Places to Eat

Aberdeenshire

The Bank, The Square, Huntly

  • Cafe & Restaurant (licensed)
  • Open daily for breakfast, lunch, coffee, and evening meals!
  • Great selection on the menu, lovely staff and a great place to relax enjoy a meal out in cosy warm surroundings!

The Pitstop Tartan Bus (Roy’s Bus), A96, Inverurie

  • Cafe and takeaway
  • Open Wednesday – Saturday 8am-3pm and Sunday 8.30am-3pm
  • They serve a cracking breakfast as well as main meals and snacks.

The Larder Gordon Street, Huntly

This is where I get my lunch from on work days!

  • Takeway
  • Open Monday – Thursday 10am-2pm Friday 10.30am-2pm
  • Amazing range including cakes, pies, savoury pastries, soups and made to order sandwiches
  • Dog Friendly

The Soo’s Lug Main Street, Alford

  • Cafe and takeway
  • Open Friday & Saurday 9am-3pm Sunday 10am-3pm
  • Cracking bacon rolls made with Piggery Smokery bacon and coffee

https://piggery-smokery.co.uk/


The Market Cafe, Huntly Mart, Huntly

  • Cafe
  • Open Tue & Thur 8.30-3pm, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun 8.30-4pm
  • They serve lovely wholesome homemade breakfast, lunch and coffee’s & cakes

Places to Eat

Moray

19 Crepes & Coffee, 19 Batchen Street, Elgin

  • Cafe
  • Open daily Monday – Saturday
  • Amazing sweet and savoury crepes and waffles, breakfasts and coffee

https://19crepescoffee.business.site/


Grampian Hotel, Regent Square, Keith

  • Restaurant, Hotel and Bar
  • Open daily Tuesday – Sunday for breakfast, lunch, afternoon teas and dinners
  • Great pub grub and homemade cakes.
  • Dog Friendly

https://grampianhotelkeith.com/


The Humble Burger, Munro Place, Elgin

  • Takeway
  • Wednesday – Saturday 12pm-3pm & 4.30pm-9pm Sunday 12pm-3pm & 4.30pm-8pm
  • Very tasty range of burgers, fries and burritos

https://www.thehumbleburger.co.uk/


WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre Cafe, Speybay

  • Cafe
  • Lovely soups, sandwiches, cakes and coffee

https://dolphincentre.whales.org/cafe/


Lily’s Kitchen Cafe, Seafield Street, Cullen

  • Cafe
  • Open Tuesday – Saturday 9am-4pm & Sunday 9.30am-4pm
  • Winner of the world Cullen Skink championship they also service breakfast and a good selection of meals, snacks and cakes.

Places to Eat

Highlands and Islands

Oregano Mobile Catering, Banks of the River Ness, Inverness and various other locations.

  • Takeaway
  • Locations and days vary see social media for updates
  • Delicious food served such as macaroni, breakfast rolls, soup, paninis and homebakes

The Seaforth, Quay Street Ullapool

  • Restaurant and fish and chips takeaway.
  • Reopens 27th of February
  • Great range of pub grub and seafood (seafood platter is amazing). Lovely fish and chips served in the takeaway next door.

https://www.theseaforth.com/

Tried and Tested Activities

Paddleboard Lessons at Paddle Bliss

I took a while to decide where to go for a Paddleboard lesson. I considered location, groups sizes and equipment. We was going on holiday and I was taking my board with me but wanted help on self rescues and who I chose didn’t disappoint.

Leanne at Paddle bliss is an amazing teacher her lessons are located at a fantastic place at a Trout Fishery near Nairn. She took her time to show me various self rescues as well as other skills that gave me more confidence in the water. I managed to get out when I was away but of course I didn’t fall in even with the dogs on the board! I will definitely have more lessons this year when the weather improves!

Please go and check out Paddle Bliss for yourself!

https://www.facebook.com/paddleblissnairn

Latest Blog, Places to Stay

Relax and Put you feet up at Barrow Campsite

Starting off my new sections to my website with where I have spent the last 2 weeks. Barrow Campsite is an independent campsite situated in the beautiful countryside only a few miles out of Nairn. It is a relatively new site and ideal you if you want to explore the area or relax and put your feet up.

Onsite you will find a range of hardstanding and grass pitches with a semi wild area camping area. Also a couple glamping pods. In the summer months we usually park on the grass area but in the winter we prefer to have a hardstanding pitch with hookup. The facilities are clean and modern with toilets, showers, a dishwashing and laundry room.

Around the site there is a small kids playpark, it is very dog friendly with fantastic walks and an enclosed area with a good sized pond. I have done a bit of paddleboarding in the pond. There is a fantastic bothy with seating and a bbq area which is a great place to get together or shelter out the rain. Not far from the bothy you will find Hangman hill which is a well preserved bronze age barrow hence the name Barrow Campsite.

Nairn is only 3 1/2 miles away and if you are feeling energetic you could walk or cycle along the quiet country road. The town has a fantastic range of independent shops, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, takeaways and a leisure centre. You also will find a beautiful beach on the Moray Firth with excellent views across the water. If you would like to treat yourself you could book a spa day at the Golf View hotel. There are also excellent public transport links to Inverness.

If you are like us and you want to explore the area there is so much to do within a 10-15 mile drive.

Brodie Castle is around an 8.5 mile drive where you can have a guided tour, explore the grounds and have an excellent play area. Entry fees do apply or free to National trust members.

Cawdor Castle is around a 5 mile drive and open in the summer months. Although we have never visited it is renowned for its beautiful garden and grounds. Entry fees do apply

Fort George is around an 8 mile drive and is the mightist artillery fortification in Britian and was built in the 18th century following the defeat at Culloden. Entry fees do apply or free to Historic Scotland members.

Culloden Battlefield is around a 9 mile drive and it is the site of the bloody battle of the Jacobite rising. Although a very eery it has an excellent visitors centre and a fascinating place to go. Entry fees to the visitors centre do apply or free to National trust members.

Brodie Countryfare is around an 8.5 miles drive and is almost next door to the Castle. This is a fantastic shop to explore their extensive range of clothing, giftware and food range and you can’t leave Brodie without visiting their fantastic restaurant.

Inverness is around a 15 mile drive but if you don’t want to venture into the city there is a large retail park on the outskirts that has a good selection of shops, a cinema and a large supermarket.

This is only a small selection of places to visit that are close by, there are many more plus Barrow is a great start/end point for the fabulous North Coast 500 route.

Barrow gets a thumbs up from us we love it here and it is definitely a home from home!!!

https://www.barrowcampsite.com/https://nairnscotland.co.uk/

https://www.nts.org.uk/

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/

https://nairnscotland.co.uk/https://nairnscotland.co.uk/

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What is in my bucket for 2023…..

This is definitely not a list of New years resolutions that are usually totally unrealistic and you end up feeling even worse cause you have failed to achieve anything. So I have decided that a 2023 bucket list would be a great idea to motivate me and what ever I don’t manage I can roll over 2024 or just simply write off.

This may sound totally selfish but I am starting with myself. Precovid I looked after my skin, I ate sensibly, I went to the gym a few times a week. Covid hit and it all turned into a disaster although I did walk I took more photos then started blogging everything else took a backseat. We are heading to Iceland at the end of March which gives me the perfect target to get myself into a routine and get me fitter again. I have compiled a list of realistic looking after me tasks! Some of it is loosely based on the soft 75 challenge that some of you have maybe seen on social media.

  • Look after my skin by using the tonics, creams and serums that I own and not just treat them like ornaments by dusting them. This takes like 2 mins a day so no excuse.
  • Walk at least 10k steps a day, this used to be so easy but due to changing jobs the only walking that happens is walking the dogs or doing housework. So I just need to make more of an effort if it’s walking to the shop rather than taking the car and staying out longer when I do go out.
  • Use my 2 gym memberships at least 4 times a week so it is worth having both. At least one of the sessions should be swimming.
  • Try to eat healthier by cutting back on sugary snacks and cakes. I don’t want to start calorie counting so I will trial a few weeks so see how much progress I get purely by cutting back.
  • Drink 2 Litres of water or squash a day. This is easy to achieve once I get into the habit.

Where do I want to go in 2023?? We have already booked to go to Iceland but there are plenty of places in Scotland I want to visit too. Some of these places will depend if I achieve some of the first list, some are really easy just places I have not got round to and some I need to speak nicely to Mr C see if he will take me!

Blue Lagoon, Iceland 2016
  • Since I bought my ebike I have always wanted to do the Burma Road trail in Aviemore but just never got round to it so I plan to do this in the Spring. The Burma Road loop is a 42km trail that rises high above Aveimore with views of the Cairngorm national park.
  • I don’t often visit Aberdeen but for so long I have wanted to visit the Winter gardens at Duthie park I thought it was too far to walk from the train station but it turns out it is less than a 3 mile round trip so no excuse really.
  • I would really like to return to Harris and Lewis this year hopefully in the summer holidays but I would like to do some research before hand so we make most of our trip.
  • Not sure if I can achieve this one but I will try – Get closer to completing all the sub 2000 hills in Aberdeenshire, Cairngorms and Moray. I have 21 left of 43 that there are so if I get to 30 I will be doing pretty good.

How do I want to use my brain??? Not only do I want to sort out my fitness I want to use my brain more rather than mindless scrolling I’m wasting so much time on things that have little or no stimulation to my brain or my mental health.

  • I would like to read more which I have already started, I don’t expect miracles as I don’t always have but if I can read a book a month I will be happy. That is only around 15/20 pages a day so can be easily achieved. I will definitely share my reads on my social media and will be looking for recommendations.
  • I would like to write more and expand my website, at least 1 post a month sounds like a good plan but i would like more but best not to put too much pressure on myself.
My first book in long time!

Lastly money which we can’t do much without it. Like most of us I try my best to keep my eyes on my pennies and spend sensibly but sometimes I go rogue and splurge on things I don’t need.

  • How much clothes do I actually need??? Not as much as I have anyway, my plan is to only buy items I need, if I do try my best to shop small businesses online or local. Failing that shop second hand on Vinted, Marketplace, Ebay or charity shops.
  • Make the effort to use the items I have spent my hard earned money on like my Ebike, Camera, 360 Camera and Paddleboard.
  • Be more mindful when food shopping so food items don’t go to waste.
  • Don’t be tempted to buy random stuff on Amazon just cause it looked good on a Tiktok does not mean to say it is good!!!
  • Lastly make sure I am using all my subscriptions like gym memberships, Netflix etc
The Balloch at Sunrise

This is all going to be a work in progress and I add to it as the year goes on, my plan is to update quarterly so my next bucket list instalment will be before I go to Iceland at the end of March. I really hope I have achieved something. I hope this may inspire others to do the same or even give you some ideas or motivation.

By the way I still have not bought a diary and no one gave me one for Christmas but I did get some rather nice notes books that I am sure help along the way!

Latest Blog

2022 is almost over……

I had great expectations for 2022. I bought a fancy new diary and I had great plans to get myself into a better routine,write regular blog posts, lose some weight and just be the best version of myself. Little did I know what was ahead of me!!!!

We started 2022 coming home from an amazing relaxing holiday in our favourite campsite in Skye and was all set to go back to work I was all prepared to get back to the gym and get myself sorted out.

But my life was turned upside down when my mum was taken to hospital the day I was going back to work. The next couple months were spent juggling work and hospital visits she did get home for a little while but sadly at the start of March my mum passed away.

After she passed I went back to work quite soon after I did not want to stay at home and overthink. But then if things could not get any worse after 2 years avoiding it I got covid!!! So that was the first quarter of the year gone and not a single thing had been written in my diary.

Cullen from Castle hill

Spring came and the fuel costs were rising so I spent my days off exploring my local area being careful not to go too far. Moray and Aberdeenshire has some amazing picturestic places to visit many with fantastic well marked paths. So I don’t need to travel far to find some great places.

Roseisle
Ullapool

We did manage a few weekends away to Ullapool, Nairn and the bike racing at Knockhill. We were truly blessed with some amazing weather which definitely helped my mood. I kind of failed to make any contact with my friends and avoided all social events in fear of people asking if I am ok. I must admit my husband has been a complete rock through the tough times.

Knockhill

Almost half way through the year had I written in my diary, stuck to a diet or went to the gym??? The simple answer was no. I did try to get motivated but my head was not in it. Instead I decided to try something new. One day we were sitting in Cullen beach carpark watching folk out paddleboarding I thought I would like to do that! By the time we were home I had ordered a board and a wetsuit. Which was one of my better ideas. Why? Because when you’re on that board all you think about is not falling off nothing else matters.

In June we went to Glencoe and we had some amazing weather so much so I did some wild swimming at the natural pool at Red Squirrel campsite which I loved.

We had such a great weekend soaking up the much needed vitamin D. I think it was the first weekend I had really enjoyed myself but I felt guilty afterwards. Looking back I should not ever have felt like that but grief does funny things to you.

Glencoe

Summer was spent exploring, we had several weekends in Nairn so I could paddleboard on the pond and went along to Paddlebliss for a lesson which was totally out my comfort zone and I had a amazing time. I also ventured further afield to Loch Inch one day to explore parts I had never been.

Cairngorms

I even managed to drag my friend Gem up Ben Aigan even though she hated me when I said we were nearly at the top several times we made it eventually!

Ben Aigan with Gem

Our Summer Holidays could not come quick enough I organised them like a military operation between campsites and ferries. Visiting some of our favourite places as well as exploring some new ones. Paddleboarding and wild swimming at Arisaig was one of my highlights.

Paddleboarding at Arisaig

Portavadie was our little bit of luxury.

Infinity pool at Portavadie

Mull and Iona were just simply amazing.

Iona
Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Summer sadly came to an end and we went back to work but no sooner we were back to than we ended up in Aberfeldy for a weekend with a bunch of folk we mostly only ever spoke to on Facebook. We went kayaking down the Tay which was bloody amazing. We were so proud of ourselves that day.

Kayaking on the Tay

Autumn fast approached and finally after so long we decided for our wedding anniversary we would head to Falkirk and Stirling. We wanted to go to the Kelpies and the Falkirk wheel for ages but just never quite got there. They did not disappoint the Kelpies were amazing.

The Kelpies

No one ever actually told me what the Falkirk wheel was. I actually thought it was some kind of hydro electric making type contraption, so when I got on the wee boat for the tour I was totally amazed. I would put it in my top 10 places to visit in Scotland.

Falkirk Wheel

Through most of the summer and autumn I had been suffering from regular sore heads which I had actually thought I just needed new glasses but that did not help. I did finally go to the doctors in October but I actually started back at the gym and pool at the same time, wow the headaches just disappeared. So removing some screen time and destressing at the gym was the best medicine, which I kind of already knew but putting things into practice is not always that easy.

Cullen at Sunrise

I caught a couple of amazing sunrises in November. We also managed to get away a few times spending a night in Findhorn and took to run to Edinburgh one day so we stopped in past the Hermitage,Dunkeld on the way down and spent a night in Aviemore on the way home.

Findhorn
The Hermitage
Loch an Eilein

December finally arrived which filled me with dread so we decided we would go away for Christmas and just chill out, watch Netflix and enjoy our time off. So no plans have been made to visit anywhere or do anything. This will be my first Christmas without my mum and honestly I still can’t quite believe she is no longer here and this is just a bad dream.

With only 11 days of 2022 left have I written in my posh diary???? Have I hell!!! Have I lost any weight???? Not a single pound!!! But I have not wasted the year we have had lots of good times, I have tried some new things. It certainly has not turned out the way I thought but life is too short and it is time to write my 2023 bucket list!

Am I buying a 2023 diary??? No I don’t think I will bother!!!!

2023 Bucket list coming soon…………..

Places to Walk

Ben Aigan and Knockmore Circuit

This fantastic hike not only takes along a walk in the woods you will also experience some amazing views right out to the coast and the River Spey. Passing by the Knockmore tv mast before coming to the summit of Ben Aigan with 360 degree views of Moray.

Distance: 7 1/2 miles Time: 3 1/2-4hrs Level: Easy long walk with elevation. Terrain: Forrest track and paths some can be uneven Access: Arrive by car, from Keith at Mulben cross road take a and head towards Craigellachie about 1 1/4miles along the road there is a opening on the right. Turn into the opening and head up the track ignore the turn to the right. After a short time you will come to a carpark for about 6 cars at the left.

Route: Leaving the car park head to the forestry road to the left after about 3/4 a miles the road bends to the left and you will head further into the woods. The road will climb steadily. Don’t forget to look back and admire the views.

The Knockmore mast will come into view on your left before finally reaching it around 2 miles in to your walk.

Once you are past the mast carry on along the forestry track you will go down hill for a short time before it starts to climb again. You will come to a large cleared area and shortly after there is a track to the left ignore it and keep on the track.

About 3/4 mile along this section you will find a fantastic view of the River Spey and if you look hard enough you will see the Boat a Brig.

Shortly after there is a junction with a narrow path to the uphill to the left and downhill to the right. Take the path to the left. This is a short but steep section but you will soon come out the trees as you head to the summit.

You will come to a fork, take the fork to the right which will take you right up to the summit where you will find the square trig point.

After you have enjoyed the views head back down the path you came. When you come to the junction take the turn to the right. You will come to another junction take the track to the left here.

Head down the track and you will return to the cleared area. You will see a firebreak in the trees to the right. Head down the path in the firebreak. You will need to climb over a fallen tree. At the bottom of the track turn to the right and return to the carpark.

Places to Walk

Portsoy and Sandend circular

This beautiful walk takes in the old harbour that dates back to 1693 that has been recently used for a film set for Peaky Blinders and Whisky Galore. You will explore the coastal path that runs along past the cliffs between Portsoy and Sandend with many paths that branch to do yuor own exploring before arriving at the stunning Sandend beach and returning along a quiet country lane with coastal views.

Distance: 5 miles Time: 2hrs Level: Easy with some elevation Terrain: Tarred road, pavements, coastal trail paths and beach Access: Arrive by car, there is plenty of parking avalible in the The Square, Portsoy, AB45 2NX The No35 service bus runs between Elgin and Aberdeen and drops off on Seafield Street only a short walk along South High Street to the start of the walk.

Route: At the square head down North High Street past the Boyne Hotel till you come to the Old Harbour. This is a great chance to have a look around with some fabulous photo opportunities. Head over to the left of the harbour where you will find the stunning bottlenose dolphin statue that was made by local artist Carn Standing.

Next to the statue you will find the ruined remains of a cottage that has a lovely view out the window.

To the left of the ruin there is a narrow path where you can skirt round the wee hill or go up the top to get a great view of Portsoy.

Carry down the narrow path which will take you to a small yard, follow the path towards the houses where you will find a waymarker post for the coastal trail.

The path will skirt past the houses till you finally leave Portsoy and into the countryside.

Not long after you leave the town, Portsoy Lido the disused outdoor pool will come into view. The lido was opened in 1936 and was in use until it closed in 2001.

Just after the Lido there is a short stretch on a narrow country lane so be careful there maybe cars here.

The very well-marked path carries on along the coastline with plenty of paths off to the side if you are keen to look for seabirds along the cliffs. You will reach Redhythe Point where there are remains of a building which would have been part of a WW2 rifle range that was once there.

After Redhythe Point the coastal path winds along the edge of the cliffs you can choose to stick to the main path or explore the narrower paths closer to the shoreline. You will come to a grassy track with heather at each side on the left in the not too far distance you will see a vehicle barrier (that is your return route).

Turn right to pass the bay with the ruined house.

Once past the small bay you will come to a gate. go through it and down the steep path and on to the steps to Sandend beach.

At the end of the beach you will find a WW2 pillbox along with other remains from the war which can be found in several areas around Aberdeenshire and Moray.

You could stop for a picnic here and walk along the beautiful sandy beach or even explore Sandend more before returning back up the steps and the steep path and through the gate. Once past the small bay head to the right towards the vehicle barrier. Once past the barrier head straight on past the big house on your right.

Continue straight along the country lane. You will have some great views of the coast and Portsoy as you are walking back. Once you arrive in Portsoy you will go along the street named Park Crescent which then goes on Cullen Street before heading straight back to the square where you began. There are some lovely wee shops and cafes in Portsoy if you have plenty of time they are worth a look.

Places to Walk

Clashmach Hill Huntly

The Clashmach hill is a great short hill walk from the centre of the town of Huntly which has a beautiful glow of yellow in the Spring from the gorse that covers it. At the summit you will be treated to amazing views of Huntly and beyond. Although it is a relatively short walk it is a vigorous climb. There is a annual race up and down the hill in July and I believe the fastest time was under 24 mins in 2021.

Distance: 4.5 miles Time : 1.5 to 2 hrs Terrain: Mix of pavement, road and rougher path, sometimes slightly over ground in the summer but well-trodden. Level: Easy with some elevation and a little steep on some parts. Access: Arrive by car or public transport. There are good train and bus links between Aberdeen and Inverness. Car parking is available at the Market Muir car park AB54 8JY.

Route: The walk starts at the Market Muir car park. As you leave the car park take a right heading towards the roundabout. When you get to the roundabout keep to the right and carefully cross the A96 and head for the opening for the minor road. Pass by The Mart & Market cafe on your right and AM Philips on your left.

Head straight up passing the bungalow on your left. The road narrows and becomes a path and after a short time takes a sharp left. Continue along the path where it will take another left turn and head up the hill. You will pass a wind turbine along the way.

Keep heading straight on and go through the gate. You will will come to a second gate once through it walk up the path that heads to the left.

Soon you will see the trig point and cairn. You can admire the 360 degree views of Huntly and the hills around including Ben Rinnes.

Don’t forget to take a selfie at the summit before retracing your steps and enjoying the views on the way back down.

On a calm day the summit is a great spot for a picnic or you could stop off at The Market Cafe for coffee and cake.