Try something new at Café Fika, Forres

One of my favourite places to sit back with a cup of coffee and do some work is Café Fika in Forres.

Café Fika is the perfect place to relax and unwind | Credit: Fika

 

The Swedish style café serves lovely organic and Fairtrade filter coffee, organic teas and organic hot chocolate.  They also offer cakes and biscuits, that change daily, that consist of gluten free and vegan options.  There are also delicious homemade Swedish style cinnamon buns available for a special treat on Fridays.

If you fancy more than a quick cuppa and a cake, they also have vegetarian and vegan soups, homemade sourdough, with vegetarian quiche and salads available on Thursdays and Fridays.

Café Fika offers a great range of vegan and vegetarian food | Credit: Fika

 

This café is a great alternative stop from the usual food and drink served in cafés.  It doesn’t serve your usual lattes, mochas, cappuccinos etc, but what you do get is a tasty filter coffee that is refilled, a range of teas and a lovely organic hot chocolate.

On my most recent visit I had my usual cup of coffee to fuel me for a bit of work and a nice vegan Brownie, because sod the diet!  The Brownie had lovely flakes of coconut in and felt a lot less sweet than a regular Brownie, therefore I didn’t feel so bad about breaking my diet.

The owners of Café Fika are a lovely couple who are always happy to have a nice chat.  You are guaranteed a warm welcome at Fika, as well as a full warm cup of coffee, as the staff will top up your cup for free!

The constant coffee refills and the relaxed atmosphere in the Swedish style café makes it the perfect place to relax unwind, switch off from the outside world or stick your head down and get some work done.  There isn’t too many tables, so it is never overcrowded or overly busy, which helps with trying to relax or trying to concentrate.

Café Fika is uncrowded, making it the perfect place for both working and relaxing | Credit: Fika

Café Fika is also a great place to inspire creativity.  There are regular poetry readings from local poets, a great alternative way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Beautiful artwork by Swedish illustrators line the walls as well, which are great to admire while you enjoy your coffee.

Café Fika is only a 15 minute drive from your stay at Carden Cottages, and there is free parking not far away.

 

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.

 

Golfing in Moray

Moray is home to a huge variety of beautiful golf courses to suit every kind of golfer.  From the beautiful Cullen Links Course, to the upmarket Lossiemouth Club, to the popular Hopeman Course – Moray has a course for everyone regardless of budget, skill set or scenery preference!

Cullen Links, Cullen, Moray, Scotland
Cullen Links is set in the picturesque coastal town of Cullen | Credit: Wikimedia

Scenic Views

The stunning Cullen Links Golf Course is one of the most popular in the Moray area – and it is easy to see why.  The quality of the picturesque views surrounding this golf course are enough to make even the worst round of golf you’ve ever played feel like its going smoothly.  There are beautiful views of the ocean, which are like something out of a painting on a nice sunny day.

With 10 par three holes – Cullen is the shortest links course in Scotland.  However, the short course is full of adventure – winding its way up around a cliff-top, before twisting back down towards the shore where you can golf in between old sea stacks.

The Covesea Links is another course in the Moray area with fantastic views of the sea.  The 9-hole course is nestled in a cove right on the coast between Lossiemouth and Hopeman – following the contours of the cove to offer stunning views of the coast.

Hopeman Golf Course, Moray, Scotland
Hopeman Golf Course is home to one of the best 3-par holes in Scotland | Credit: Geograph

Best Par 3 Hole in Scotland

Hopeman Golf Course is by far one of the most popular courses in the Moray area.  In fact, it’s signature hole, The Prieshach, was voted one of the best Par 3 holes in Scotland by Sky Golf.

Although the 12th hole is the signature hole, there are several others that stand out as particularly brilliant – with the greens at this course being just as good as the far pricier courses in the area.  It is no wonder that the course is so popular.

Moray Golf Clubhouse, Lossiemouth, Scotland
Moray Golf Club is popular with visitors | Credit: Richard Hoare

High End Courses

Moray Golf Course is one of the more high end clubs in the area.  The clubhouse has some real old world charm, and offers some delicious food and drink – the most important part for me!

The course is of a very high standard – with the fairways and greens kept in excellent condition.  It is a great challenge, especially when the wind is blowing, but you can treat yourself to an excellent meal afterwards.

Golfing for Better Mental Health

Not only does golfing help improve your physical health, there are strong arguments to suggest it works wonders for your mental health too.  Research has shown that the sport can help you improve your confidence, self-esteem and anxiety levels.

Next week, on Friday 17th May, Living Golf will be hosting its Changing Lives in Moray event at Covesea Golf Links.  The purpose of the event is to promote the sport as a way of improving mental health.

The event is open to everyone, regardless of ability (so even I might be able to give it a go!)  Teams of four can play 9 holes at a cost of £5 per player.  For more information, or if you have transport problems, you can contact Living Golf on 07570 139657 or letsplay@livinggolf.com

Moray Golf Courses

Click on the links below to find out more about the individual Golf Clubs in Moray.

 

For more information about golfing in the Moray area, check out our other article on the sport.

Carden Cottages offers a central location to call home while you are visiting all of the fantastic surrounding golf courses.  Join our mailing list to find out about some fantastic last minute deals.

Spynie Palace is a must visit in Moray

One of my favourite castles in Moray reopens this month.  Spynie Palace has a rich history, beautiful scenery, and is well worth a visit if you are in the Moray area!

Spynie Palace Moray
The magnificent ruins of Spynie Palace | Credit: Mike Searle

Spynie Palace is actually the largest surviving medieval bishop’s house in Scotland.  It was the residence of the bishops of Moray for five centuries, with royalty travelling the area sometimes using it as a guesthouse.  James I, James II and James IV were among those who stayed at Spynie during their travels.

The palace originally sat at the edge of Spynie Loch, surrounded by a thriving settlement.  Today only ruins remain where the palace once stood – the loch tiny in comparison to its former self.

Due to its rich history, there are many stunning historic features of Spynie Castle to appreciate on your visit.  Some details are smaller than others – for example you can see the gun holes that the final Catholic Bishop of Spynie Palace, Patrick Hepburn, had put in place just before the Protestant Reformation of 1560.

The three bishops who played a part in the building of the tower house have their coats of arms displayed at Spynie Palace

My favourite part however, is David’s Tower.  The tower is the largest tower house by volume to survive in Scotland.  The top of the tower offers fantastic views of the spectacular countryside that the palace is located in, as well as the rest of the palace.

You can also find all three of the Bishop’s coat of arms who were parties to the creation of the tower house carved intricately into the ruins.

Due to its peaceful location, birds and other wildlife can also be spotted in the area.  Loch Spynie is actually a great location for bird watching – from mute swans, to ducks, to woodpeckers, many different birds have been spotted in the area.

swans Loch Spynie Moray
Swans, among many other birds, can be spotted at Loch Spynie | Credit: Des Colhoun

The palace is also a 10 minute drive to one of my other favourite tourist spots, Elgin Cathedral, which has a rich history, and I would recommend going there when you are in the area.

Tickets come at affordable prices, including: £6 per adult, £4.80 for people 60 and above, £3.60 for children, free for children under five and £1.00 for YoungScot Card Holders.

Despite the fact that Spynie Palace has shrunk from an incredible castle to ruins, it still has a remarkable grandeur about it.  I would definitely recommend a visit when you are staying with us at Carden Cottages – it’s less than a 20 minute drive!

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.

Great customer service at The Loft, Kinloss

This week I ventured over to The Loft in Kinloss for a business meeting – and in search of the perfect coffee!

The Loft Café from outside | Credit: The Loft

Having recently had my mind opened to the incredible world of a Cortado, I wanted to find out if one of my favourite cafes that I visit regularly could provide one for me.  This option wasn’t on The Loft’s menu, but the wonderful Gayle was kind enough to make one for me anyway.

After a quick Google she knew exactly what she was doing and the next thing I knew I had the perfect Cortado sitting in front of me.  The coffee was made exactly how I hoped it would be, with the exactly right balance between coffee and frothy deliciousness.

The Loft Coffee Cortado
Gayle going out of her way to make me my Cortado!

As I’m (trying) to be very healthy lately, I only ate a little cheese scone on my visit.  It was fresh out the oven and smelled incredible.  Because it was still warm from being freshly baked, my butter melted perfectly into the light and fluffy scone.

My colleague, who was being considerably less healthy than me, decided to have a big slice of chocolate cake – probably just to make me jealous!  According to her, it was delicious, melted in the mouth and had beautiful rich icing.  I think I have had enough cake from The Loft to take her opinion as a fact, as every cake I have had from there has been stunning.

Crispy cake at The Loft Kinloss
Some of the tasty cakes from The Loft

Although the coffee, scones and cakes are all amazing at The Loft, it is the friendliness and kindness of the staff that really takes the café to the next level.  From Gayle going out of her way to get me the Cortado I had my heart set on, to Bill the chef passionately talking us through all of the great soup ideas he has – the staff are there to brighten your experience from the moment you step through the door.

If you want to find out more about The Loft Café and the delicious treats they offer you can visit their website, Facebook page or Instagram.  They are also more than just a café: they offer activities, host events such as concerts, and even work as a wedding venue!

It is also in a prime bird-watching spot and is close to many local attractions, from beaches to museums.

Best of all, you can find all of this at just a 10 minute drive from your stay at Carden Cottages.

Take some Time Out at one of Forres’ best cafes

One of my favourite spots for a spot of coffee and some cake in Forres is Time Out Café.

Outside Time Out Cafe Forres High Street
Time Out Cafe is located in the centre of Forres | Credit: Maria W

My most recent visit to the café, which is conveniently located on the High Street, was for business rather than pleasure – but that didn’t stop me thoroughly enjoying my time there.

Time Out is a great place to visit when you want to get some work done, but in a relaxed and informal setting.  The combination of tables and booths creates a laid back atmosphere to the café, which can really help when you’re having a mental block.

Hard work can build up quite the appetite, which is probably part of the reason my bacon roll went down so quickly, but this was also largely due to the fact that it was so delicious.  The bacon was juicy yet crisp, cooked exactly how I like it.

 I washed my food down with a mug of delicious white coffee, the perfect drink to compliment a bacon roll and to keep my brain functioning properly while doing work.

The café also offers fresh home bakes, including mouth-watering Danishes which are always my go-to at Time Out when I am there for a light snack.

Time Out Café have Delicious Home Bakes | Credit: Time Out Café

Time Out also offer a full lunch menu including everything from soups, sandwiches and toasties to burgers and macaroni cheese.

Aside from the great food, one of the main reasons I enjoy my trips to Time Out is the great customer service from the lovely workers.  They are always there to lend a helping hand, even when the café is packed full – which it often is as it is a very popular spot.

To top it all off, the prices are more than reasonable, but make sure you bring your cash with you as they do not accept card!

The café is only a 15 minute drive from Carden Cottages and I would definitely recommend giving it a visit if you find yourself visiting any of the sites in Forres, such as Sueno’s Stone.