Are you looking for new or exciting things to fill up your weekends? Moray Speyside is a wonderful region packed with fascinating history, dramatic castles, great family adventures, stunning scenery and unique wildlife.
These suggestions are not just for visitors - if you're lucky enough to call this region home, then these ideas are for you too!
The Moray Coast Trail
Breathe in refreshing salty air and immerse yourself in the dramatic seascapes of the Moray Coast Trail, one of the most beautiful and scenic stretches of coastline in the world. Enjoy a sense of wilderness with dramatic cliffs, stunning sandy beaches, coastal formations and attractive fishing villages.
Beginning in Forres and ending in Cullen, this 72 km route is split into sections, so you can pick a section for a day walk near your home, or tackle the whole route.
Where will you explore?
- Go for a family dinosaur hunt at Hopeman and spot the fossilised footprints of pre-dinosaur reptiles in the exposed sandstone cliffs.
- Bow Fiddle Rock at Portknockie is a well know favourite. It was shaped by the sea from tough quartzite.
- Gaze at the ocean to spot dolphins and whales.
- Rediscover the beautiful little fishing villages dotted along the coastline, with 17th century-built harbours.
- If you're feeling energetic, you could even extend your walk further. The Moray Coast Trail connects with the Speyside Way at Spey Bay, and with the Dava Way at Forres.
Castle to Cathedral to Cashmere Heritage Trail
Rediscover Elgin’s past and present as you explore the historic streets of the town. Dating from the early medieval period, Elgin has been a bustling town for centuries, with stories and history around every corner.
Revisit the site of Elgin’s long-gone castle, which was destroyed in 1308, shortly after the death of William Wallace, and find peace and quiet at majestic Elgin Cathedral which dates from 1224.
Where will you go?
- Elgin Cathedral has been attracting visiting pilgrims since it was founded in 1224. ‘The Lantern of the North’ now stands as one of the most glorious ruins in Scotland.
- Moray Speyside’s most prominent villain was ‘the Wolf of Badenoch’. He famously burnt down Elgin Cathedral in a fit of rage in 1390, after being excommunicated by the Bishop of Moray.
- Spynie Palace is the largest surviving medieval bishop’s house in Scotland and the residence of the bishops of Moray for 500 years.
- Support local businesses at Johnstons of Elgin, which have been creating the finest woollen and cashmere cloth, clothing and accessories since 1797.
Visit this medieval stronghold of the Moray family, one of Scotland’s finest motte and bailey castles.
The now abandoned Duffus Castle is located on top of a mound near Elgin and was a fortress–residence for more than 500 years, from the 1100s to the 1700s. At the time of its construction in 1140, it was one of the most secure fortifications in the country. Mottes were common in Scotland in the 1100s and 1200s, before they were replaced by stone castles. They were early strongholds, usually consisting of a wooden keep on top of an artificial earthwork mound.
Where will you explore?
- Pack a picnic and explore this ruined castle to get a feel for what life was like in the medieval period.
- Give golf a try at scenic Covesea Links nearby. This 9-hole golf course is nestled in a cove right on the coast between Lossiemouth and Hopeman and boasts superb views.
- Head down to Burghead Beach, where you’ll find a beautiful long sandy beach for the wee ones to explore.
- Take a stroll at Cove Bay, with its sandy beach, crystal clear water and fascinating caves.
Gordon Castle Walled Garden
Find an oasis of peace and tranquillity at this stunning 8-acre walled garden, one of Scotland’s best kept secrets in Fochabers. Gordon Castle Walled Garden was lovingly restored to its former glory, with a modern design by world famous designer Arne Maynard. A myriad of herbs, cut flowers, fruit and vegetables are grown within its ancient walls making the garden as beautiful as it is productive.
Where will you go?
- Over 200 years old, Gordon Castle has one of Scotland's largest and oldest walled gardens.
- The garden’s vegetables and herbs are used in the café and products in the shop – including the botanical gin!
- Horticultural highlights include the perfume garden, nectar garden and lavender garden.
- There are 259 espaliered fruit trees including some rare varieties for the keen gardener to admire.
Create your own adventure at Glenlivet Estate and enjoy the freedom that comes from being outside. Explore stunning landscapes and rich wildlife, enjoy exciting scenic trails and outdoor activities and visit some great historic attractions in one of Scotland's most beautiful river valleys.
Moray Speyside is home to a wide variety of habitats and there’s plenty of iconic wildlife to see. Many of Scotland’s favourites are found on the estate, as well as the most endangered species. Keep your eyes peeled for red squirrel and red deer, golden eagle, mountain hare, Scottish wildcat, black grouse, ptarmigan, pine marten and otter.
Where will you explore?
- The Cairngorms National Park is the biggest area of sub-arctic landscape in the British Isles including five of Scotland’s six highest mountains. Which one will you climb first?
- Historically speaking, Glenlivet is in the middle of illicit whisky distilling country where smuggling was rife, so be ready for anything!
- You can enjoy purpose-built mountain bike trails, spectacular scenery and stunning views.
- Explore the estate on foot with many walks, such as the Glenmulliach Nature trail or the Scalan Heritage Trail.
- Go stargazing at the Tomintoul & Glenlivet - Cairngorms Dark Sky Park, the darkest park in the UK and the most northernly Dark Sky Park in the world.
Enjoy a round of golf
If you love golf and are looking for a course that’s a little more off the beaten path for your next round, then Moray Speyside’s enchanting golf courses are worth serious consideration. The rugged Moray Firth coastline and the dramatic mountain scenery provide fantastic links courses and the perfect backdrop for parkland courses.
Some of the world’s most revered course designers decided to make their mark in Moray Speyside.
Where will you golf first?
- The Old Course at Moray Golf Club is considered as one of the finest links courses in Scotland, a superb test of golf with seven par 4s over 400 yards.
- The course at Hopeman Golf Club is arguably one of the most demanding 18-hole links courses in Moray Speyside.
- Forres Golf Course was designed by Open Championship winners James Braid and Willie Park.
- The historic course at Strathlene Buckie Golf Club was founded in 1877 and is one of the oldest golf clubs in the nation.
With so many places to visit across Scotland, will you head to one of your favourites or try somewhere new?
Plan your trip to Moray Speyside now.