Showing posts from August, 2012

Craigievar Castle

Aberdeenshire | Lumphanan | Castle | ★★★★

A more fairytale castle you never did see... unless you've been to Disneyland. This eye-catchingly pink property dates to the 17th century and was home to the Forbes family for 350 years before being handed to the National Trust for Scotland in the 1960's. Admission inside is by guided tour only (apparently this can get busy, so avoid weekends or visit at opening time to avoid a potential wait), but you're rewarded with an interior managing to be both grand and rustic simultaneously, and surprisingly spacious for the castle's seemingly small size. Smaller gardens and more extensive grounds complete the package, but the tower house is undoubtedly the main event.

📌Craigievar Castle★★★★
Off the A980 4 miles north of Lumphanan, G.R.: NJ 567095 ///unpainted.downhill.clutches
Castle open by guided tour only: daily, June to September; Friday to Tuesday, April to May; weekends in October except the 31st. Grounds: daily | £13 adult / £10…

Pitmedden Garden

Aberdeenshire | Pitmedden | Garden | ★★★

Pitmedden Garden's inception dates back to 1675, when Alexander Seton designed a formal walled garden here to complement his adjacent house. The house burned down and the gardens were abandoned in the early 19th century, but the decades since have brought the property back from the brink. William Seton soon replaced the house and the National Trust for Scotland later begun the task of restoring the grounds to their 17th century design. The results - especially the lower levels - are stunning, even more so if you imagine they might even have looked like this over 300 years ago. The house is largely private but the adjacent Museum of Farming Life isn't - this is included in the admission price.

📌Pitmedden Garden★★★
Off the A920 a mile northwest of Pitmedden, G.R.: NJ 885280 ///situation.respected.cropping
Open daily, late March to late September; Friday to Monday, October to early November | £8 adult / £6 child / free for National Trust fo…

Kinloss Abbey

Moray | Kinloss | Abbey | ★

Founded in 1150 by King David I, extensions and rebuilding over the following centuries allowed Kinloss Abbey to grow to become one of the largest Cistercian monasteries anywhere in Scotland, also accumulating vast wealth and spawning a number of daughter abbeys. Sounds impressive, but decline followed from the 1500s onward, and half a century of demise is a long time. Now set within the village cemetery, only fragments of the abbey have survived to gain an appreciation of its former magnificence, with much of its stone having been reused elsewhere. Indeed, the most impressive aspect to the abbey today is perhaps its extensive website!

📌Kinloss Abbey
By the B9089 immediately south of Kinloss, G.R.: NJ 066615 ///irrigated.focal.prosper
Always open | Free

Burghead & Findhorn

Moray | Villages | ★

The two villages of Burghead and Findhorn are situated at either end of the crescent of Burghead Bay, which stretches for seven golden miles in between. Burghead has been settled since at least Pictish times: an important regional capital with a major fort and subterranean shrine, both of which you can still visit. January 11th each year sees the Burning of the Clavie - a historic fire festival - celebrated in the village. Findhorn has its own unusual appeal. Besides its beautiful position, almost surrounded by water and perched atop fragile sand dunes, it's also home to the Findhorn Foundation: eco-community and a thriving centre for alternative living.

📌Burghead ★
Description: Headland village with picturesque harbour and Pictish connections.
Moray, G.R.: NJ 112690 ///curbed.began.butchers

📌Burghead Fort
Description: Earthworks of a Pictish fort with good views from the coastguard lookout (with newly extended visitor centre) built on top.
Off Granary Street, Bu…

Forres green spaces

Moray | Forres | Parks | ★★

Forres may be rich in history, but it's perhaps even richer in its wealth of parks, gardens and floral displays. Large swathes of woodland and open green spaces still extend right into the middle of town, making the southern and eastern outskirts in particular ideal for a peaceful stroll on a sunny day. During summer Grant Park comes alive with a stunning array of floral sculptures and sunken gardens: it's little wonder that the town keeps winning Scotland in Bloom awards, although no doubt given a hand by the benign Moray microclimate. On top of Cluny Hill above, the early 19th century Nelson's Tower was built in memory of Admiral Lord Nelson and boasts superb views. And last but not least is Sanquhar Loch: a manmade yet picturesque pond within woodland between southern suburbs.

📌Grant Park ★★
Next to Victoria Road, 5-min walk east of Forres town centre, G.R.: NJ 042591 ///
Always open | Free

📌Nelson's Tower★★
Off Victoria R…


Moray | Town | ★★

Forres is a town of under 15,000 inhabitants, but boats a list of diverse attractions that many towns several times its size would envy. This former burgh sits towards the northern edge of the Speyside whisky region. Benromach Distillery still produces the golden elixir just across the A96 from the town centre, while to the south, Dallas Dhu no longer operates but remains open to the public under the care of Historic Scotland. Add to these the tallest Pictish stone in Scotland, a plethora of green spaces and plenty of old buildings... you'd be hard pressed to find a more interesting town anywhere in Moray.

📌Forres ★★
Moray, G.R.: NJ 038589 ///cool.slung.fell

Within walking distance

>> Forres green spaces page: Grant Park ★★; Nelson's Tower ★★; Sanquhar Loch ★★

📌St Laurence Parish Church★★
Description: Probably the most impressive building on the High Street: striking neo-Gothic exterior and cavernous, warm interior.
High Street, town centre, G.R.: NJ 036589…

Walk: Sgòr Gaoith - simply stunning

Highland | Cairngorm Plateau | Full day walk | ★★★★

Sgòr Gaoith has one of the most dramatically-located summits in the Cairngorms, if not all of Scotland. Perched precipitously above cliffs plunging over 600 vertical metres to Loch Eanaich, the edge of the crags also offers awe-inspiring views of Braeriach's western side, strewn with perfectly sculpted coires. Fortunately the ascent from Glen Feshie traverses much friendlier slopes: the sudden contrast as you arrive abruptly at the cliff edge will take your breath away. Returning over Geal-charn (formerly also a Munro) reveals excellent views north over Strathspey and Glenmore Forest Park, with the Monadhliath Mountains beyond.

📌 Walk: Sgòr Gaoith - simply stunning ★★★★
▶ 14 km / 9 miles | ▲ 910 metres
Summits: Sgòr Gaoith (1118 metres, Munro); Meall Buidhe (976 metres); Geal-charn (920 metres)
Start / finish: Space to park off the minor road along the east side of Glen Feshie at a track junction (or a little way down the track its…