The Moray Coast
Shifting shingle shores at Spey Bay, the tidal flats of Findhorn Bay Local Nature Reserve and Lossie river mouth all provide sheltered waters and fast food for a vast array of wildfowl and waders. Between Culbin and Roseisle is one of the largest dune systems in Britain and the estuaries are designated areas because of the bird life.
Burghead with its working harbour and ancient citadel was the capital of the Northern Picts. The nearby dune sandstone ridge was formed when Moray was a red-hot desert.
Lossiemouth, a Victorian spa town and fishing port, once had lead and silver mines. Its harbour is now a marina.
The 18th century salmon-curing factory at Kingston is home to the Spey Bay Wildlife Centre. The firth’s resident bottlenose dolphins are studied from here.
Further east, Buckie was home of the herring fishing fleet.
From Portessie to Logie Head, the shoreline is spectacular and rugged, where the Grampian Mountains meet the sea. Here you can see Portknockie’s “Bowfiddle Rock” arch. Grey seals haul up on the shoreline.
Just inland, is Moray’s capital town Elgin with its Motor Museum and cathedral, The Palace of Spynie, Duffus Castle and Brodie Castle.
The are numerous boat trips available to see the dolphins, other wildlife and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Moray Firth.
For more info - www.moraydolphins.co.uk/boat-trips.html#.VwuupI-cGUk
The Cairngorms National Park
Cardhu Country House is situated just outside the north east boundary of the Cairngorms National Park which is Britains largest national park.
Climbing over the 1000m+ Cairngorm plateau, the highest and most extensive range of arctic mountain landscape anywhere in the British Isles, is an unforgettable experience. Glaciers have gouged deep, high altitude valleys and corries on the plateau; and the altitude and exposure, plus poor soils, produce their own rich eco-system of vegetation, insects and animals. At the foothills of the range is one of the UK’s biggest tracts of natural and largely untouched woodland. They contain fragments of the ancient Caledonian pine forest which is home to a variety of animals, including the rare and protected capercaillie. pine martens, wild cats, ospreys and ptarmigan.
Also to be found is the world’s smallest tree, the tiny least willow, and a variety of wild flowers including the delicate pink twinflower. Heather moorland covers over 40 per cent of the Cairngorms This has produced a patchwork of heather of different ages to provide food and nesting cover for red grouse and other ground nesting birds, and
grazing for livestock and deer.
The water in the rivers Spey, Dee and Don is very pure and these rivers, together with freshwater lochs and marshes, are home to many forms of wildlife.
The Park’s natural heritage is very special indeed but a unique and diverse cultural heritage also adds to the area’s charm. The cultural heritage of the Cairngorms National Park – from castles and mountain bothies to cultural landscapes and the language and folklore – go back thousands of years.
For more info - www.cairngorms.co.uk
Scotland is unique in its castle tradition and the North East has more castles per square mile than any other part of the country. Varying from solid medieval fortresses to fantastic fairy tale towers, many of these castles are open to the public.
Often referred to as Castle Country, the historic Northeast of Scotland is home to around a thousand castles or castle ruins, providing a wealth of history to explore; from gruesome tales of battles fought, to strolls through romantic family estates. Coming in all shapes and sizes, each castle holds a different story to tell.
Aberdeenshire is home to Scotland’s only castle trail; a selection of thirteen unique castles. Experience the romance and history of these restored family castles, ruins and stately homes, by simply following the trail. With its distinctive white on brown signs and a blue castle logo, leads you through the heart of Aberdeenshire.
For more info - www.aberdeen-grampian.com/area-guide/trails/castle-trail.aspx
Just five miles away from the house is Ballindalloch Castle known as the "Pearl of the North". Ballindalloch has been occupied continuously by the MacPherson-Grant family since 1546. It has a fine collection of Spanish paintings and beautiful gardens. For more info - www.ballindallochcastle.co.uk/
Just west of Forres is Brodie Castle, which is set in peaceful parkland and has spectacular springtime display of daffodils. This fine 16th-century tower house is packed with art and antiques. For more info - www.nts.org.uk/Property/Brodie-Castle/
Balvenie Castle, one mile north of Dufftown is now a mighty ruin. A castle of enclosure with a massive 13th century curtain wall. It was abandoned in 1720 and is now in the care of Historic Scotland. For more info - www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/propertyresults/propertyoverview.htm?PropID=PL_027
Other places to visit.
Aberlour - known locally as The Jewel Of Speyside.
Home of Walker's Shortbread (www.walkersshortbread.com/uk/ ) and The Aberlour Distillery (www.aberlour.com/) the village has much to offer visitors. Enjoy a leisurely stroll by the River Spey and watch the skill of the anglers as they court the Salmon and Sea trout.
For children there is a putting green and well equipped playground in the Alice Littler Park. There is an indoor swimming pool at the Speyside Community Centre. Also worth a mention is the art, craft and gift shops and The Spey Larder- a fantastic delicatessen in a restored Victorian shop. For more info - www.speylarder.com/
Brodie Countryfare - three miles from Forres on the Nairn road (A96).
One of the most pleasant shopping experiences in the North of Scotland, combining a blend of quality products with a traditional Scottish welcome. The restaurant has delicious home baking and freshly prepared local foods. For more info - www.brodiecountryfare.com/
Johnsons of Elgin - The Mill in Elgin is the only mill in Scotland to transform cashmere from fibre to finished article. In 2008 a new visitor centre was opened in the beautiful Courtyard setting, adjacent to the Mill Shop. You can find a fantastic range of Johnstons cashmere, lambswool and tweed direct from the mill and there is a bright and airy coffee shop. For more info - www.johnstonscashmere.com/
Baxters Highland Village - Set on the banks of the River Spey, near the small village of Fochabers Take a step back in time and discover the history of the Baxters story in the old grocery shop, originally opened by George Baxter in 1868.
The Baxters Highland Village offers a variety of speciality shops, stocked with a wide range of Baxters and Audrey Baxter range of food products, as well as wines and whiskies, speciality foods, clothing, cookware and gifts. For more info -
For something a bit different why not considering going back in time and tour our beautiful countryside behind the wheel of a classic car. Highland Classic Car Hire specialise in providing classic MG sports cars. Daily and weekly hires are available. For more info - www.classicmghighlandcarhire.co.uk/