Latest Blog, Moray Walks, Places to Walk

The Intake and Canal Fochabers

This is a beautiful trail that not only takes you along a section of the River Spey it gives you a chance to see the remains of a very interesting hydro scheme that was way ahead of its time dating back to the early 20th century, the initiative came from the Duke of Richmond and Gordon who for some years envisaged his Castle being lit by electricity.

Paved area with rockery at each side with 2 large stones and view of the river spey in front
View of the River Spey

Distance: 2 ¾ miles Time: 1hr Level: Easy low-level walk Terrain: Well walked woodland paths with some tarred and pavement walking. Access: Arrive by car, parking is available at the Speyside Way car park opposite the opening of Gordon Castle at IV32 7EH. There are also good bus links from Stagecoach with a stop near the start of the walk.

Route: At the car park take a left and head towards the memorial gardens where you get an amazing, framed view of the River Spey. To the left you will see some steps, go down them and follow the path along. There is a small opening if you want to get a good view of the fish ladder. Back on the path go over the footbridge at the fish ladder you will see the signpost to the Intake.

Footbridge over the ford, with trees and sun shining through
Footbridge at the salmon ladder

Once over the footbridge you will pass some big houses, then there is a fork in the road, take the right fork towards the wooded area. Once on the wood track you will see a wayward marker post, just after you pass it take the opening to the right on the narrower path. This is where you will first see the derelict canal. The path can be quite uneven here and wet but well worth walking and getting dubby boots for.

Old canal filled with leaves and debris
Old canal

Keep on this path, it will eventually come to the edge of the river where you will get some great views of Ben Aigan in the distance. Follow the path right along the river and you will come to some steps and a bench. This is a great place to stop for a picnic and do some bird spotting on the river.

Small set of steps with grass area and view of the river
Just at the intake

Just beyond the bench you will see a wee opening and a little overgrown path where you will find an information board and the intake where the water came in to power the scheme. You still see the grid that was put there to keep fish and debris out. The water ran along the lade (known as the ‘Canal’) to the power station to drive the turbines to produce the electricity.

Head back to the bench there is a path at the right that will take you along beside the edge of the canal. Keep your eyes peeled along here as there are several scrap cars buried in the undergrowth in the canal which were dumped many years ago. Keep on the same path it will take you back to the wayward marker post where you turned off.

Scrap cars in the undergrowth
Scarp cars

Once back on to the tarred road, at the fork keep right, when you get to the shed at the end of the road turn right on to West St. Halfway along you will see a waterfall on the Burn of Fochabers and a wooden foot bridge running over it. Go over the bridge then take the next left on to George St. This will take you to Fochabers Square. On the other side of the road opposite the fountain you will see a large streetlamp that commemorates the opening of the scheme. Which is a great way to finish the walk.

From the square you can just go along the High St past the traffic lights and bowling green and you will return to the carpark. There are a few cafes on the High St and a lovely ice-cream shop if you fancy some refreshments after your adventure.

Large old light with fountain and town clock in Fochabers Square
The Square Fochabers

Latest Blog, Moray Walks, Places to Walk

Den, Dunnyduff woods and the Falls of Tarnash

The route takes you through the Den woods, the Falls of Tarnash then on to Dunnyduff woods with a great viewpoint of Keith.

Distance: 3.5 miles Time: 1.5-2 hours Level: Easy with some elevation Terrain: Some pavement walking at start and finish and well-trodden wood paths. Be careful, as round the falls can be slippery when wet. Access: Arrive by car or public transport. Good train and bus links between Aberdeen and Inverness.Parking available at Reidhaven Square, Keith AB55 5AB

Route: The walk starts in Reidhaven Square where you head down toward the building in the middle (what used to be the public toilets/bus shelter)then take a right when you get on to Moss Street.Walk along to the end and at the last house carefully cross the road – it can be busy.

Forest track with trees at each side
Track through Den woods

Walk round the right of Dusty’s customs shop and you will see Old Den Road to the right lined with trees. Start walking along there till you pass the last house (Innesfree) and up to the left you will see the path on the left to take you in to the Den woods.

Follow this path right through the woods for about ¾ mile. Please note if you have a dog and they are off the lead there is a section that is close to the road.

Small waterfall with small burn
Falls of Tarnash

You will come to a signpost to the right for Falls of Tarnash and Dunnyduff woods. Take this path going over the wee steen bridge and keep going and you will soon come to the Falls. Make sure you explore a bit round here and take plenty of photos on a nice day as it’s a lovely spot for a picnic and even a paddle.

Wood track with handrail in the woods
On the way to Dunnyduff

Get back on to the path and there is a sign post up to the left to Dunnyduff woods. There is a wee bit of elevation here but nothing too taxing.

Follow the path which does zig zag a little and keep in the path where you will come to a wee bridge with a handrail. Go straight on here and there is another wee bridge with a handrail: just keep going over the wee bridge following the well-made path. You will come to a bit of clearing where there is a great viewpoint of Keith and Newmill to the left.

View area with bench trees at each side.
Viewing area

The path continues and you will eventually come to steps to descend till you reach a forestry track take a left here. You will come through the carpark and on to the minor road.

Here you can take a left and follow the minor road back or just across the road from the carpark there is an opening and a path that runs alongside the Burn of Drum. This path can be very overgrown in the summer but it’s a great place to see wildlife such as red squirrel and birds as well as lots of wildflowers. I also spotted a buzzard along here too.

Whatever way you decide to go you will come to a bridge to go over and you head up the road till you come to a junction. Take a right here on to Edindiach Road heading back in to Keith. The road turns to the left on to Balloch Road and you will see the square ahead and the end of the walk.

Latest Blog, Moray Walks, Places to Walk

Walk to the Jean Carr’s Stone

This is a interesting and possible slighty creepy place to visit near Fochabers! Details of the stone below is from the information board at the stone!

Information board surrounded by trees with stone in the distance
Jean Carr stone information board.

The stone is a large conglomerate boulder left from the ice age I million years ago and has probably lain here more or less unnoticed until the arrival of Jean Carr in the 18th century.

The story goes, although only pieces remain, that a young girl named Jean Carr was, to quote a sentence from old records, “Fan she wis a lassie, she was chained in the hoose by her father, an fan he dee’t, Jean said there wis two prisoners relieved.”

After this she fled, took to the open road and led the life of a gypsy, becoming a familiar figure in the area between Banff and Fochabers.

She led this happy life under the stars until the birth of her child. The local authorities snatched the child and housed it for safety with the village nurse. In an attempt to recover the child Jean tore at the thatched roof of the nurse’s home, only to be arrested and put in jail. After this incident the child was never seen again and Jean, now childless took to helping herself to other people’s, becoming a known nuisance in the local towns. At night Jean would seek the shelter of the great rock.

Large stone surrounded by trees
Jean Carr stone

“Lock up your bairns, Jean Carr’s in toon!” was the cry when she descended on Fochabers!

Some time later it was announced in a local paper that her son had died and Jean’s life was never the same again. At nights she would be seen disappearing in to the countryside and for many years took refuge under this stone. She was still seen wandering the byways as an old frail woman until one morning she was found, wrapped in her tattered shawl, lying in her favourite place under the ancient friendly rock cold and dead.

Distance: 2 1/4 miles Time: 1-1 1/2hrs Level: Easy with elevation Terrain: Forrest road and woodland track. Access: From Fochabers turn left at the chipshop and keep going out of town for approx 1 1/2miles. Just before you come to the Earthpillars car park on the right take the track on the left. Drive up past the opening to the house on the right till you come to a small carpark and gate into the Ordiequish woods. Click for google map link!

Route: Leaving the carpark head through the gate and start your walk on the forestry road. Just over half a mile in the road will take a turn to the left and shortly after you will come to a junction take a left here.

Wood track with trees at each side with dog running

The road will ascend straight uphill at around a mile you will pass two openings at the right before you will see an opening to the left and a narrow path. Take this path and you will soon see the information board and the stone. It’s hard to believe Jean would hike away up here but we all have that one place we love to visit!

Small path surrounded by trees
Path to the stone

Return by retracing your steps back to the carpark. There is a circuit but due to recent storms I decided that it was best not to carry on in case of falling trees.

1 black cocker spaniel and 1 brown and white cocker spaniel standing on top of stone surrounded by trees
Dixy and Suzi
Latest Blog, Moray Walks, Places to Walk

The Bin of Cullen

When you think of going to Cullen for a walk you usually think of the stunning beach of The Three Kings. But just a couple miles out of Cullen is the lovely wee hill called the Bin of Cullen a little bit different from a beach walk but still very enjoyable!

There is a maze of paths and tracks all over the Bin, this route takes you to the summit of the Bin of Cullen with fantastic views of Cullen, Buckie and right along the coastline to Spey Bay. On a very clear day the hills of the Black Isle can be seen clearly in the distance. It is a very family friendly hill that is lovely all year round.

Distance: 3.5 miles Time: 1.5-2 hours Level: Easy with some elevation Terrain: Well-trodden forestry track. The path is suitable for an off-road buggy. Access: Arrive by car. To reach the start of the walk from Cullen follow the B9018 towards Deskford for around 2 miles then turn right up the road marked Hill of Maud. Just over a mile along the road on the right-hand side you will see a gated entrance marked Seafield Estate. There is parking for several cars just at the entrance of the walk, please be mindful 38 when parking not to block the gate.

Woodland track with trees at each side
Track at the start of the walk

Route: Once parked go round the gate and follow the main forestry track, it does go downhill initially.Ignore the track to the right. After a short distance you will come to a small bridge over the Glen Burn. Once over the bridge there is a junction, take the track to the left which leads you through the Scots pine plantation.

The track will gradually ascend. Keep a look out for the rope swing to your right, a great place to stop for kids but I am sure some adults will not be able resist a go too.

Bridge over burn with lots of greenery
Small bridge over burn

After the rope swing further up the track there is another junction. Take a left here. Keep on this track ignoring the one to the right a little bit further on. As you reach the summit there are several narrow rough tracks, avoid them as theyare used by mountain bikers descending the summit.

Wild pink flower
Wild flower

Keep your eyes peeled for breaks in the trees where you get great views of the surrounding countryside. Once out of the trees the track continues zigzagging till you reach the summit with a carpet of heather at each side. When the top is reached and you find the cairn and trig point it is time to enjoy the fabulous coastal views. There is enough room at the summit if you want to have a picnic or to just sit, enjoy the views and take some photos.

View of coast line with trees at each side
View of the coast

The return route is simply retracing your steps.You will get another chance to enjoy the walk in the woods. Keep a look out for pine marten, red squirrel and crossbills. I wasn’t lucky enough to see any furry friends,. There is also an abundance of wild flowers and fungi which I did manage to photograph. As the seasons change there is always something new to spot.

View of Cullen and the Moray firth
Cullen from the summit!

Latest Blog, Moray Walks, Places to Walk

Forres Mosset Walk

Great circular walks are sometimes not so easy to access if you are using public transport so after a wee bit of research, I found this cracker that takes in so many interesting, historical, beautiful places within a relatively small area.

Distance: 4 miles Time: 2 hrs Level: Easy with some elevation Terrain: Pavements and woodland tracks Access: Arrive by car parking is available at Grant Park IN36 1BG. There is a regular No10 Stagecoach bus that runs between Aberdeen and Inverness with a bus stop nearby. Forres also has a regular train between Aberdeen and Inverness, the station is a short walk from the start.

Route : Arriving at Grant Park there is a spacious car park with toilets which is always a bonus. Start the walk just at the information board where you will find a map of the various walks in the area. As you leave the car park via the main opening turn right and head along the street.

Large stone in glass case
Sueno’s Stone

After a short distance you will see the signs for the Sueno’s stone. Cross the road here and go straight on towards the stone. Sueno’s stone stands at an impressive seven metres tall and thought to be carved around mid 800s AD and early 900s AD. The stone has a fantastic information board where you can find out more.

Leaving the stone head back then turn right on to Croft Road. You will start to find the waymark posts which will guide you along the way. Before Croft road curves to left you will see your next waymark that takes you along a track to the right and through a gate. Careful here as you will have to cross the main road.

Wood Carved owl on the path
Carved owl

Once you cross the road you will find a track that takes you along past the railway line, here you will find some fantastic carved wooden sculptures make sure you spot them all. When Benromach distillery comes into view on your right, you will turn left and cross back over the main road but there is a wee island here in case the road is busy.

Grass area next to a pond with ducks swimming
Mosset Pond

Here the marker post will take you along past the Mosset pond, which is beautiful and full of paddling ducks. Once you come to the end of the pond, cross the road and take the road to the right and head towards the war memorial. There is a nice path that runs alongside the Burn of Mosset.

Waterfall with swan swimming on loch
Sanquhar waterfall

At the Orchard Road cross over the bridge and carry on along the path next to the burn. The road will turn right along past Forres Academy. Just after the academy take a right turn and carry on till you get to Sanquhar Loch, here you will find the beautiful waterfall.

Take the path to the left of the waterfall which takes you on a peaceful stroll through the woods. Once out of the woods, cross over the road and on to the road opposite. This road is very well marked for Nelson’s tower. Once you skirt past the cemetery the path will climb up and will shortly reach the magnificent tower.

Large tower with green door next to trees
Nelson’s Tower

Nelson’s Tower was erected by public subscription. The foundation stone was laid in 1806 by James Brodie of Brodie and was completed in 1810. It is open in the summer months, and you climb to the top and admire the beautiful coastal views over Findhorn.

Beautiful sunken garden with fountain and autumn coloured bushes
Grant Park gardens

Once you have enjoyed the views and explored the tower area. Return on the same path till you come to the fork, take the right fork down towards Grant Park. You are only a short distance from where you started but before returning make sure you explore the beautiful gardens, and you could even venture up the High Street and check out the fantastic range of independent shops and cafes that Forres has to offer.

Aberdeenshire Walks, Latest Blog, Places to Walk

Walk to Findlater Castle

Findlater is a ruined castle in Aberdeenshire and only a couple miles from Cullen. It is the old seat of the Earls of Findlater and Seafield, sitting on a 50 foot-high cliff overlooking the Moray Firth.

Distance: 1 mile Time: 1hr Level: Easy but may be more difficult if the path is muddy some elevation. Terrain: Grass track and narrow possibly muddy path. Access: Arrive by car heading east from Cullen on the A98 turn left up road sign posted to Findlater Castle. The road takes a sharp corner to the right then take the next left after the first house. Take a left at the house and there is parking round the back of the large barns. Postcode is AB45 2UD. Please keep dogs on leads at all time.

Route: Once parked take the track to the right past the back of the barns. The track will turn left, keep going till you come to the junction.

Round Doocot or Dovecot next to a ploughed field
Findlater Doocot

You can take a left at the junction to head along to the Findlater Doocot or head straight on to the Castle.

View of ruined castle in the cliffs with beach to left hand side
Findlater Castle from view point

There is a fab viewing area which if you don’t want to go any further you can get a great view and some cracking photos.

Castle ruins with sea to left hand side

Carefully take the path down to watching where you walk and explore the area.

Door way of ruined castle with coastal view

Why don’t you finish off with a visit to the stoney beach to the side for the full Findlater experience.

View of castle from the beach
Findlater from the beach
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Gateway to an adventure at Dalraddy!

We had not been to Dalraddy Holiday Park for a really long time so we thought we would try it out again. The campsite is located just a few miles from Aviemore with lots of activities on and off site.

Camper van and bike parked up at campsite
Our Pitch

The site itself is large with chalets, residential caravans, seasonal & touring pitches as well as tent pitches. Around the site there is a main toilet block with showers, dishwashing and laundry. There is a smaller shower block as well as other small toilet blocks. At the reception you can find a small shop stocking the essentials. There is a great play park for the kids and an abundance of picnic benches. If you are in a group there is a fantastic bbq area if you want to get everyone together.

Old red tractor with train like trailer
Alvie Tractor Train

At the entrance of the site you will find Alvie Forest Food a fantastic food van with beautifully prepared dishes and a recent addition of a coffee cart called Cabin coffee. Quad biking treks are available to book at the gate there are plenty of other activities and it is worth checking out the Alvie Estate website for something that suits you.

Food trailer
Alvie Forest Foods

For me Dalraddy is a great place to get walking and biking. There is a fantastic walk to the Duke of Gordon Monument. You can walk/cycle along the Speyside way. We headed to Kincraig and Loch Insh and got a pint at the Boathouse before heading back.

Large monument with trees and blue skies
Duke of Gordon Monument

If you would like to explore the area there is plenty to do within a 10-15 mile drive.

Highland Wildlife park is around 5 miles away. At the park you can drive through the reserve and see the polar bears, snow leopards, amur tigers and many other animals then visit the wildlife discovery centre. Entry fees do apply.

Loch Insh Outdoor Centre is around 3 1/2 miles. Where you find a large selection of watersports as well as tubing, skating and archery. Prices vary depending on activity.

Large building with balcony next to a loch and blue skies
Loch Insh

Cairngorm Mountain Railway is around 12 miles away. The railway has only just reopened after being closed for some time. You don’t have to take part in snowsports to go up the railway you can just take a trip up to enjoy the views and have coffee and cake at The Ptarmigan restaurant. Return tickets can be purchased at Cairngorm Mountain resort.

Snow covered mountains
Cairngorm Mountain looking down to the Ptarmigan restaurant!

Strathspey Steam Railway is only 4 miles away at Aviemore and is a fantastic day out for everyone including your dogs. You are taking along the line from Aviemore to Broomhill and return in a beautiful steam locomotive. There is an option to enjoy a light lunch or afternoon tea along the way. Booking available online or at the station.

Steam train on track
Strathspey Steam Railway

This is only a very small selection of activities available!

Dalraddy is a great site to visit with everything you need and so much to do just on your doorstep!

https://www.campinginaviemore.co.uk/

https://www.visitcairngorms.com/

Highlands Walks, Latest Blog, Places to Walk

Walk to the Duke of Gordon Monument near Aviemore

This is a stunning walk with epic views of the Cairngorm’s. Great walk if you want just a wee hill to climb rather than a munro!

Distance: Around 3.75 miles Time: 1 1/2-2hrs Level: Easy with some steep sections Terrain: Well maintained path, tar, grass track and woodland track. Access: Arrive by car parking at the entrance to Dalraddy campsite PH22 1QB.

Route: Starting in the carpark go to your left through the quad bike area and head under the railway bridge. Take a left after the bridge and head through the gate. Keep going till you reach the junction take a right here and head along the tarred road.

Track with trees at each side and the sun shining through the trees

You will reach a fork in the road take the left hand track. Go up the track till you reach the gate and the grass park. Follow the path to the left edge of the park till you reach the opening on your left and the track that takes you in to the woods.

Track with view of mountain and blues skies
Looking back at the opening

Follow the track till you reach the fork. Take the left fork here and continue straight on. Keep a look out for the Waterloo cairn to your right that is worth stopping at. The cairn was erected by Marquis of Huntly, August 11, 1815 in memory of Robert Macara of 42nd Royal Highlanders, also Of Col. John Cameron of 92nd or Gordon Highlanders and their brave countrymen who glorious fell at the battle of Waterloo June 1815.

Large cairn with arch and plaque
The Waterloo Cairn

Not long after the Waterloo cairn the monument will come in to view. The track does go down hill a little before climbing back up.

Large monument with fence all around
The Duke of Gordon Monument

The track winds its way through the trees till you come to the Duke of Gordon Monument that commemorates the last Duke of Gordon who died in 1836. Once you have explored the area you return the way you came taking in the beautiful views.

View of the cairngorm mountains with sun shining
Cairngorms
Highlands Walks, Latest Blog, Places to Walk

Ullapool Hill Circuit

I ventured a wee bit further afield for a change, to Ullapool which we visit on a regular basis. Ullapool is on the North Coast 500 route and is one of the larger towns in North West Scotland with a busy ferry port and harbour. There is a great selection of places to eat and stay. Overlooking Ullapool is a hill called Cnoc na Croiche also known as Ullapool Hill which is a short but steep climb with very rewarding views.

Distance: 2.25 miles Time: 1hr Level: Easy with some steep parts. Terrain: Mix of pavements, well walked paths and uneven paths. Access: Arrive by car, parking is available in the long stay car park beside Tesco IV26 2XB. There is a regular stagecoach bus from 42 Inverness

Route: I am starting my route from the harbour on Shore Street in the centre of Ullapool. Cross the road at the boat trip and bike hire cabins and head up Quay Street past the Fish and Chip shop, try and resist the smell that is guaranteed to make you hungry. Take the third road on the right called Market Street and follow it to the end, before turning left and heading up Mill Road.

Harbour with boats beached on the left with reflection of clouds on water
Ullapool harbour

On your right, just after you have passed Highland Stoneware and Broom Court, you will see a gate and a signpost for Ullapool Hill. Go through the gate and you will start the short steep climb, but there are plenty of benches to stop and catch your breath. You will pass a path to your right, ignore it, but not long after you will take a turn to the left and you will head further up the hill.

Narrow track with yellow gorse bushes at each side
Path on Ullapool hill

You will come to a bench with a path on the left and one behind, take the path behind the bench. The path becomes rougher so watch your step. You will see a pile of stones to the right but keep going along the path till you reach a slightly overgrown viewpoint stone, although the views are great here they are better further along the route.

1 black and 1 white and brown cocker spaniels next to cairn

Just past the pile of stones that is to your left, the path will become rougher again and you will need to watch your step to get you down to the bench, where in my opinion you get the best views of Ullapool and Lochbroom.

View of Ullapool, loch broom with mountains behind
View of Ullapool

If it isn’t windy this is also a great spot to stop for a snack and wee rest before you head back down the hill. If you time it right with the ferry times, you may see it coming in or leaving, or if you are really lucky, you may even see one of the cruise ships that visit Ullapool.

You will see a rough path to the right, take it and it very soon returns you to the bench before the viewpoint. Take a left here and head back down the path.

Take the path on the left just beside the viewpoint, this will take you to the best view.

Keep going back down the track, a little after the left turn in the path you will see an opening that takes you down to a wooden bridge. Once over the footbridge you carry on descending till houses come into view and you come to a gate. Once through the gate follow the road and you will quickly find yourself at the back of The Royal Hotel on Shore Street.

Ullapool harbour with large and small boats
Ullapool harbour

I would recommend crossing the road here to admire the boats in the harbour. It is a great chance to get some more lovely photos before returning to your starting point and time for a well-earned Fish and Chips.

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My Favourite Winter Jacket

Photo of me wearing a Ryde poncho in the snow

You know when you see something and you have to have it!!!! This was me when I first saw it and it totally did not disappoint! It has everything I need. It is around knee length on me I am 5ft 4. There is a huge front pocket which is ideal for the dogs lead and 2 side pockets both with zips. The jacket is waterproof and cosy fleece lined and the sleeves turn into mittens. I purchased a size small and I am around a size 12.

The brand itself is called RYDE from North West England and are a small team passionate about all things outdoors.

I am affiliated with the brand which means I can offer you an order code TRACYGOESOUTSIDE which will give you a 15% discount on your order.

Go check out RYDE for yourself https://ryde.store/