A great place to visit during your stay at Carden Cottages is the Moray Motor Museum. The museum is home to a superb collection of veteran, vintage and classic cars and motorbikes.
Located in a light and airy old mill building in Elgin, part of which dates back to the era of Elgin Cathedral when the Bishops of Moray ruled Moravia, the museum creates a classic atmosphere that matches the vehicles inside.
Upon stepping aside you are greeted by the fantastically enthusiastic curator, Brian. He shares some fantastic stories about the vintage cars and eras gone by.
It is immediately obvious how much care and passion has went into caring for the vehicles that are available for viewing and hiring.
The museum showcases some fantastic classic vehicles, dating as far back as 1904. There is a tremendous display of immaculate vintage vehicles, with plenty of information regarding their history available to read.
Although the exhibition is small, the brilliant condition of the cars, combined with how rare they are and the fact that they are all in perfect working condition, certainly makes up for the lack of size.
My favourite car in the museum is the 1963 Tojeiro Ford. The car was probably the first to be driven by a then young Jackie Stewart as a professional driver, and would have recorded successes such as Brands Hatch and Silverstone. These interesting stories are part of what makes the museum so exciting!
There are also a variety of Corgi/Matchbox toy cars from around the 60s and 70s that evoke some fantastic childhood memories at the museum.
Moray Motor Museum also offers vintage wedding car hire, so you should definitely check out their website for more information if you plan to stay at Carden for your or a loved one’s wedding.
The museum, like Carden, has disabled access, making it accessible for everybody.
All of these memories can be seen for the price of £7 per adult, £3 for juniors (aged 5 – 14), £15 for families (two adults with children) and £6 for OAPs.
The opening hours for the Motor Museum are between 11am and 5pm every day from Easter Weekend until October. For more information, you can contact them on 01343 544 933 or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org
Moray Motor Museum is just a 10 minute drive from your stay at Carden Cottages and there is free parking on site.
Carden Cottages is surrounded by lots of gorgeous towns and villages. One of my favourite villages is Burghead, a beautiful coastal settlement with a rich history.
The peaceful village is located on the shores of the Moray Firth in the North East Scotland and is known for its fantastic Pict history, beautiful scenery and the traditional burning of the Clavie.
The stunning seaside village is the perfect place to visit for relaxing or adventuring. The beautiful views of the sea and wildlife are relaxing, and the various hidden historic sites make the village very exciting.
Burghead Visitor Centre
There are lots of activities to do around Burghead, I would recommend first having a look around the Visitor Centre. The centre sits where the former Coastguard lookout was, and gives visitors a unique insight into the history of the village.
Burghead Visitor Centre takes visitors through the history of the area, starting around 400AD and ending in present time. In 2013 an extension feature was added to the building, which gives stunning views over the Moray Firth. It also showcases the lives of the herring lasses who followed the herring fishing fleet from Barra to Lowestoft, and also information of the natural history of the headland and the Moray Firth. It is open from 12 noon to 4pm daily from April until the end of September, you can call 01343 835 518 for more information.
The Burghead Well
The Burghead Well is another historic gem in the village. The structure was cleared out in 1809 and has confused archaeologists since. It remains a mystery by whom, when or why this incredible monument was created.
A flight of 20 stone steps lead down into the ground to a square chamber with a square rock-cut tank fed by an underwater spring. When the chamber was cleared out objects recovered included a stone with a bull carved on it, part of a Pictish stone cross and bizarrely a number of Spanish coins.
There have been many theories regarding the function of the “well”, including:
a shrine to Celtic water deities
a place of ritual execution
an early Christian baptistery
a Pictish cult centre, later converted to Christian use
To visit the well you have to get a key for a locked gate from the Visitor Centre, to find out more, visit the Visitor Centre website.
The village of Burghead was built on top of a Pictish promontory fort. It was one of the earliest power centres of the Picts and was three times the size of any other enclosed site in Early Medieval Scotland. It is likely that the fort may have been the main centre of the Pictish Kingdom of Fortriu.
The remains of the fort were largely destroyed when the harbour and town of Burghead were remodelled in the early 19th century, but its layout is recorded in a plan drawn by William Roy in 1793. Sections of its inner ramparts still stand up to 9.8 feet (3.0m) high, and a small section of the innermost outer rampart survives on Doorie Hill.
It is great to explore Burghead and try and spot the remains of its Pictish heritage.
The Burning of the Clavie
One of Burghead’s longstanding traditions is the burning of the Clavie every year on the 11th of January. It is a fantastic event that I believe everybody should witness at least once in their life.
The unique fire festival is a day meant for greeting the New Year and bringing good luck to the people who attend the burning of the Clavie for the rest of the year.
The flaming Clavie (a barrel full of staves) is carried around the town followed by a large crowd until it reaches its final destination on top of Doorie Hill, on the ramparts of the ancient fort. It is wedged there and allowed to burn out and fall downhill until it reaches the bottom, where people eagerly gather the smouldering embers. If you are fortunate enough to be able to grab a piece of the Clavie then it is said that you will have good luck for the coming year.
It is a great sight to see if you are staying with Carden Cottages in January.
Dolphins & Wildlife
As well as the stunning scenery Burghead has to offer, there is great wildlife on land, in the sky and in the sea.
One of the main wildlife attractions of Burghead is the birds, making it a fantastic place for keen bird watchers to visit. The bay is a favourite wintering ground for many seabirds, such as scoter or eider, and the perfect summer fishing spot for spectacular osprey.
The town’s sea life is also incredible – with grey seals, porpoises, mink whales and dolphin swimming in the Moray Firth. The Firth is home to the most northerly resident population of bottle nose dolphins in the world – and Burghead Headland offers a great vantage point for spotting them.
All of these great activities, historic treasures and beautiful wildlife can be found in Burghead at only a 10 minute drive from Carden Cottages.
The ruins of a beautiful Abbey lie within the picturesque setting of Kinloss village. It is a must visit for history fans and lovers of fantastic scenery when staying at Carden Cottages in the Moray area.
The Cistercian Abbey is a great place to visit to learn about history, folklore and to admire the beautiful ruins and surroundings.
The Kinloss Abbey was founded in 1150 by King David I of Scotland. He was said to be hunting nearby when he was separated from the rest of his party. Then, lost in the thick woodland that used to cover the majority of that area, he prayed for guidance.
It is said that he was then led by a dove to a shelter belonging to some shepherds where he spent the night. During his slumber, he apparently dreamt that he was instructed to establish a church to give thanks for his rescue and marked out the plan of the Abbey with his sword the next morning, before leaving to find his party at Duffus Castle.
After he told his nobles of his vision, he called architects and masons that were working on various royal projects and ordered that the Kinloss Abbey would be created. He remained at Duffus to oversee his project, until he was called away by other affairs.
When King David I had to leave, he sent to Melrose for a monk, whom he set in charge over his builders and the rising monastery, of which he was afterwards made the first Abbot.
Upon visiting today, you can see that only ruins remain where the once richest Abbey in Scotland used to stand. The remains of the South Transept with associated Chapel and the Sacristy with the Prior’s Chamber above can all be found and admired in Kinloss.
At the south and west are two near complete cloister walls one containing the Lavatorium and archway into the Refectory. South of the Abbey, outside the cemetery is Abbot’s House.
From ground level you can see the remains of most of the foundations or low walls of the Abbey including the south wall of the church, the north Transept and many of the columns within the Nave.
Walking around the Abbey grounds, you can see information boards that are full of interesting facts that help guide you through the ruins.
Entrance to the Abbey grounds is free and is cared for by the Kinloss Abbey Trust.
One of my favourite places to sit back with a cup of coffee and do some work is Café Fika in Forres.
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.
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 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.
The beautiful Brodie castle is a must visit when exploring the Moray area. The 16th– century castle has something for everyone – history, a wonderful art collection, beautiful gardens and a nature trail.
Brodie Castle was home to the Brodie clan for over 400 years, originally being built by the clan themselves in 1567. Upon visiting the beautiful rose coloured building you can see how it has been shaped by history, with the original 1500s architecture having 17th century and Victorian additions.
When you have finished taking in the outside of the building, you can then venture inside to experience a unique insight into the past. Stepping inside the castle is like stepping back in time, with priceless art work, antiques and other quirky historic artefacts. The art gallery contains beautiful work from many artists, varying from Dutch Old Masters to modern watercolours.
On the outside, Brodie Castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens spanning over 71 hectares of ground. The beautiful gardens boast incredible displays of a variety of flowers in the springtime, including bright blooming daffodils. These gardens are great for a relaxing walk and for breathing in the tranquil surroundings.
There is also an adventure playground for the children, as well as a natural trail with observation hides for catching a glimpse of wildlife. Therefore, there is something for the whole family!
The history at Brodie Castle doesn’t stop at the building itself – there is also a Pictish monument located on the close as you approach the castle. Known as ‘Rodney’s Stone’, the two-metre high stone slab has some beautiful images carved into it.
Originally found in the grounds of the old church of Dyke and Moy, the stone has a large cross on one side and intricate engravings on the other, including two fish monsters, a “Pictish Beast”, a double disc and z-rod.
The castle is also located near Macbeth’s Hillock, where it is claimed that the hero of the Shakespearean tale had his encounter with the Weird Sisters.
The castle and estate’s opening times vary per season, right now in June Brodie Castle is open from 10am to 5pm daily, but from July until the end of August it will have extended hours of 9:30am until 6pm.
Ticket prices are: £11 for an adult, £35 for a family, £29 for a family with one adult, £9.50 for concessions and £6.50 for children. For more information about ticket prices, visit the Brodie Castle website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 email@example.com
Moray Golf Courses
Click on the links below to find out more about the individual Golf Clubs in Moray.
The Red Lion, known lovingly by locals as The “Red Beastie”, is a fantastic little pub in Forres.
Located just off Forres High Street, it is an ideal central location for when you are exploring the area.
I recently went to the beastie for my dinner and found myself spoilt for choice for starters, mains and desserts. On my visit I opted to take advantage of the specials menu, treating myself to all three courses.
To start, I had the traditional haggis and clapshot with whisky cream. This deliciously Scottish dish melted in the mouth. The pub certainly did the classic combination justice!
I then had grilled butterflied chicken, served with rice and veg and a tasty honey Dijon sauce. The chicken was cooked perfectly – moist and juicy. The sauce added a nice sweet touch that brilliantly complimented the rest of the dish.
For my final and favourite course (dessert!) I had a fantastically sweet homemade oreo cheesecake. It was the perfect combination of a crumbly biscuit base, with a rich, creamy top half. The chunks of oreo mixed with the soft texture added a superb extra crunch that took the dessert to the next level. I would definitely recommend you give it a go if it is on the menu when you visit.
Unfortunately, on this occasion I was driving so I didn’t get to put the bar to the test. However, The Red Lion bar serves everything – from cask ales and premium lagers to wine or whisky. It is definitely the spot to unwind and relax with a drink in Forres.
The staff were all very friendly and the service was excellent. You are never left waiting to be served or dying of thirst waiting on a drink!
I would recommend the Red Beastie to anyone looking to relax and enjoy some good, hearty food after a long day.
The largest whisky festival of its kind in the world, Spirit of Speyside, is set to return for another successful run next week.
Starting on Wednesday the 1st of May and ending on Monday 6th May, the festival boasts a programme of over 500 whisky-inspired events.
The whisky festival allows you to tour old and new distilleries, village halls, local whisky bars, historic castles, old steadings, much loved local shops as well as the great outdoors! What better way to explore the Speyside area than with a nip or two of some of Scotland’s most popular whiskies?
There are events all over the Moray area to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the festival, from Aviemore in the South, following the river Spey to central Speyside and the historic towns in the coastal North.
Scotland has a long history with uisge beatha (the water of life), with the fiery drink, with the first recorded account of whisky going back to Friar John Cor in around 1495. However, most believe that the manufacturing of whisky in Scotland stems back much further than that.
Spirit of Speyside is run by a board of directors from different industries including whisky, culture and heritage, tourism and hospitality. They work on a voluntary basis along with the festival manager, finance manager and event development graduate.
There are a number of distilleries that open their doors for the festival, with the events programme changing every year. This year distilleries hosting events include Craigellachie, Ballindalloch, Glenlivet and GlenAllachie, to name just a few.
The festival also delivers an opening dinner, opening and closing ceilidhs, the Whisky Awards and the Whisky School. However, the majority of events are delivered by partners and members, making every event unique.
You can book tickets now for the many events by visiting the Spirit of Speyside website. Events include distillery tours, whisky tastings, walks, afternoon teas and much more. The prices for these events range from free, to £30 – £60, to £500. There are activities to suit every budget.
Although the festival is spectacular, visitors can expect a friendly welcome at Speyside all year round.
Make Moray your destination for your next whisky tasting experience by booking your stay at Carden Cottages now. You can also subscribe to our mailing list for updates on last minute bargains.