present as small a profile as
made at Buckie has reduced in                                                     Strathlene, on the eastern edge of the
                                        possible to stormy weather coming
recent times, the harbour is busy                                                 town and only yards from a small
                                        in off the Moray Firth.
with commercial traffic and also has                                              sandy stretch of beach.
Moray’s only RNLI lifeboat station.

Unsurprisingly, the area is also
home to companies whose business
is harbour-related, such as fish
processors and ships’ chandlers.

Towns continued…

LOSSIEMOUTH                              In recent years the harbour was        The museum includes a re-creation of
                                         converted to a yachting marina and     the study of Lossiemouth’s most
Lossiemouth’s founding fathers were
                                         the town has become a magnet for       famous son and Britain’s first Labour
the merchants and civic leaders of
                                         weekend sailors from a wide area.      Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald.
Elgin who were in desperate need of
                                                                                The cottage where MacDonald was
a port through which to import and                                              born into poverty still stands, as
                                         With long sandy beaches stretching
export goods if the royal burgh was      east and west and an esplanade         does the house where he later lived
to continue to prosper.                  overlooking the mouth of the River     and which is still in the ownership of
                                         Lossie, the town has always been a     the family.
And so Lossiemouth was born around       popular destination with people from
the middle of the 18th century and       far and near and attracts many
gradually expanded to develop its        holidaymakers in summer.
own identity as a fishing port.
                                         A fisheries’ museum now occupies a
The twin basins of its present harbour   building on the harbour quayside
were home to a flourishing fishing       which was once used to store and
fleet for generations but like so many   mend fishing nets.
other smaller ports, it experienced a
slow and terminal decline in the
fishing industry.

Towns continued…

KEITH                                   It is the only agricultural event of          Keith has a recently upgraded
                                        its kind in Moray and attracts                railway station and also stands at
For many years Keith was synonymous
                                        thousands of visitors to enjoy a              one end of the 11-mile Dufftown-
with the Scottish textiles industry                                                   Keith line where pleasure trips are
                                        packed programme of activities
which formed the backbone of the        and entertainment.                            operated throughout the summer by
town’s economy.                                                                       volunteers of the Keith and Dufftown
                                        The other big event in the Keith              Railway Association.
But the industry became unravelled      calendar is the town’s weekend of
due to competition from overseas        traditional music and song which              The town’s main shopping area,
where costs were lower and within       attracts performers from all over Scotland.   Mid Street, carries only one-way
a relatively short period Keith and                                                   traffic and has free car parking only
textiles had parted company,            Keith is rare among settlements in            yards from the shops.
although the town is still home to      having two squares – Regent Square
Scotland’s first and only kilt-making   in Fife-Keith, the older part of the
                                        town, and Reidhaven Square in the
school situated at the former
                                        newer part.
Islabank mills.
                                        Distilling has been a cornerstone of
Much of the area surrounding Keith is   the Keith economy for as long as
farmland and each year in August the    anyone can remember and the town's
town’s Seafield Park hosts the Great    Strathisla Distillery is one of the most
Keith Show where farmers bring their    popular stop-offs on Moray’s Malt
livestock for judging.                  Whisky Trail.

Towns continued…

DUFFTOWN                                    Today thousands of visitors flock        Dufftown’s Highland Games are among
If the world has a whisky capital, it is    to the town for distillery tours and     the longest-established in Scotland
Dufftown, with its concentration of         to sample Scotland’s national drink      and have been held annually since
distilleries producing fine malts which     at source.                               1892 and possibly long before that.
are enjoyed by people all over the globe.   The square in Dufftown is dominated
                                            by the Clocktower which originally
Although the town was not founded
                                            served as the local jail and later the
until 1817, the area was already
                                            burgh chambers, before being converted
infamous for illegal whisky making
                                            into a tourist information centre.
and it was perhaps fitting that the
first approved distillery to open was
                                            The remains of Balvenie Castle,
built on the site of an illicit still.
                                            built in the 13th century, are in the
                                            ownership of Historic Scotland and
It was joined later in the 19th century
                                            are open to the public, as is the
by six more, resulting in a well-known
                                            historic and picturesque Mortlach
local saying that if Rome was built on
                                            Church, whose origins can be traced
seven hills, then Dufftown was built on
                                            back nearly 1,500 years.
seven stills.

Towns continued…

OTHER COMMUNITIES                         Further upriver and into whisky country    The original village was swallowed up
                                          are Rothes and Aberlour and, lying         by sea and sand more than 300 years
Many of the smaller communities           between them, Craigellachie and its        ago and the present village is the
have a character all of their own and     iconic Telford Bridge spanning the Spey.   second to bear the name.
each plays its part in making Moray
such a pleasant and rewarding area        The structure, built in the early          Nearby is the Findhorn Foundation, a
to live and to visit.                     1800s, is the oldest surviving iron        spiritual community which began life
                                          bridge in Scotland and is considered
                                                                                     in a caravan in the 1960s and which
The neighbouring coastal towns of         to be one of Thomas Telford’s finest
                                                                                     has grown into an internationally
Cullen, Portknockie and Findochty,        engineering achievements. Along with
                                                                                     renowned centre for the arts and
each with its neat little harbour, have   Elgin Cathedral, it is one of Moray’s
                                          most photographed buildings.               global sustainability.
a close-knit feel to them and where
traditional values remain strong.
                                          Of all Moray’s communities,                Burghead, with its harbour still used
                                          Tomintoul is farthest inland and,          by a fleet of small fishing vessels, can
Cullen, with its imposing but long-
disused viaduct, is best known as the     standing at 1150ft above sea level, is     trace its roots back to Pictish times
home of ‘Cullen skink’, a delicious       the second highest village in Scotland.    and its former coastguard lookout post
soup-like dish of fish and potatoes.                                                 has recently been converted into a
                                          With its long main street, the village     local heritage centre.
Further west, the villages of Spey        depends heavily on summer tourist
Bay, Garmouth and Kingston are            trade although it also benefits from       The town’s Pictish past is revived every
clustered round the estuary of the        the proximity of the Lecht ski centre.     year with the annual Burning of the
River Spey.                                                                          Clavie ceremony, one of Scotland’s few
                                          Heading back towards the coast is          surviving fire-worshipping ceremonies.
Garmouth was the scene of the             the small village of Dallas which was
signing of the Solemn League and          catapulted into the limelight in the
                                                                                  Nearby Hopeman, which celebrated
Covenant by King Charles II on his        late 1970s thanks to the hit American
                                                                                  its bicentenary in 2005, started out
return from exile in 1650 and             television soap of the same name.
                                                                                  as a fishing village but diversified with
villagers continue to observe the
                                          Although it had little or nothing in    the development of two major local
annual Maggie Fair, one of the
                                          common with its Texan namesake,         quarries at Greenbrae and Clashach,
oldest-established street markets of
its kind in Scotland.                     Dallas nonetheless basked in its hour with stone being shipped from the
                                          of global glory as inquisitive visitors harbour to sites around the country
Only a few miles upriver is Fochabers,    from all over the world arrived to see  and beyond.
founded in 1776 by the Duke of            if Moray had its own versions of
Gordon. The original settlement was,      JR and Southfork!
from the duke’s point of view,
uncomfortably close to his family pile    Overlooking a tidal bay and the Moray
at Gordon Castle and he decided that      Firth, Findhorn is one of Moray’s
his subjects should be kept at arm’s      quaintest and most-visited villages
length by moving the village.             and over the years has become some-
                                          thing of a playground for yachting and
Fochabers has a village square with       watersport enthusiasts.
church and fountain and can also
claim to have one of the prettiest
cricket grounds in Scotland, perched
as it is on the banks of the Spey.

Historic Personalities
Throughout recorded history, Moray
has spawned its share of the great,
the good and the not so good. It has
produced brilliant academics,
captains of industry, successful
politicians, scientists, adventurers,
philanthropists and a few ne’er-do-wells.

There are those who have brought
honour to Moray and others whom
their homeland would happily disown.

But each has his or her own place in
the illustrious history of an area,
which continues to take a pride in
its sons and daughters who have
made good.

And they don’t come much better
than Saint John Ogilvie, Scotland’s
only post-Reformation saint who was           Ramsay MacDonald.
born near Keith in 1579.

He studied at Catholic schools in           Seeking revenge, the Wolf and his           His political career took off and in
mainland Europe and was ordained as         men left their lair at Lochindorb           1924, as leader of the Opposition,
a priest in Paris before returning to       Castle, in the middle of a loch on the      was asked by King George V to form
Scotland to minister to the few remaining   bleak Dava Moor between Forres and          a government when the small
Catholics in the Glasgow area. He           Grantown-on-Spey, and bore down on          Conservative majority in the House
began to preach in secret and to            Elgin where they sacked and burned          of Commons proved unworkable.
celebrate mass clandestinely but it         the cathedral and much of the town.
was not long before he was betrayed.                                                    Within a year there would be a
                                            According to legend, the Wolf died          General Election and MacDonald’s
Ogilvie was tortured in a bid to force      after losing a chess game with the Devil.   short-lived government was defeated.
him to reveal the identities of other       He lies buried in Dunkeld Cathedral.
Catholics, but he steadfastly refused.                                                  But he was given a second bite of the
He was convicted of high treason and        The British equivalent of America’s         cherry in 1929 when he again headed
hanged at Glasgow Cross in 1615,            log cabin-to-President dream came
                                                                                        a minority government which survived
aged 36.                                    true for James Ramsay MacDonald,
                                                                                        through turbulent times until 1935.
                                            the illegitimate son of a servant girl
He was beatified as a martyr in 1929        who went on to become Britain’s first
                                                                                        MacDonald built a house in
and canonised in 1976 following the         Labour Prime Minister.
                                                                                        Lossiemouth and returned whenever
miracle cure of a Glasgow cancer
                                                                                        he could to escape the endless
sufferer who had prayed to Ogilvie.         MacDonald was born in Lossiemouth
                                            in 1866 and the cottage where he            pressures of political life. The house,
                                            first saw the light of day survives to      the Hillocks, remains in the
One of the most infamous characters
                                            this day. He was brought up in abject       ownership of his family.
in Moray’s history was Alexander
Stewart, better known as the Wolf of        poverty and his prospects were not
Badenoch, who terrorised much of            helped by the fact he had been born         Weary of politics and with his health
the north of Scotland in the late 14th      out of wedlock, a status that in those      in decline, MacDonald took his
century and whose name became               days carried a heavy stigma.                doctor’s advice and in 1937 left for
synonymous with death and destruction.                                                  a cruise to South America. He died
                                            MacDonald left for Bristol as a teenager    aboard the vessel at the age of
A son of King Robert II, he was a           to take up a post as a clergyman’s          71 and following a funeral service
philanderer whose marital infidelity        assistant but soon became involved in       in Westminster Abbey his ashes
riled the Bishop of Moray to the            politics and was elected as MP for          were buried at Spynie Churchyard
extent that he was excommunicated.          Leicester in 1906.                          on the outskirts of Elgin.

 Historic Personalities continued…

                                                     He had scant respect for authority          Morton Stanley to search for David
                                                     and during a dispute with                   Livingstone in darkest Africa. It was
                                                     Lossiemouth Town Council over               from the son that the phrase ‘Gordon
                                                     ownership of the town square he             Bennett’, denoting surprise or
                                                     had part of it ploughed up.                 exasperation, derives.

                                                     On the estate, he had a sneaking            Moray has produced a leading media
                                                     admiration for poachers, having             figure in more recent times, BBC
                                                     been one himself. In his younger            radio presenter James Naughtie,
                                                     day he had made a wager with a              who was brought up at Rothiemay
                                                     Highland laird that he could poach          and was head boy at Keith Grammar
                                                     a stag from his land without                School before embarking on a career
                                                     getting caught. He won the bet              in journalism.
                                                     and had the £20 cheque framed.
                                                     The story became the inspiration            He wrote for the Scotsman, the
                                                     for author John Buchan’s novel
                                                                                                 Washington Post and the Guardian
                                                     John Macnab.
                                                                                                 before moving to radio journalism.
                                                     Several years before his death on
                                                                                                 The late Jessie Kesson was a writer of
                                                     Christmas Day 1969, one of Brander-
                                                                                                 a very different kind, a novelist whose
 One of MacDonald’s closest friends,                 Dunbar’s favourite oak trees on Pitgaveny
                                                                                                 works were largely autobiographical
 Captain James Brander-Dunbar, was                   Estate was blown down in a gale and
                                                                                                 and drawn from her austere upbringing.
 also one of Moray’s most colourful                  he had his coffin made from it.
 characters of recent generations.                                                               Born in a workhouse, she lived in
                                                     He penned his own epitaph: “A fine
                                                     natural blackguard who gave greater         poverty in one of Elgin’s town centre
 Brander-Dunbar was Laird of                                                                     closes with her unmarried mother.
                                                     justice than ever he got.”
 Pitgaveny, an estate which lies
 between Elgin and Lossiemouth,                                                                  Those formative years inspired
                                                     James Gordon Bennett, born at Newmill,
 and died aged 94 following an                       near Keith, in 1795, emigrated to           her first and best-known novel,
 eventful and often controversial life.              North America where he founded and          The White Bird Passes, which was
                                                     edited the New York Herald which            published in 1958.
 He fought in the Boer War where                     went on to boast the highest
 he led what was the first-ever                      circulation in the United States.           Kesson went on to produce Women’s
 commando-style unit, and later                                                                  Hour on BBC Radio and also wrote
 served in the colonial service in                   On his retirement he handed control         plays for radio and TV. She spent the
 Africa where he gained a reputation                 to his son, James Gordon Bennett            latter years of her life in London
 as a big game hunter.                               Junior, who commissioned Henry              where she died in 1994.

              Above: Captain James Brander-Dunbar.

                            Right: James Naughtie.

A Moray loon who headed Stateside         The Falconer Museum in Forres, built
in the 19th century was James             with a bequest from Falconer and
Philip, born and brought up on a          opened within six years of his death,
farm at Dallas.                           is a memorial to his scientific
                                          achievements and has a section
Philip – dubbed Scotty in deference       dedicated to the man and his work.
to his homeland - is credited with
helping to save the American bison        Dufftown-born George Stephen -
from extinction.                          later to become Lord Mountstephen -
                                          emigrated to Canada at the age of 21
The bison - or buffalo as it was          and soon became a prominent
commonly known - had been hunted          businessmen with a particular interest
to the verge of oblivion and in the       in railways. He played a pivotal role
1890s Philip inherited a small herd       in developing the rail network and in
of survivors which he moved to his        the construction of the Canadian
ranch. By 1914 the herd was               Pacific Railway. He returned to live in
400-strong and were the ancestors of      Britain in 1888 and died in 1921.
many of the wild bison which roam
free over North America today.            Mountstephen was joined in
                                          developing Canada’s fledgling rail
Another of Moray’s greatest benefactors   network by his cousin, Lord
was Hugh Falconer, a distinguished        Strathcona, who was born plain
natural historian and contemporary        Donald Smith in Forres in 1820.
of Charles Darwin.
                                          He worked in the Forres town clerk’s
Born in Forres in 1808, he studied        office before seeking his fortune in
the flora, fauna and geology of large     Canada and drove the last spike in        Although not a Moravian by birth,
parts of India and Burma and              the Canadian Pacific Railway at           the author of the Biggles novels,
became an authority on fossils.           Craigellachie, British Columbia, in 1885. Captain W.E. Johns, penned many
                                                                                    of his best-known works in Moray.
He spent 25 years in India before         A politician and philanthropist, he
being forced to leave because of ill      was Canada’s High Commissioner to         He visited the area frequently on
health, but his research continued        Britain from 1896 to 1913, the year       fishing holidays and for several years
until his death in London in 1865.        before his death.                         in the late 1940s and 1950s spent
                                                                                    the summer at Pitchroy on the
                                                                                    Ballindalloch Estate, where at least
                                                                                    15 of the Biggles series of adventure
                                                                                    novels were written. Johns returned
                                                                                    south in 1953 and died in London
                                                                                    in 1968.

                                                                                    Above: Lord Mountstephen.

                                                                                    Left: Hugh Falconer.

 Fifty things to see and do in                                                  moray
 ELGIN CATHEDRAL                           its kind in Scotland with only a third
 One of Scotland’s finest medieval         showing above ground level. It was
 buildings, the cathedral – known as       built in 1830 and was used as a cold
 the Lantern of the North - was laid       store to keep locally-caught salmon
 waste by the Wolf of Badenoch in          fresh until shipping.
 1390 but its magnificent ruins
 provide a wonderful insight into          MORAY FIRTH WILDLIFE CENTRE
 what it must once have looked like.       The disused fishing station at Tugnet
 Open daily throughout the summer,         was converted to a wildlife centre in
 restricted opening in winter.             the mid 1990s and is now run by
 Admission charge.                         the Whale and Dolphin Conservation
                                           Society. It is also a study centre for
 SPYNIE PALACE                             the Moray Firth’s rare bottlenose
 Situated a mile from Elgin off the        dolphins which can often be seen
 A941 Elgin-Lossiemouth road, it was       close inshore.
 the residence of the Bishops of Moray
 for five centuries until 1686.            PORTKNOCKIE HARBOUR
 Although much of the palace has
                                           The small picturesque harbour was
 gone, a substantial part remains.
                                           built in 1890 in a cove sheltered from
 Open daily throughout the summer,
                                           the sea by a promontory which was
 restricted opening in winter.
                                           once a Pictish stronghold, although a
 Admission charge.
                                           harbour of sorts probably existed long
 ELGIN MUSEUM                              before that. The harbour can only be
 Owned and run by the Moray Society,       reached by a very steep approach       RESTAURANTS
 the museum was founded in 1842            road from the village which perches
                                                                                  Moray has scores of restaurants
 “for the collection and preservation      above.
                                                                                  across the area with a wide range of
 of objects of science and virtue.” Its
                                           CULLEN VIADUCT                         fare on offer. Everything from a full-on
 collection includes Roman coins
 found at an archaeological site at        One of Moray’s best-known land-        gourmet experience to a quick pub
 Birnie, near Elgin. Open April to         marks, the long-disused stone viaduct lunch can be had within a small
 October. Admission charge.                towers over Cullen. The railway had    radius of most towns.
                                           to be constructed over the town,
 TUGNET ICE HOUSE                          rather than past it, because the then  MALT WHISKY TRAIL
 A three-vaulted ice house located         Countess of Seafield would not allow
                                                                                  The world’s only malt whisky trail
 near the mouth of the River Spey at       it to run through the grounds of
                                                                                  connects seven working distilleries –
 Spey Bay, it is the largest building of   Cullen House.
                                                                                  Benromach, Cardhu, Glenfiddich,
                                                                                  Glen Grant, Glenlivet, Glen Moray and
                                                                                  Strathisla – the Speyside Cooperage
                                                                                  and the Dallas Dhu time capsule
                                                                                  distillery owned by Historic Scotland.
                                                                                  All the sites offer guided tours.

                                                                                               FINDHORN FOUNDATION
                                                                                               With its roots planted in the 1960s,
                                                                                               the Findhorn Foundation is a spiritual
                                                                                               community of around 400 people who
                                                                                               have become known for their empathy
                                                                                               with nature and sustainable living.
                                                                                               The foundation runs a series
                                                                                               of educational programmes and every
                                                                                               year welcomes thousands of people
                                                                                               from around the world to take part in
                                                   Barrel Houses at the Findhorn Foundation.
                                                                                               residential courses.

BRODIE CASTLE                            sacrifice, it is believed the cave was      young pianists from all over Britain
Four miles west of Forres, the 16th      the final resting place of Picts who        and beyond. It takes place at Elgin
century castle houses collections of     had died in childhood and whose             Town Hall over a weekend in
art and antiques which include           heads were severed and placed on
                                                                                     November and is split into competitions
French furniture, porcelain from         poles. The cave is accessible only at
                                         low tide.                                   for pianists aged 20 and under, 16
different parts of the world and many
paintings. It is the ancestral home                                                  and under and 12 and under.
of the Brodie family but is now in the   BALVENIE CASTLE
ownership of the National Trust for      The imposing ruins of Balvenie Castle     WARTIME DEFENCES
Scotland. Open from Easter               at Dufftown are what remains of an        Moray has some of the best preserved
to October. Admission charge.            impressive fortification dating from      wartime coastal defences anywhere in
Castle grounds open all year.            the 13th century. It had a succession
                                                                                   Scotland and their survival gives a
                                         of owners before it shared the fate of
                                         many similar buildings by gradually       fascinating insight into how Britain
                                         falling into a state of disrepair. Open   hoped to defend itself in the event of a
One of the area’s most popular
beauty spots, the country park at        daily throughout the summer.              seaborne invasion during World War II.
Millbuies, four miles from Elgin, was    Admission charge.                         Although many have been swallowed
gifted by philanthropist George Boyd                                               up by shifting sand and shingle, long
Anderson. It has pleasant walks          FAMOUS FOCHABERIANS GARDEN lines of large concrete blocks and
around a loch on which there is trout    The commemorative garden honouring
                                                                                   pillboxes still exist to the west of
fishing. A wayfaring map and nature      famous people from Fochabers was
                                         opened in 2002. It was laid out at        Kingston and along Roseisle beach.
trail booklets are available.
                                         the entrance to the village cricket field
                                         on the banks of the Spey, with two        WHISKY FESTIVAL
The mill which today produces            standing stones bearing the names         Aficionados of Scotland’s national
cashmere and other luxury fabrics        of 21 Fochaberians who achieved           drink make the annual pilgrimage to
has stood on the same site since the     great things in their chosen field.       the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival
company was founded in 1797.                                                       which takes place in May. A packed
Guided tours of the mill are available   MORAY PIANO COMPETITION
                                                                                   programme of events spans several
                                         Since its inception in 2000 the
to visitors who can see the production                                             days and includes distillery tours,
                                         competition has gained a reputation
process from start to finish. There is                                             whisky tastings, talks, theme dinners,
                                         as one of the leading events of its
also a visitor centre, retail shop,
                                         kind by attracting many of the best       ceilidhs and visits to places of interest.
coffee shop and a new homeware
department. Open all year.

The iconic Telford Bridge at
Craigellachie is one of Moray’s most
photographed structures and is one
of the finest examples of Thomas
Telford’s work. Opened in 1814,
it carried vehicular traffic over the
River Spey until the early 1970s
when a new road bridge was built
downstream. The bridge has a single
150ft span and was revolutionary for
its time.

So called because of its ancient
inscriptions, Sculptor’s Cave is a sea
cave at Covesea, to the west of
Lossiemouth, where excavations have
uncovered large numbers of children’s      The band Wolfstone performing at
bones. Originally thought to have          The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

been the site of macabre human

 Fifty Things to See and Do in                       moray continued…
 ANGLING                                     KEITH SHOW                                It has examples of all 110 plants
 Moray has some of Scotland’s finest         The Keith Show staged over two days       mentioned in the Bible in addition to
 salmon rivers but permits are very          in early August is Moray’s only major     statues of biblical figures. Open May
 limited. There is trout fishing at          agricultural show and dates back to       to September, admission free.
 Millbuies Country Park and                  1872. Held at Seafield Park, it
 Glenlatterach reservoir, near Elgin.        attracts large entries of cattle,       MOUNTAIN BIKING
 They are managed by Moray Council           sheep and horses and is an important    The Forestry Commission has created
 and permits are required. There are         occasion on the local farming           three Moray Monster Trails to satisfy
 also a small number of privately            community’s calendar. Admission charge. mountain bikers of all abilities. The
 owned trout fisheries in the area.                                                  trails, totalling 17 miles in length, are
                                             RAMSAY MACDONALD’S                      located at Ordiquish and Whiteash,
 TOMINTOUL                                   BIRTHPLACE                              both on the outskirts of Fochabers,
 Moray’s highest community at 1150ft         The tiny cottage in Lossiemouth         and Ben Aigan, near Craigellachie.
                                             where Britain’s first Labour Prime      Routes are graded from green for
 above sea level, Tomintoul can trace
                                             Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, was         novices to black for experienced
 its origins back to 1775 when it was
                                             born in 1866 still stands. It is marked mountain bikers.
 founded by the Duke of Gordon. Its
                                             with a plaque but is not open to the
 resident population of just over 300
                                             public. MacDonald’s remains are         COOPER PARK
 is swollen by large numbers of              buried in the family tomb at Spynie     Gifted to the people of Elgin in 1902
 tourists in summer and its economy          Kirkyard, near Elgin.                   by Sir George Cooper, the Cooper Park
 also relies in no small measure to the                                              is the town’s most popular recreational
 nearby Lecht Ski Centre.                    KEITH MUSIC FESTIVAL                    area. Covering some 40 acres on the
                                             Performers and fans from all over       banks of the River Lossie, it has a
 CLAVIE                                      Scotland flock to what has become       boating pond, tennis courts, a cricket
 On January 11 the people of                 known simply as the Keith Festival –    pitch, children’s playground, pitch-
 Burghead celebrate the Pictish New          a three-day celebration of Scottish     and-putt golf course and an aviary.
 Year with the Burning of the Clavie,        traditional music and song. Hotels,
 an ancient fire ceremony which,             pubs and local halls host ceilidhs,     BALLINDALLOCH CASTLE
 according to tradition, wards off evil      concerts and competitions during the The castle has been home to the
 spirits for the year ahead. A barrel        event, which has been held every        Macpherson-Grant family since
 filled with burning tar is carried          June for the past quarter of a century. 1546 and stands in a magnificent
 through the streets of the town, with                                               setting between the River Spey and
 smouldering embers handed out as a          BIBLICAL GARDEN                         one of its tributaries, the Avon. The
 token of good luck.                         Occupying a secluded area in the        castle and its extensive grounds,
                                             shadow of Elgin Cathedral, the walled including a walled garden, are open
 MAGGIE FAIR                                 Biblical Garden was the first of        daily, apart from Saturday, from
 Every June for more than 400 years          its kind to be created in Scotland.     April to September.
 Garmouth has celebrated Maggie
 Fair when stalls and sideshows are                                                     Visitors arrive for a distillery tour at Dufftown.
 set up in the heart of the village.
 It is one of the few street fairs still
 surviving in Scotland and is believed
 to take its name from Lady Margaret
 Ker, the wife of the local laird and by
 all accounts very popular with villagers.

 Built in 1609, the Auld Brig in Keith
 was a packhorse bridge built of stone
 and is one of the oldest surviving
 structures of its kind in Scotland. It
 was designed to take people on foot
 or ponies and horses but not a cart
 or carriage.

The site of Elgin Castle in medieval
times, the mound known as Ladyhill
is where Elgin’s most prominent
landmark, the monument to the 5th
Duke of Gordon, can be seen. The
80ft column was erected in 1839
and the statue of the duke added
in 1855.

The centre of Elgin is dominated by
St Giles’ Church, built in 1827 and
named in honour of the town’s patron        an unrivalled collection of exhibits       SCALAN
saint. Nearby is the Muckle Cross, a        which traces the history of the fishing    The survival of Catholicism in
market cross restored in 1888 after         and boat-building industries in the        Scotland following the Reformation
the original was demolished, while at       area. Housed in a converted cottage        owes much to Scalan, a small
the east end of High Street is the          and run by volunteers, the centre          seminary nestling in the hills at the
Little Cross where transgressors had        has over 7,000 photographs and a           remote Braes of Glenlivet where
punishment meted out to them. The                                                      young priests were trained. The
                                            comprehensive database of all
west end of High Street is dominated                                                   original building was destroyed after
                                            vessels built in local boatyards over
by the façade of Dr Gray’s Hospital                                                    Culloden but it was replaced in the
                                            the years. Open during the summer,
with its commanding dome.                                                              1770s by the simple building which
                                            otherwise by arrangement.
                                                                                       survives today and which is looked
GOLF                                                                                   after by the Scalan Association.
Anyone coming to Moray for a                GROUSE INN
                                                                                       It is open to visitors year round.
fortnight’s holiday can play a round        Situated on the A941 Dufftown to
of golf on a different course every day.    Rhynie road at the Cabrach and
                                                                                       NELSON’S TOWER
Its reputation for choice and quality       surrounded by heather-clad hillside,       This octagonal tower at Forres was
of courses is unrivalled. Visitors are      the Grouse Inn has been a popular          built by public subscription in 1806
welcome at all 14 clubs and green           staging post for generations of hungry     to honour Horatio Nelson and his
fees are among the cheapest                 and thirsty travellers. The family-run     famous victory at Trafalgar. Visitors
anywhere in Scotland.                       business boasts one of the largest         can climb the 96-step spiral stairway
                                            collections of whiskies anywhere.          to the rooftop and enjoy spectacular
LECHT                                       Open daily throughout the summer.          views across the Moray Firth.
The Lecht ski centre straddles the                                                     The tower also houses Nelson
Cockbridge-Tomintoul road at just           BOTHY BALLADS FESTIVAL                     memorabilia. Open during the
over 2,000ft although the chairlifts        A full house is guaranteed for Elgin       summer, admission free.
rise to around 2,500ft. It is one of        Rotary Club’s annual festival of bothy
Scotland’s five ski centres and             ballads at the town hall. The event,       GRANT PARK
attracts winter sports enthusiasts          held in early February, is a celebration   With its wide open spaces and wooded
from far and near. In recent years          of the Doric and helps to keep alive       backdrop, Grant Park has played a
it has diversified to become a              many of the homespun songs which           pivotal role in Forres’s long-running
year-round resort, with quad bikes          emanated mainly from the north-east        successes in major national floral and
and karting among the attractions.          farming community of yesteryear. The       environmental competitions, among
                                            audience can also look forward to a        them Britain in Bloom and Beautiful
MORAY LEISURE CENTRE                                                                   Scotland In Bloom. The park’s sunken
                                            plate of stovies and a dram of whisky
Opened in 1993, the Moray Leisure                                                      garden and floral sculptures are a
                                            during the interval.
Centre in Elgin has a wide range of                                                    magnet for visitors.
facilities for people of all ages. Its 25
metre pool is used by swimmers both         SUENO’S STONE
                                                                                       FALCONER MUSEUM
for fun and fitness, while its ice rink     This 20ft high stone of Pictish origin     The museum in Forres was founded in
is popular with skaters and curlers         stands only yards from the main A96        1871 by the family of locally-born
and is also used for ice hockey. The        on the outskirts of Forres. Its carvings   naturalist and palaeontologist Dr Hugh
centre also has a health and wellness       date from 800 to 900AD and depict          Falconer, a contemporary of Darwin
suite and a healthy eating café and is      a bloody battle, although, in the          who did much of his research in India.
open seven days a week.                     absence of any inscription, exactly        Recently redeveloped, the museum
                                            which battle no one knows for sure.        houses a wide-ranging collection,
FISHING MUSEUM                              The stone was encased in glass a           including some of Falconer’s fossil finds.
The recently extended Buckie and            number of years ago to protect it          Open year round, restricted hours in
District Fishing Heritage Centre has        from further weathering.                   winter. Admission free.

 Fifty Things to See and Do in                      moray continued…
 SPEYFEST                                   in autumn. Sitting at one corner of the     suggests follows the course of the
 This four-day festival of Celtic culture   bay is the village of Findhorn, home        River Spey although the last few miles
 featuring music, song and crafts is        of the Royal Findhorn Yacht Club and        to Buckie hug the coastline. The route
 held in Fochabers, normally in late        with its own local heritage centre.         is waymarked and a number of maps
 July or early August. Organised by a
                                                                                        and leaflets are available. There is
 local committee, many of the events        PLUSCARDEN ABBEY
                                                                                        also a Speyside Way ranger service.
 take place in marquees pitched on          Located in a peaceful setting in the
 the village playing fields. The festival   Vale of Pluscarden, the abbey, founded
 features performers from home and          in 1230, is the only medieval               HIGHLAND GAMES
 abroad and has become an annual            monastery in Britain still inhabited by     Four of Moray’s communities stage
 fixture on the Scottish music scene.       monks. The small community of               their own annual Highland Games in
                                            Benedictine monks returned to               the summer – Dufftown, Tomintoul,
 FINDHORN BAY                               Pluscarden in 1948 to restore the           Aberlour and Forres. Featuring a
 One of Moray’s most scenic spots,          abbey which had been abandoned many         mixture of track and field events, the
 the bay’s shallow waters are popular       years before. Visitors are welcome.
                                                                                        emphasis is on the traditional
 with water sports enthusiasts and
                                                                                        competitions such as tossing the
 also provide a safe haven for yachts       SPEYSIDE WAY
 and pleasure craft. The bay is a           Walkers who want to enjoy some of           caber. The games are particularly
 designated nature reserve and              the best scenery that Moray has to          popular with visitors to the area and
 attracts thousands of migrating            offer could do worse than take to the       their participation in the various
 wildfowl and wading birds, particularly    Speyside Way, which as its name             competitions is encouraged.

                                                                                    Messing about in boats on a sunny day in Findhorn.


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