moray Official Guide
C o u n c i l
moray Official Guide
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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 www.moray.gov.uk
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 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
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
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 Speyside.com
A fiddler entertaining during the annual Spirit of Speyside whisky festival.
Picture: Spirit of Speyside.com
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
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
has been kept busy keeping pace with
the demand for new housing.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
Recent years have also seen an
expansion in the range of companies
involved in cutting-edge technology
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
hillside amid some of Moray’s most
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 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
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
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
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.
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.”
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
JOHNSTONS OF ELGIN
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
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
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
ELGIN HIGH STREET
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
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
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.