Moray and Speyside
In and around the local area
The county of Moray, the region of Speyside and the greater surrounds of the Scottish Highlands give visitors to Gordon Castle plenty to see and do. First and foremost, our Walled Garden is a must-visit. Just a short walk from the Castle, the eight-acre Walled Garden restoration project is one of the largest kitchen gardens in Britain.
The area where the River Spey runs through Gordon Castle Estate is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and wildlife abounds, including roe deer, otters and ospreys, whilst off the shore of the nearby Moray Firth dolphins can be spotted. For our adventurous guests the Rivers Spey and Findhorn and the Moray Firth offer an array of watersports, including sailing and white water rafting. On land there are many castles, museums, battlefields and other places of historic interest to visit. Last but not least, there are plenty of opportunities to indulge in those two pastimes the Highlands of Scotland are famous for: golf and whisky. For further details visit the MoraySpeyside website.
Right on our doorstep we are fortunate enough to have the fantastic WDC Dolphin Centre where visitors are regularly treated to sightings of the world’s largest bottlenose dolphin! Discover more on 01343 820339. Open 7 days per week from 1st April 2017 – November.
Moray has an excellent array of golf courses. Whether it’s a challenging eighteen holes at Hopeman, where the fairways are jealously guarded by gorse and broom, or nearby Spey Bay, a Par 70 links course designed by the legendary Ben Sayers, or a gentler nine holes amidst the parklands of Rothes, there’s a course for the scratch player and the twenty seven handicapper alike. Here are just a few:
Castle Stuart Golf Links, IV2 7JL. Located just east of Inverness this three times host of the Scottish Open is listed in Golf Magazines top 100 golf courses. www.castlestuartgolf.com
Tel 01463 796111.
Cullen Golf Club, The Links, Cullen, AB56 4WB. Traditional 18 hole Scottish links course with magnificent views over the Moray Firth. www.cullengolfclub.co.uk
Tel 01542 840685
Elgin Golf Club, Birnie Road, Elgin, IV30 8SX. A testing heathland course measuring 6449 yards, fully justifying its claim to being one of the finest inland courses in Northern Scotland. www.elgingolfclub.com
Tel 01343 542338
Forres Golf Club, Muiryshade, Forres, IV36 2RD. Designed by Open Championship winners James Braid and Willie Park, this 18 hole course provides a good test for golfers of all abilities. www.forresgolfclub.co.uk
Tel 01309 672250
Garmouth & Kingston Golf Club, Spey Street, Garmouth, IV32 7NJ. At 5455 yards with a standard scratch score of 67 it’s an enjoyable 18 hole course with excellent greens and stunning scenery. www.garmouthkingstongolfclub.com
Tel 01343 870388
Hopeman Golf Club, Lodge Road, Hopeman, IV30 5YA. One of the most demanding 18 hole links courses in the North of Scotland enjoying fabulous views across the Moray Firth. www.hopemangc.co.uk
Tel 01343 830578
Rothes Golf Club, Blackhall, Rothes, AB38 7AN. An attractive 9 hole inland course built on parkland featuring lush tree-lined fairways with wonderful panoramic views of the Spey Valley. www.rothesgolfclub.co.uk
Tel 01340 831443
Spey Bay Golf Club, The Links, Tugnet, Spey Bay, IV32 7PL. 18 hole links course designed by the legendary Ben Sayers. www.speybay.co.uk
Tel 01343 820424
Speyside Malt Whisky
More than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries are situated in the Speyside region of the Highlands. Some of the most famous malts are here, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Cardhu amongst them, but also the lesser known such as Ben Rinnes, Glenfarclas and the nearest distillery to Castle Gordon, Strathisla in Keith. Because of our abundance of distilleries, we are fortunate enough to be the home of the world-famous Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – a must visit for any whisky enthusiast.
Over forty are listed on the famous ‘Moray Whisky Trail’, which means they have visitors centres and shops and offer tours so you can take ‘a nosing’, learn the secret arts of the distiller and purchase a bottle or two of ‘liquid gold’ to take home with you. Here is just a selection:
Benromach Distillery, Forres, IV36 3EB. www.benromach.com
Tel 01309 675 968
Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery, near Forres, IV36 2RR. www.dallasdhu.com
Tel 01309 676548
Glenfiddich Distillery, Dufftown, AB55 4DH. www.glenfiddich.com
The Glenlivet Distillery, Ballindalloch, AB37 9DB. www.theglenlivet.com
Tel 01340 821720
The Macallan Visitor Centre, Craigellachie, AB38 9RX. www.themacallan.com/visit/
Tel 01340 872280
Speyside Cooperage, Craigellachie, AB38 9RS. www.speysidecooperage.co.uk
Tel 01340 871108
Strathisla Distillery, Keith, AB55 5BS,
Tel 01542 783044
Inland Walks Around Fochabers
There are a number of pleasant and fairly easy going short walks around Castle Gordon Estate and into the picturesque village of Fochabers. We have five recommended walks, starting from the Square and Forestry Car Park just outside the village:
The Intake and River Spey (2.5 miles)
Slorach’s Wood (2.5 miles)
The Belt Path to the Winding Walks (2.5 miles)
Ordiquish and Jean Carr’s Stone (6 miles)
Winding Walks (2.5 miles +)
Longer Coastal and River Walks
Discover why the National Geographic lists the Moray Firth amongst the top ten coastal destinations in the world. Traverse rugged cliffs, caves, sheltered coves and sweeping sandy beaches along the fifty mile Moray Coastal Trail.
Head inland along the Speyside Way, skirting the river along the course of the old North of Scotland Railway Line, lush woodland and pastures giving way to open moorlands and a vista of mountains, amongst them, in the near distance, Ben Rinnes, the ‘Mountain of Moray’.
Two great rivers cut a swathe through this undulating landscape: the River Spey, broad and rapid, the second longest river in Scotland, but indisputably the fastest, and its less expansive neighbour, the River Findhorn, renowned for its gorge scenery and the picture-postcard setting of its mouth at Findhorn Bay. Here are a few of the designated walks we recommend:
Dava Way: A gently graded twenty four mile footpath following the course of the old Highland Railway from Forres to Grantown-upon-Spey. www.davaway.org.uk
Isla Way: Linking the distillery towns of Dufftown and Keith, taking a varied route of woodland, minor roads and field paths. www.walkhighlands.co.uk/moray/isla-way.shtml
Moray Coastal Trail: Fifty mile footpath skirting the Moray Firth from Forres to Cullen and running along cliff paths, quiet roads and the course of the old Great North of Scotland’s coastal railway line. www.morayways.org.uk
Speyside Way: One of four official ‘Long Distance Routes’ in Scotland, follows the course of the River Spey from Buckie to Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park with a much hillier offshoot from Ballindalloch to Tomintoul. Part of the route follows the old Great North of Scotland Railway line between Craigellachie and Boat of Garten. www.speysideway.org
The Speyside Way connects to the Moray Coastal Trail at Buckie and the Dava Way at Grantown-on-Spey, forming a long circular walk known as ‘Moray Way’.
Cairngorms National Park: larger than the Lake District and twice the size of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, a rambler’s paradise no less. The largest national park in the UK, its ancient pine forests, arctic mountain tops, lochs, rivers and moorlands offer every type of outdoor adventure from gentle strolls to extreme sports.
The flora and fauna includes red squirrel, osprey, black grouse, mountain hare and roe deer and there are many rare plants and flowers. You can also take the Funicular Railway near Aviemore and take in fabulous views across the mountain range to Ben Nevis in the South. www.visitcairngroms.com Tel 01479 873535
Cycling Around the Estate and Further Afield
Gordon Castle Estate has mountain bikes and helmets for guests to use and there are a number of designated mountain bike trails both nearby and further afield. Try Moray Monster Trails, twenty miles of fun-packed mountain bike routes near Fochabers (www.scotland.forestry.gov.uk/visit/moray-monster-trails). Or Glenlivet Mountain Bike Trails, a selection of purpose built mountain bike trails through spectacular scenery offering trails suitable for the novice and expert biker alike.
www.glenlivetestate.co.uk Tel 01479 870070
Kayaking, White Water Rafting and Other Watersports
Speyside and the wider Highlands are a paradise for watersports adventurers. Surging mountain burns, sheltered inland lochs, fast flowing rivers, fjord-like sea-lochs and bays – the perfect ingredients for adventure on the water. A number of organisations run watersports activities in the region:
Ace Adventure Multi-Activity Centre, Dunphail, Forres, Moray, IV36 2QL, www.aceadventures.co.uk
Findhorn Marina Activity Centre, IV36 3YE, www.findhornmarina.com
North 58° Sea Adventure, Findhorn, Forres, Moray, IV36 3YE, www.north58.co.uk
Museums and Places of Historic Interest
We have over a thousand years of history waiting for you to discover. Traces of the first Pictish settlers can be found in the standing stones that scatter the moorlands. The real Macbeth was crowned King of Scotland in 1040 at Pitgaveney near Elgin. Fort George, the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain, began in 1746 following the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at nearby Culloden, the last battle to be fought on British soil. The agricultural and industrial heritage of the region is well preserved too: just one example being Knockando Woolmill, which dates back to 1754 and is the oldest district working mill in Northern Europe, and, we must add, the recent star of BBC’s Restorations and Beechgrove Gardens. Here are just a few places you may like to visit during your stay:
Burghead Fort, IV30 5UA, www.burghead.com/burgheadfort.html
Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre, Culloden Moor, IV2 5EU, www.nts.org.uk/Culloden/Home Tel 0844 4932159
Duff House, Banff, AB45 3SX, www.duffhouse.org.uk Tel 01261 818181
Elgin Cathedral, IV30 1HU, www.historic-scotland.gov.uk Tel 01343 547171
Elgin Museum, IV30 1EQ, www.elginmuseum.org.uk Tel 01343 543675
Falconer Museum, Forres, IV36 1PH, www.falconermuseum.co.uk Tel 01309 696261
Fort George near Inverness, IV2 7TD, www.historic-scotland.gov.uk Tel 01667 460232
Grantown Museum, PH26 3HH, www.grantownmuseum.co.uk Tel 01479 872478
Knockando Woolmill near Aberlour, AB38 7RP, www.knockandowoolmill.org.uk Tel 01340 810345
Moray Motor Museum, Elgin, IV30 4DE, www.moraymotormuseum.org Tel 01343 544933
Pluscarden Abbey near Elgin, IV30 8UA, www.pluscardenabbey.org Tel 01343-890258
Spynie Palace near Elgin, IV30 5QG, www.visitscotland.com Tel 01343 546358
Retail Therapy in Moray and Speyside
There are numerous opportunities to indulge in a unique kind of retail therapy during your stay at Gordon Castle. Around us are many traditional manufactories and handcraft centres selling goods iconic to the Scottish Highlands. Here are a few suggestions:
Baxters Highland Village
This world famous complex is just across the road bridge from the Castle.
Johnstons Cashmere Elgin
In addition to the world famous retail shop, there is also a heritage centre, mill tours and a coffee shop. Sale bins are to be found in both the mens and ladies fashions all year.
The factory is based in Aberlour (which is not open to the public) but there is a factory shop which sells a wide range of products. View website
Brodie Country Fair
This complex, just beyond Forres on the A96, has many traditional Scottish gifts as well as lots of fashion and interior accessories. View website
This beautifully restored steading is home to craft shops, bookshops, art gallery and a lovely countryside café serving home made food. View website
Gordon & MacPhail
As well as a huge range of single malt whiskies, this traditional store on South Street in Elgin has a delicatessen section and many bottled and packaged Scottish products.
McCall’s Kilt Shop
One of a number of traditional kilt manufacturers, this one is based in Elgin. View website
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