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.

 

Tranquil Getaway at Roseisle

Roseisle beach, burghead, Moray, Scotland
The beach at Roseisle is the perfect place to relax and unwind

Moray is known for its beautiful coastal villages and incredible walking trails, but one of the most beautiful spots for relaxing has to be Roseisle beach.

Situated between Findhorn and Burghead, the beautiful sandy beach offers brilliant views of the seaside village and town to each side.

Due to its brilliant location, clear waters and clean sandy shores, Roseisle is always busy – but it amazingly never seems to get crowded.  This is probably because of its extensive size, which means you don’t have to walk very far to be in peaceful solitude.

The privacy that the beach offers allows a great opportunity to relax and reflect.  On even the most stressful of days, the sound of the ocean waves can always help wash my worries away.

Something I work very hard at is making sure that I take time out of my busy schedule to look after my mental well-being.  I have found that, apart from the pond beside Carden, nowhere helps me unwind like the beach at Roseisle.

Carden Cottages, Moray, Scotland
The pond by Carden is a great spot to be at peace

Studies have shown that the sounds of nature – including the ocean and birds chirping – can help you recover faster from a stressful event.  Therefore, if you’re looking for a break from the stress and business of everyday life, this is the ideal place for you to visit.

The incredible beach is not all that Roseisle has to offer offer – it also boasts a woodland area that is equally picturesque, and just as relaxing when trying to escape.

The sweet smelling pine trees add to the relaxing atmosphere – making all of your senses completely at peace.

The fantastic woodland at Roseisle is the perfect escape from reality

There really is something for every member of the family in the area – a beach, woods and even a play park.  Every part of the area is just as beautiful during cold days as it is during the summer.

There is also a lot of military history to the beach – with the remnants of anti-tank blocks and pillboxes still standing on the shore.   Therefore, regardless if you are looking for a relaxing atmosphere or an adventure full of hiking ad history, you can find it here.

Our whole family loves Roseisle beach so much that it is where we spend our Boxing Day every year. We usually set up in the afternoon and have drinks and barbecues all day, with a big roaring fire to keep us all warm.  We have even had years where we stayed on the beach having a grand time until one in the morning!

One year there were couples setting off lanterns, making the landscape look like something out of a painting and making our evening even more special.

The area offers lots of public amenities which helps it stand out from other beaches and hiking trails in the area – including public toilets and a vast amount of parking, costing only £2 for the whole day.

This idyllic location, where you can relax and unwind, is only just over 10 minutes away from Carden Cottages by car.

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.

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.