If there is one thing I love as much as coffee and cake, its a tasty bacon roll, and Chimes in Forres offers some of the most delicious bacon baps I’ve ever had.
Chimes is a lovely and quaint cafe/restaurant, that also offers an outside catering service.
I went there this week for a nice relaxed breakfast, where I had amazingly juicy bacon in a soft roll with a wee dash of tomato sauce. My lovely wife Debbie, who isn’t a big meat eater, opted for vegetarian sausage in a roll, which she said was delicious.
Chimes pride themselves on using locally sourced foods for their breakfast, lunches, snacks and fresh baking, which I believe is a great ideology to have! They also offer a range of tasty gluten free, vegetarian and vegan food, cakes and drinks.
I had my usual coffee on my latest visit to Chimes, but I have to recommend the amazing Mint Aero Milkshake that they have on their menu. The sweet tooth in me absolutely adores it! It is a delicious blend of chocolate and mint goodness, and makes the perfect combination of dessert and cold drink.
I can also highly recommend their delicious home bakes – from their tasty brownie to their scrumptious cakes – everything they produce is top notch!
The cafe/restaurant has a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere, which makes it the perfect place to chill out and enjoy some good food and good company.
The staff at Chimes are always very friendly and happy to help, and seem to always find time to humour me with a little chat.
You can visit Chimes from 9am to 5pm everyday. To find out more about Chimes and they’re catering service – which I have never tried but if it is as good as the cafe I’m sure its fabulous – on Facebook or via their website.
Chimes is less than a 15 minute drive from your stay at Carden Cottages, so you could even take your bacon roll to go and eat it while gazing upon our gorgeous lake that is only a tiny distance away from our cottages.
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.
Shakespeare’s tale of Macbeth is well known around the world, but the real story of the Scottish King is far lesser known.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
One of the most fantastic traditions in the Moray area is the burning of the Clavie in Burghead. The ancient Scottish custom takes place every year in the small fishing village, and brings in people from all over the world.
Every year, on the evening of the 11th of January (unless that date falls on a Sunday, in which case it would be the 10th of January) people gather in the North East to witness the spectacular event. The 11th of January was New Year’s Eve, or Hogmanay as we say in Scotland, by the Julian calendar.
In the 1750s, the Julian calendar was reformed in Britain and the Gregorian calendar was introduced. During this time of change, people rioted over their loss of 11 days – but the Brochers of Burghead decided that they would take this opportunity to celebrate New Year twice!
The Clavie is made up of wooden casks that have been split in two, then lit like a bonfire. One of the casks is joined together by a huge nail and filled with tar and is then set alight.
After it is set on fire, the Clavie is then paraded round the village in all its fiery glory by members of the Clavie Crew. Only people who are natives of Burghead qualify to be part of this crew.
As they make their way through the town, members of the Clavie Crew hand out pieces of the Clavie to householders to ensure they have good luck for the following year.
The Clavie, along with its eager followers, makes its way up to the top of Doorie Hill, where it is wedged into the remains of an ancient fort, and a bonfire is formed from split casks. Finally, when the blazing tar-barrel falls in pieces, everyone scrambles excitedly in hopes of getting a lighted piece with which to kindle their New Year’s fire.
The charcoal of the Clavie is also collected and put to good use – it is put in pieces up cottage chimneys to keep spirits and witches from forcing their way down and into people’s homes.
The burning of the Clavie dates back to the even further than the 1750s, but it is uncertain exactly when the tradition started.
If you want to start 2020 with a bang and bring yourself good fortune, book now to stay at Carden Cottages next year. Our beautiful cottages are only an 11 minute drive from the beautiful village of Burghead.
The dolphins in the Moray Firth are one of the most popular visitor attractions in the area. There are many different ways and places that you can try to catch a glimpse of the beautiful creatures.
Dolphins are one of my favourite animals. They are intelligent, beautiful and can even be a wee bit cheeky! The unique opportunity that visiting Moray offers to see the dolphins in their natural habitat is a compelling reason to holiday in the area.
There are thought to be around 130 Bottlenose dolphins living in the Moray Firth, and they are the most northerly residing dolphins in the world.
Due to the fact that they live in a colder climate than their relations, these dolphins are a lot bigger and fatter, as they have a larger percentage of blubber in their bodies to protect them from the cold water.
One of the main dolphin spotting hotspots is at Burghead, just an 11 minute drive from Carden Cottages. From Burghead you access some brilliant spots for checking out the Firth’s wildlife. The best viewing spot is the cliffs where the visitor centre is.
From the cliffs you can see for miles, gaining fantastic views of the sea for around 40 miles on a clear day. Taking a pair of binoculars with you is highly recommended.
Seeing a dolphin can be a rare treat, however if you follow Moray Dolphins’ guide you are far more likely to spot one of the magnificent creatures!
If you are unlucky and you miss a chance to view the dolphins there are plenty of other wildlife you will definitely be able to spot. There are some great birds to be spotted, including sandmartins, comorants, shags, fulmar and herring gulls.
You can also often see seals in the harbour – and if you are really lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a whale in the sea!
Burghead visitor centre also offers an insight into the rich history of the area, including the Clavie ancient fire festival. It also provides toilets, which is always a bonus as you could be waiting a while for the dolphins to make an appearance.
Another way to see the dolphins is to go out by boat to see them. You can go out on boats from Lossieouth, Nairn, Inverness, Buckie, Avoch, Cromarty and Portmahomack. A full list can be found at greaterspeyside.com
Whichever way, and wherever you choose to view the dolphins of the Moray Firth from, Carden Cottages is the ideal place to come back and relax in after a long day of wildlife watching.
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.