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.

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.