Travellers Guide to Moray and Speyside
From New Jersey to Germany, Indiana to Barcelona and Brazil – we are looking forward to welcoming lots of overseas visitors coming to the 2018 Highland Games and Country Fair. We love our multi-cultural audience and relish the opportunity to meet some new faces and show them our amazing country! But as with any holiday, it’s sometimes hard to know where to stay, what to do and where to eat. So, from a local to you, we’ve come up with this little guide of Moray and Speyside so that you can make the most of your visit.
To begin, where is Moray?
History of the area
As with much of Scotland, the Moray Speyside region has a long-standing and equally colourful history. Gordon Castle itself played an important role in Moray’s history – including the whisky industry we know and love today.
The Gordon Estates once stretched from Deeside to Speyside, encompassing lands and rivers where many of the most famous Scottish malt whisky distilleries are still to be found. It was the intervention of the 5th Duke of Gordon that first led to the legalisation of whisky distilling in the Highlands of Scotland. He informed Parliament that his tenants in Strathavon and Glenlivet could not be prevented from distilling whisky illicitly, so why not legalise the activity and collect the taxes? Demonstrating a keen eye for business, when the subsequent Act of Parliament was passed in 1823, the 5th Duke immediately encouraged one of his tenants, George Smith, to take advantage of the new law and establish a ‘legal’ whisky still. George Smith started the first ever licensed distillery in Glenlivet in 1824 and in 1858 the 5th Duke provided George Smith with the land on which the present day Glenlivet distillery is sited. Discover more about Gordon Castle’s history.
Where to stay
On the Gordon Castle Estate we do have holiday cottages but these are all fully booked for this year’s games. There are lots of superb accommodation providers on our doorstep so why not try one of the following:
Trochelhill B&B (Fochabers)
The Craigellachie Hotel (Craigellachie)
The Station Hotel (Rothes)
The Dowans (Aberlour)
The Mash Tun (Aberlour)
What to do
When you’re not at the Highland Games and Country Fair on 20th May, you MUST take some time to explore the local area. Let’s start with one very close to home…
Distillery tour – with over 50 distilleries in the Speyside region alone, it’s well worth taking some time out to visit one or two. From Glen Moray, to Chivas, Glenfiddich to Glenlivet – all tastes are catered to!
Elgin Cathedral is one of Scotland’s most beautiful medieval buildings, dating back to the 13th century. Elgin Cathedral has a rich history – it was badly fire damaged in 1390 following an attack by Robert III’s brother Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, who was also known as the ‘Wolf of Badenoch’. The two towers of the West Front and the Chapter House are intact and open to the public and the climb is rewarded with magnificent views of the town of Elgin.Discover now.
WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre – The WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre is situated at the mouth of the River Spey and is a haven for wildlife including bottlenose dolphins, osprey, grey and common seals, the occasional otter and many coastal birds. The Centre is based in an 18th Century salmon fishing station and has a fascinating history.
Where to eat and drink
Gordon Castle Walled Garden Cafe – just one mile from the Castle, it’s perfect for a light bite or main meal straight from the garden
Craigellachie Hotel – our friends at the Craigellachie know how to throw a good party and are very popular for live music and good food
Drouthy Cobbler – situated in the heart of Elgin, this little gem is perfect for an intimate gin and tonic
Baxters – a must visit for any pancake lovers!
Christies – our friends at Christies of Fochabers run a superb cafe offering lite bites and coffee for all
Duffus Inn – just outside of Elgin, this little beauty is well worth the travel
There are so many amazing places to eat in this region so discover more places here.
Something we didn’t cover?
Do you live locally and want to highlight something worth visiting?
Use the hashtag #visitmoray18 and we’ll be sure to share.
The charming Morayshire village of Fochabers lies close to the River Spey midway between Aberdeen and Inverness. The village once stood within the grounds of Gordon Castle: that was until 1776 when the bombastic 4th Duke had the whole village re-sited to its present position. Today Fochabers has lots to offer visitors with attractive shops selling local arts and crafts, friendly pubs and restaurants offering a range of local cuisines and a number of small hotels and B&Bs providing comfortable accommodation.
The coast of the Moray Firth, listed by National Geographic amongst the top ten coastal destinations in the world, with its picturesque harbours, miles of deserted sandy beaches and delightful rugged shoreline is only five miles away. Beautiful walks are to be had along the River Spey and there are superb mountain bike trails close by. Nearby Spey Bay is home to one of Great Britain’s most important scientific sites for observing wales and dolphins and designated a special area of conservation by the European Union.
The world famous Baxters’ Factory and Visitor Centre lies just across the River Spey. Christies Garden Centre, with its new Play Garden, is sited at the Southern end of the village. Fochabers has an interesting Folk Museum and Heritage Centre which includes a lot of historical information about Gordon Castle and recently held a display of artefacts telling of the Castle’s role as a military hospital during the Great War.
For more information about Fochabers and the surrounding Speyside Moray region please visit www.morayspeyside.com