Great family adventures at Millbuies

A brilliant place to relax when visiting Moray is the incredibly beautiful Millbuies loch.

Millbuies is a lovely relaxing place for all the family

I often enjoy going for relaxing walks in scenic areas with my wife and son.  The feeling of finding a peaceful spot where you can take in beautiful scenery with your loved ones and feel like you are the only people in the world is unmatched.

We often venture to Millbuies, a fantastic loch surrounded by beautiful trees for family picnics, barbeques, fishing, or just to escape.

The loch has fantastic facilities which make it a great destination for a family day out.  There is a grass area for the kids to play, or for a picnic or a barbeque.

You can take a relaxing stroll around the loch, with your loved ones, kids, friends, or on your own in around an hour.  It is a simple, tranquil walk, with a mostly flat, level path with good surfaces.

Millbuies is the perfect spot for some fly-fishing | Credit: Anne Burgess

The total distance of the route, that takes you all the way around the stunning loch and back to where you started, is around 1.5 miles.  The circular path allows you to take in so much beautiful scenery, never retracing your steps.

We have had many great strolls and fantastic picnics at Millbuies, soaking in the scenery and enjoying each other’s company, far away from the hardships of everyday life.

Millbuies is not short of fantastic wildlife either, with red squirrels, roe deer, badgers and rabbits hiding in the trees.  If you are really lucky and quiet you might also see pine martin hidden among the rhododendrons and trees.  There is also often exquisite looking dragonflies fluttering through the sky.

On the loch itself you might see mallards, tufted ducks, moorhens and swans enjoying a leisurely paddle.  Meanwhile, underneath the surface of the loch there is a large amount of rainbow trout, blue trout and brown trout swimming around, making it the perfect spot to hire a boat and go fly-fishing.

There is lots of beautiful wildlife at Millbuies, including this lovely duck having a paddle

There are five boats available for hire at Millbuies, making booking in advance essential (by calling 079601434983) as there is no bank fishing allowed on the loch.

With 16 acres of loch to fish in, no one is ever stepping on anyone’s toes, or getting in anyone’s way, making it an even more relaxing and enjoyable experience.

Millbuies Loch was created by the damming of streams to provide angling facilities on the loch.  It was taken over by Moray Council in 1975 and the fishing was extended to members of the public.

This beautiful and tranquil loch can be found only a 20 minute drive from your stay at Carden Cottages.  There is even a free car park for you to leave your car behind and enjoy being immersed in nature!

Please follow and like us:

Relax and Unwind at Elgin Biblical Garden

Elgin Biblical Garden is a beautiful, serene escape from the busy trials and tribulations of everyday life.

 

The Biblical Garden is a beautiful hidden gem in Elgin | Credit: Karen Bryan

The Garden sits between the medieval Elgin Cathedral and Cooper Park – a gift to Elgin from Colonel George A. Cooper in 1903.  It makes for a beautiful retreat from life, with 110 plants with Biblical references creating a delightfully vibrant landscape.

Although the garden is Biblical, you don’t have to have an interest in the Bible to appreciate the beauty and peacefulness of these glorious trees and flowers on a beautiful sunny day.  It is a fabulous place to relax and unwind and forget about the world for a few moments.

You can let your troubles and worries drift away as you take in the beautiful views, including a spectacular range of shrubs, herbaceous plants and trees such as Cercidiphyllum japonica and Liquidambar styraciflua.

Brightly coloured plants light up the Biblical Garden in Elgin | Credit: Biblical Garden

It is also the perfect spot to sit down for a nice relaxing picnic – on your own or with family, friends and loved ones.

If you are interested in learning more about the Bible, there are lovely statues situated throughout the garden.  There are also very interesting information boards located in various parts of the Biblical Garden.

The Biblical Garden has been open over 20 years now, opening in June 1996.  It was made possible by donations from local businesses, Churches, schools and organisations.  There was a lot of community involvement in its creation, with local schools making the fantastic mosaics which can be seen on the wall by the entrance.

Fantastic Mosaics at the entrance of the Biblical Garden | Credit: Biblical Garden

The garden has been very successful in attracting visitors from all over, and this success is owed to the hard work and partnership among the Friends of the Biblical Garden, Moray Council and Moray College UHI.  It is the perfect example of the community spirit that you will witness on your visit to the Moray Area.

The Biblical Garden is just one of many beautiful and tranquil landscapes in the Moray area, with a beautiful pond even sitting just a short walk away from Carden Cottages.  You will never be short of beautiful scenery and relaxing spots on your visit to Carden.

It is open to the public daily from May to September and is free to enter, but there is a donations box if you feel like leaving one.  You can drive to the Biblical Garden from Carden Cottages in under 15 minutes.  You could combine this trip with a visit to Elgin Cathedral, which is just across the road.

Please follow and like us:

The real life story of Macbeth in Moray

Shakespeare’s tale of Macbeth is well known around the world, but the real story of the Scottish King is far lesser known.

There are may local legends regarding Macbeth in Moray and Inverness | Credit: Biography

Shakespeare mixed fact and fiction when creating his tale of Macbeth, drawing on the exciting real life tales of Macbeth and Duncan I of Scotland.  The Scottish King had many links to the Moray and Inverness areas, with many sites having at least a local legend regarding Macbeth.

Macbeth and Inverness

The son of Duncan I may have built his castle where the current Inverness Castle now stands, after he defeated Macbeth | Credit: Dave Conner

In The Bard’s play, Inverness was the home of Macbeth’s castle, where King Duncan I is killed in the play.  In the real world, Macbeth’s father, resided in the city, but not in the currently standing Inverness Castle.

Macbeth’s father most likely resided in a hill fort located at Auldcastle, now known as Auldcastle Road.  It is said that Malcolm Canmore, son of Duncan I, destroyed this fort after he defeated Macbeth.  He then built a new castle on the site of the current Inverness Castle.

The real death of Duncan I of Scotland

Duncan I of Scotland’s death happened very differently in real life | Credit: Wikimedia

As for the death of Duncan I of Scotland, he certainly wasn’t murdered in his sleep.  Donchad mc Crinian is depicted in Shakespeare’s Macbeth as an elderly king who was killed in his sleep by the play’s main character.  In real life, the actually rather young king lived until the age of 39, where he was killed in battle against Macbeth’s men in what is now known as Pitgavney, near Elgin in Moray.

Macbeth & Forres

Sueno’s Stone may have been a rallying point for the real life Macbeth and his troops | Credit: Kim Traynor

In Macbeth, Duncan’s castle is said to be in Forres, and the iconic scene when the Three Witches gather to predict the rise and downfall of Macbeth is set upon a hill nearby the ancient Scottish town.

It is also said that Sueno’s Stone, a 20ft Pictish cenotaph in Forres, might have been a rallying point for the real life Macbeth and his troops before they marched east to stop Duncan’s invasion.  The true meaning of Sueno’s Stone and its engravings remain a mystery to this day.

Macbeth’s Hillock

Macbeth’s Hillock in Forres is said to be the grassy mound upon which Macbeth and Banquo met the Weird Sisters | Credit: Wikimedia

According to local folklore, Macbeth’s Hillock is the “blasted heath” where the protagonist and Banquo meet the “Weird Sisters” and hear their prophecy that Macbeth is destined to be king.  This grassy mound is within walking distance of Brodie Castle, and I would definitely recommend you have a look at all the great historic artefacts inside the castle before taking the short walk to the hill. 

Carden Cottages is the perfect base for history and literature fans to explore the many sites in the Moray area related to Macbeth.  Our luxury cottages are just around an hour drive to Inverness, only a 15 minute drive from Pitgavney, a 20 minute drive to Brodie Castle – which is in walking distance of Macbeth’s Hillock and just over a 10 minute drive to Sueno’s Stone.

For more information about Macbeth and his real and fictional life and relation to different areas in Scotland, I thoroughly recommend checking out Visit Scotland’s Guide.

Please follow and like us:

Moray Walking festival showcases the great walks in the area

The Moray Walking Festival is returning for another year from Friday 14th June to Sunday 23rd June – but Moray’s great walks are here all year round.

The festival allows you to explore and discover Moray’s natural, historical and cultural landscapes.  With all sorts of activities including: walking, cycling, white water rafting, health walks, heritage events, bushcraft and more – there is something for everyone at Moray Walking Festival.

The main aim of the festival is to allow you to explore the stunning scenery that Moray has to offer.  Whether you opt for a gentle stroll or a challenging hike, the beautiful surroundings will help you on your way.

Prices vary based on individual events, information and tickets can be found on The Moray Way website.

If you can’t make it in time for the festival, don’t fret!  Incredible walking trails can be found in the Moray area all year round.  There are plenty to choose from, including coastal walks, hill climbing and woodland adventures.

In fact, there are many walking trails that are right on the doorstep of Carden Cottages that will help you explore the area.

Quarrelwood Ancestors Trail – 2.5 miles – 1 hour 30 minutes estimated walking time

The Ancestor’s trail is a woodland walk of around 2.5 miles, with a few short steep sections and various surfaces.  The beautiful woods was used in the Neolithic era for ceremonial purposes because of the Henge, where pottery and a Bronze Age axe mould were found.

Some fantastic wildlife can be found in this area, including roe deer, red squirrels and a large variety of bird life.

Millbuies Loch Trail – 1.5 miles – 1 hour estimated walking time

The beautiful loch, created by the damming of streams to provide angling facilities on the loch, makes for a beautiful, leisurely walk with picturesque views.  It is a generally flat and easy trail, with a distance of less than two miles.

The area also provides plenty activities, including a grass area for play with picnic tables and barbecue points.  Red squirrels, roe deer, badgers, rabbits and pine martins can also be spotted at Millbuies.

Brodie Castle Path – 2.5 miles – 1 hour 30 minutes estimated walking time

The Brodie Castle Trail is made up of many beautiful paths offering a wide variety of scenic and historic features along the way.

The paths around the pond and the woodland paths are suitable for wheelchairs and mobility scooters, however the rough paths and slopes of the walk make it unsuitable for wheelchairs and buggies.

Culbin Forest (Route 99) – less than 2 miles – 2 hours estimated walking time

Located between the coastal sand dunes of Findhorn Bay and Nairn, this walk route has a wide network of paths, including the “all abilities trail”, known as Route 99.

This route winds through forest and mossy clearings, up hill 99, and offers a “squirrels-eye” viewpoint that makes the walk worth it.

River Findhorn – 8 miles – 5 hours estimated walking time

This circular walk through and around the town of Forres follows the banks of River Findhorn and showcases some of the less frequented beautiful countryside spots of the town.

With a 5 hours estimated walking time, this long, but relatively level, route allows you to take in some fantastic scenery along the way.

Clarkly Hill – 3.5 miles – 1 hour 45 minutes estimated walking time

A circular route beginning in the Pictish Fort town of Burghead, passing through farmland and Rocky shores.  This route offers spectacular views of the Moray Firth along the ridge of Clarkly Hill.

The route is generally level, with a gentle slope rising from the Burghead – Lossiemouth Road to Clarkly Hill.

The Moray Way – 95 miles – 6 to 9 days estimated walking time

Linking existing walking routes to form a circuit of 95 miles, The Moray Way can be walked comfortably in six to nine days.  The long route encompassed a wide variety of Scotland’s scenery into one walk including: beaches, clifftops, wide straths, farmlands, forests, open moorland and mountains.

The Moray Ways website has more information about fantastic walks in the area.

The route is circular and can be started from many points.  I would recommend starting from Forres when staying at Carden Cottages.

Walkers can experience history, beautiful scenery and interesting wildlife on this trail.

All of these walks are right on the doorstep of Carden.  With different routes to match different abilities it would be near impossible not to find a trail that suits you.

After your long relaxing walk, you can unwind in the comfort of your luxury cottage at Carden.

 

Please follow and like us:

Delicious lunch at The Peppermill, Forres

Last week for a Friday treat I decided to pay a visit to another of my favourite Forres spots, The Peppermill.

The Peppermill Forres from High Street
The Peppermill in Forres is a popular café and restaurant, serving delicious food | Credit: The Peppermill

I was on Forres High Street when I decided to nip in for a spot of light lunch.  I was seated straight away by the window, which gave me a great view of all the goings on of the High Street.

There were lots of excellent choices on the lunch menu – from soup to battered Buckie haddock.  I opted for the Cajun chicken and mayonnaise baguette with a side of lovely homemade chips.

The service was speedy and before I knew it I had a beautifully delicious baguette in front of me.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the baguette was much bigger than I expected.  The chicken was perfectly cooked, the sauce was deliciously creamy, and the bread was just the right balance between soft in the middle and crisp on the outside.

Chicken tikka and mayonnaise baguette from The Peppermill Forres
My chicken tikka and mayonnaise baguette with salad and homemade chips made for a delicious lunch

Although I love my coffee, Friday was a nice warm day and I fancied something refreshing to drink.  I asked for an orange Fanta, however this is something they don’t serve at the Peppermill.  The lovely waitress offered to make me up some orange juice with lemonade which I gladly accepted.  Her kindness and helpfulness made the whole experience that bit better.

In a very out of character move I didn’t have any cake to finish off my lunch at The Peppermill – but the restaurant does offer delightful home bakes such as caramel slices, scones and tiffin.

The café and restaurant has a great cosy feel and the amount of people coming in and even ordering food to go showed just how popular it is.  I would recommend reserving a table at The Peppermill when you decide to pay it a visit as it does get very busy.

The scrumptious generous portions of food also come at great value for money.  It cost me just around £8 for my huge baguette, large portion of hand cut chips, salad and large drink.

For more information on The Peppermill, check out there Facebook page where they post pictures of their delicious food and baked goods.

The Peppermill can be found on Forres High Street, a short 15 minute drive from Carden Cottages.

Please follow and like us:

Great food and drink at the Drouthy Cobbler

Whether you’re looking for tasty food, great drink or fantastic live music, the Drouthy Cobbler in Elgin has it all.

The Drouthy Cobbler is offers outdoor seating for alfresco dining | Credit: Tobi

The contemporary bar is nestled down a medieval close in the heart of Elgin, with a covered and heated outdoor seating area for alfresco dining.

I popped into the bar with a couple of friends for a spot of late lunch and a few afternoon drinks – and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely.

We opted to take advantage of the bar bites deal, choosing a few dishes to share around the table.  Between us we managed to polish off haggis bites, crispy chicken wings, sausage rolls, Scottish scampi and hand-cut chips.  We also had a few delicious beers and gin and tonics!

The food that we had was absolutely delicious – well above the standard you would expect for such a low price.  My favourite was the delicious haggis bites – a must try, especially if you are visiting Scotland for the first time.

If you don’t fancy sharing a few bar bites, the bar also serves meals at an excellent price of £23.95 for three courses or £19.95 for two courses.  The tasty food is also locally sourced, as the Drouthy try to source the best Scottish ingredients from independent butchers, farmers and veg growers.

My favourite part of our experience was the great bar, which boasts over 150 whiskies, natural wines, craft gins and local beers.  We certainly took the opportunity to sample as many different beers and gins as we could!  It is the perfect place to sample both Scottish drinks and foods.

Drouthy Cobbler bar Elgin
The Drouthy Cobbler bar offers over 100 malt whiskies | Credit: Tobi

If that isn’t enough for you, the Drouthy Cobbler also has live music during some evenings and some afternoons, making it great for a lively evening out.  The venue also has regular arts events, including a monthly comedy club, lunchtime theatre and trad music concerts.

The excellent food, drink and events are also all offered with a smile from the lovely staff, who are full of knowledge about the different drinks that are on offer.

It really is a great place to relax and enjoy some great food and drink in a friendly atmosphere.  It is an excellent place to stop by if you are exploring nearby sites in Elgin; such as Elgin Cathedral.

It is also a 10 minute drive from your stay at Carden Cottages.

Please follow and like us:

A historic day out at Elgin Cathedral

I recently revisited the beautiful Elgin Cathedral, also known as the Lantern of the North, taking in all it has to offer; the ruins, its two towers, the Chapter House and the beautiful views that surround the historic site.

Elgin cathedral West front from inside cathedral
The West front of Elgin Cathedral remains intact today, despite its rich history

The Cathedral has been part of Elgin’s history for decades, with its creation spanning back to 1224, when it was established as the principal church of the bishops of Moray.

With one trip to Elgin’s majestic ruin you can learn all about its rich and exciting history.  For example, it was left badly fire damaged from 1390 following an attack by King Robert III’s brother Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, the infamous “Wolf of Badenoch”.  Despite this attack, the two towers of the West Front and the Chapter House remain intact to this day, and are open to the public.

19th century depiction of buning of elgin cathedral
19th Century depiction of Elgin Cathedral blaze, caused by the infamous Wolf of Badenoch

If the history of the site does not appeal to you, then the views will certainly make up for it.  You are rewarded for your climbing efforts with magnificent views over Elgin, with the top of the tower having an open viewing platform, as well as information boards to help you learn more about all of the fantastic landmarks that you can see.

When you tire of looking over the town’s glorious sites, you can head into the chapter house, which is considered to be one of the country’s “finest octagonal structures” – and it is easy to see why.  If you look close enough at the ceiling, you might just be able to make out faint traces of gold paint.

The Cathedral also offers guided tours; run daily from July through to August at: 10am, 2pm and 3:30pm, the latter tour being for the Bishop’s house only, and must be booked in advance.  If you’d like more information on the tours you can visit: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/elgin-cathedral/  or call 01343 547 171.

I would also recommend the fact-finding quiz, created by historic environment Scotland, which also comes in Doric, to make your adventure more fun.  You could also try their sculptures and symbols spotter and graveyard count quizzes.

Bishop's house at Elgin Cathedral
You can book a guided tour of the historic Bishop’s House at Elgin Cahedral During the Summer | Credit: Colin Smith

The Cathedral is only a 15 minute drive from your cottage at Carden.  If you look carefully, as you drive into Elgin from Carden Cottages, opposite Dr. Gray’s hospital you will be able to see blocks that were taken from the Cathedral and used in the building of the garden walls and houses there.  So you don’t have to wait until you get there to start taking in the culture.

When you tire from soaking up all the history, there are plenty surrounding coffee shops with great hot drinks and tasty cake to help aid your recovery, like Johnston’s of Elgin, which is about a 10 minute walk away.

Please follow and like us:

Fashion, history and great cake at Johnston’s of Elgin

If you are venturing to Moray in order to take in the culture, the fashion, or to enjoy good food, there is one place in the North East of Scotland that combines all of these aspects into an unforgettable experience.

On the outskirts of Elgin lies ‘Johnston’s of Elgin’, a 220-year-old woollen mill that has plenty to offer in terms of high end clothing and homeware, Scottish culture and delicious food.

Johnston's of Elgin mill visitor centre
Johnston’s of Elgin offers a rich history, great fashion and fantastic cakes | Credit: Visit Scotland

Although the mill is hundreds of years old – it appears to be currently basking in the prime of its life.  The mill was originally established on the banks of the River Lossie over two centuries ago by Alexander Johnston.  The company has since expanded massively – producing quality fabrics and textiles that have allowed them to be awarded the Royal Warrant of Appointments as Manufacturers of Estate Tweed H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, Duke of Rothesay.

The shop boasts high end fashion for everyone with their range covering menswear, womenswear, children’s wear, accessories and homeware.  I love their fabric so much that, thanks to my lovely wife, it has become part of the furniture at Carden cottages – with our lovely chairs in The Barn cottage upholstered with Johnston’s tweed.

Chairs at Carden Cottages upholstered with Johnston's of Elgin fabric
Our gorgeous chairs in The Barn, Carden Cottages, upholstered with beautiful fabric from Johnston’s of Elgin

Although the mill as a whole is quite an excellent visit, the coffee shop is my personal favourite, drawing me back time and time again to sample the fine food and drink.  It boasts a wide range of breakfast, lunch and afternoon teas – with some of the tastiest coffee and cakes in the Moray area!

If you’re looking to sample some great local cuisine, Johnston’s can certainly oblige.  They aim to have at least 40% of their menu made using only the finest local produce, which has led to them winning a “Taste Our Best” accreditation from Visit Scotland.  So you don’t have to just take my word for it.  The hot salmon salad is particularly tasty – but there is plenty to choose from!

Cakes and desserts at Johnston's of Elgin coffee shop
Just a few of the delicious cake offerings from Johnston’s of Elgin’s coffee shop | Credit: Tripadvisor User Mummy2414

You can also take a tour and learn all about the rich history of the fabric empire and local culture.  It’s not just for food and fashion lovers.

Johnston’s also strive to be eco-friendly – aiming to increase energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions and waste, by implementing new technologies and by instituting best practice within the company.  Therefore, this is the perfect place to visit when staying at our green cottages.

On top of all this, the staff at Johnston’s really go the extra mile to make you feel warm and welcome.  They are friendly, cheery and always on hand to deal with any problem you have – not that you should expect to have many here!

The mill provides free guided tours every day, between 10am to 3pm Monday to Friday and 11am to 2pm on Saturday and Sunday.  For more information, or to book, visit their website at: https://www.johnstonsofelgin.com/retail/mill-tour/ or email milltours@johnstonsofelgin.com

Fashion expert, foodie, history buff or cakeaholic – there is something for everyone at Johnston’s of Elgin.

Best of all – you can find all of this just a 10 minute drive from Carden Cottages.

Please follow and like us: