Scotland’s Sunshine Coast

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Scotland’s Sunshine Coast

So where exactly is Scotland’s sunshine coast? It’s a bold claim! You thought it was never sunny here?

It’s simple. Mostly Scotland’s prevailing winds come from the south-west, off the Atlantic. So-o, what area lies beyond, to the north-east of the mountains, notably the Cairngorms, making it sheltered, drier and sunnier than the average? Answer: Moray.

Coastal Moray Is Scotland’s Sunshine Coast

Admittedly, bits of East Lothian and also stretches of Fife (both, note on Scotland’s east side) are fairly dry too, though nearer major centres of population and thus more crowded.

But Moray? ‘Up there’ on the shore of the Moray Firth. Well, it’s pretty unspoilt, down by the sea. And dry.

The little resort town of Lossiemouth, for instance, has 672.7mm of rain per year. (That’s 26.5 inches in old money.) Average for the whole of Scotland is 1571mm (61.8 inches). The Met Office says so.

May has gone and the gorse is out. It smells of coconut. Above the gentle splash of the tide, you can hear the squeaky-scratchy song of whitethroats. Pink thrift is in flower underfoot and there’s some crowberry too (which a friend says ‘smells of mountains’).

Lyrical, eh? Anyway, there’s more. You’ve got the path to yourself. You’ve nailed the place to get morning coffee…or, no, make that lunch…maybe try our local fish soup called Cullen skink. (One of the best places to eat it is The Cullen Bay Hotel, two miles from  Findochty).

Now, would you really want to be away in the far west of Scotland on a warm and sunshiny day like that – BEING EATEN ALIVE BY MIDGES? Your call.

For further great articles must-see-scotland.com

Colours of Cluny – A resounding success

Richard Lochhead MSP, visited what has quickly become the North’s IMAG0511most visited tourism event, Colours of Cluny on Friday. He met with members from Forres Features Community Interest Company, who have organised the event to congratulate them on their success in this, their first year of the event.

Richard was met by Graham Murdoch, chairman of Forres Features, who guided the MSP and his family around the sound and light spectacular which has now been enjoyed by over 10,000 people. Colours of Cluny, the first event of its kind in Moray, is a non-profit organisation formed by the local community and is designed to attract both tourists and locals to enjoy the natural surroundings in a new and exciting way.

Graham Murdoch, Chairman of Forres Features Community Interest Company, commented:

“We were delighted to welcome local MSP Richard, his wife Fiona and their two young children to the experience this truly magical show, which showcases the beautiful surroundings here in Forres in a completely different way.

Graham continued:

“Being so far North, we often miss out on the chance to attend some of the events in Scotland so we wanted to give people the chance to experience something special using the beautiful surroundings we have here in Forres. IMAG0516With over 10,000 tickets sold, Colours of Cluny has become one the biggest tourist events in the North of Scotland and we’re delighted to talk Richard Lochhead through this fantastic project we’re incredibly proud of.”

Richard Lochhead commented:

“Events like Colours of Cluny have the potential to shine a spotlight on Forres and I have been extremely impressed at what the community have achieved this year by working together and attracting over 10,000 visitors to the area. It is a fine example of community drive, Moray’s magnificent landscape and a creative vision. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, as did my family, and I look forward to returning in 2017.”

Organisers worked with some of the creative team behind the multi-award winning Enchanted Forest to create a unique event set to showcase the natural beauty of the towns Grant Park, Cluny Hill and Nelson’s Tower in a whole new, very colourful light. The event has had a very positive economic effect on local restaurants, hotels and accommodation providers which organisers say is all part of the aim behind this project.

Plans are already being made to ensure that Colours of Cluny 2017 is an even greater spectacular. Don’t miss it!IMAG0512

(thanks to http://www.coloursofcluny.com/news/ )

A great day out at Burghead

Debs and I enjoyed a smashing few hours yesterday just wandering around the harbour and IMAG0522
shoreline of the pictish village of Burghead.

Some of the tiniest fishing boats we had ever seen had just started unloading their catch of fresh prawns and langoustines and with the gulls crying overhead and an old seal ‘barking’ alongside the boats, it was as pretty as a picture.

Yes the skies were all steel coloured and yes the temp was a bit brisk, but really we didn’t notice too much as we scrambled up the cliff steps and of course there is always a welcoming hot chocolate waiting in the Bothy if things get too chilly.

If you have an hour or two to spare and don’t know what to do with it, pop your coat on, get your scarf out and make your way to Burghead. I guarantee you will feel so much better than sitting in the house watching some rubbish American sitcom or chat show.

 

Events 2017

What’s being planned for 2017

Scottish Orienteering Championships Saturday 18 Feb – Forres – Scottish Night Championships – Level C
Sunday 19th Feb – Lossiemouth – Scottish Sprint Championships – Level C
This fantastic sport is suitable for all ages and fitness levels and events will usually have courses suitable for families when the events take place in local parks, green spaces and forested areas that have suitable paths for family groups. As you can take part at your own pace our unique sport is suitable for all including toddlers, pensioners and the disabled. Special thanks to Andy Bary for the video.The Moray Walking and Outdoor Festival takes place Friday 16 June to Sunday 25 June 2017. Scotland’s Midsummer Walking Festival will have walks, events and activities for all ages and abilities. Let the Moray Walking and Outdoor Festival take you on an adventure. Enjoy long Midsummer days exploring Moray’s world renowned golden coasts, hills and forests full of hidden fauna and flora, whisky coloured rivers and towns with stories to tell and culture to experience.There’s something for everyone – guided walks, talks and events along side outdoor activities, walking challenges and endurance races!

The European Pipe Band Championships 2017, will be held on 24th June 2017, involving thousands of pipers and drummers  from far and wide. With pipe band and drum majors competing across a number of grades in four arenas there will be an stunning spectacle of colour as well as amazing playing!  Special thanks to ‘rennieaj’ for this great video.

Forres Highland Games will take place on Saturday 8th July in Grant Park, Forres.
Traditional Highland Games with massed Pipe Bands, Tug o’ War, Heavy events, Solo Piping, Athletics, Highland dancing Grass Cycling, a road Race and Pipe band competition.

Whisky Trail – the sweet smell of success

Discover Moray Speyside – Whisky Trail

Anyone who has ever visited Scotland couldn’t fail but to be impressed by the soaring mountains, windswept moorlands, white crystal sands and clear deep azure seas. But of all the regions, Moray Speyside must stand out, but not for our landscapes, our beaches or our Glens, but for our Whisky, Uisge-Beatha – the water of life. Here in Moray Speyside we have more distilleries than any other region of not only Scotland, but the world.

The Malt Whisky Trail is so much more than just a tour around distilleries as it encompasses much of what makes this region so special, our culture.

On the trail you get the chance to not only see where these rich whiskies are made, but also get the chance to meet and talk with many of the craftsmen and women who make it. Their knowledge of whisky making is unsurpassable and yet, they convey it to the layman in simple, passionate tones. 

In order that you can enjoy your visit to the distilleries in absolute style, Debbie and I would be very happy to arrange a Classic Car and driver and even a picnic hamper for the day.  This will allow you to sit back and enjoy the real experience with a wee dram or two as you travel.

 

High praise indeed

We’re so please to announce that in addition to our Gold ‘Eco-tourism award’ and our Visit Scotland ‘Four Stars’, this year we have also achieved a Booking.com review score of 9.2which is much better than many four star hotels achieve.

Now we have our sites firmly set on 9.5 and if you have any suggestions to make that could help us improve what we offer, Debs and I would love to hear them.

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Walking & Cycling in Moray

Over the last year or so we have been quite surprised at just how many of our guests are wishing they had brought their cycles with them. I suppose it could be the miles of forest tracks, the rugged hill trails or perhaps just the very quiet country lanes that abound in this area.

Whatever the reason, Debbie and I would like to ensure that all you cyclists or budding cyclist don’t miss out. With that in mind we have just taken receipt of our very own secure bike store which we have located in our car park alongside the cottages.

In addition, we’re collecting together copies of all the cycle trails across Moray we can find so that you don’t need to. We have also had a word with our friends from  Bike Revolution who have said they would be very happy to rent you all the bikes and equipment you may need to enjoy a great day out  cycling.

But if you enjoy ‘routing out’ (excuse the pun) your own trails then you could start by checking out Morayways who excel in the information on walks and cycle trails they provide

Local award winning artist’s work dons the walls at Carden

I’ve had a great day today as I managed to spend a few hours framing and hanging jw3 copya range of beautiful artworks at Carden produced by local artist Jonathan Wheeler.

Debbie and I have long admired Jonathan’s work and promised ourselves that as we continued to refurbish our lovely cottages, we would bring in some of his work.

Now, in their new frames, they look great hanging in the cottages and really set off the new paint works and furnishings.

 

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Jonathan has made a full-time profession of his very vivid style of art, constantly
finding new ways to express his passion for the beauty of the Highlands and its architectural heritage through his chosen medium of watercolour. He is also known for his vibrant still life and figure paintings.”

Here’s a snapshot of his work – but if you would like to see more, check out his website http://www.soulofscotland.co.uk/index.html

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A Special Christmas Welcome for you

Don’t stress out at Christmas time.

If you’re planning on visiting family or friends in Moray this Christmas we’d like to suggest that rather than squeeze into somewhere that’s a little tight, or end up sleeping on that old ‘pull out’ bed in the lounge, you come to Carden and spend the festive season here.  

We have lots of space to invite all your friends around and our beds are some of the most comfortable in the area.
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Breakfast at The Captains Table, Findhorn

As the sun shone over the incoming waters spreading out across the golden sands of Findhorn Bay, Debbie and I arrived to find that the road leading up the Marina and the cafe is now more like a series of sink holes, some of which spread out across the entire width of the carriageway. These last few hundred yards are not for the faint hearted and if I wasn’t driving a four wheel drive that sits high off the ground, I would have turned away at this point.

Findhorn Marina
Findhorn Marina – (photo unknown)

Nevertheless we pushed through the holes and arrived at the carpark located at the back of the cafe where we  were met with tall steel fences and peeling paint. Not letting this put us off we walked around to the front of the building to be confronted with what must be one of the finest views anywhere in the Moray Speyside area. Before us the boats in the tiny harbour were bobbing on the incoming tide whilst across the shimmering waters the cool green of the Culbin Forest provided a soft contrast to the brilliant sunlight. Overhead the odd cloud drifted in front of the sun but did little to reduce the warm breeze that blew gently onto our faces. I had to remind myself that we were not here to write a travelogue but to check out what we had been told was a great Scottish Breakfast.

Inside, the cafe itself, simple and sweet, sits within a marine chandlers shop which in itself adds to the feeling of ‘being by the sea’. The menue is good wholesome food ranging from light snacks through to luncheons and dinners. Added to their normal range of teas, coffee and soft drinks, The Captain’s Table now offers wines, beers and even a spirit or two to add to the experience.

There it was, simple, clear and very well priced at £8.50 the ‘Full Scottish Breakfast’, comprising of sausage, bacon, eggs, black pudding, haggis, hash browns, grilled tomatoes and baked beans all topped off with brown or white bread. A veritable feast for a hungry soul. After ordering they were delivered in only a few minutes to our table outside overlooking the bay. It all looked as good as it smelled and if it tasted that good, I would be a very happy man.

I won’t bore you with how fresh the bacon was or the deep meaty flavour of the sausage.

Findhorn Bay Marina
A smashing breakfast – Findhorn Bay Marina

I wont mention the rich tasting yolk to the perfectly fried egg or the copious amounts of coffee I drank with it. I’ll just say that I really enjoyed it a lot. It wasn’t the best breakfast I have ever eaten, but it was quite close and I felt happy to award it 8 out of 10.

As a vegetarian, Debbie had requested the vegie option which I think she enjoyed almost as much as I did mine.

If you’re planning a trip to The Captain’s Table, don’t let the potholed road or the unwelcome car park put you off. The cafe itself is a real little treasure, the staff are super friendly and helpful and the breakfasts are definitely worth the journey.

The Captain’s Table, Findhorn Marina   8/10