There are few areas of Scotland that offer such a wide and interesting range of attractions and historical interests as Moray and the north-eastern coast of Scotland.
Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
The dark skies of the north-east in the winter months are a perfect backdrop for the Aurora Borealis, a phenomenon of coloured light, rippling through the sky like a giant theatrical backdrop.
The longer, darker nights between October and March are best and they typically show up between 9pm and midnight.
This magical sight is fairly rare, even in the north, but if you have the right app, and can stand in the cold for long enough, you’ll be rewarded with one of the best sights you’ll ever see.
Sometimes called the Northern Lights, because they appear in the north, and sometimes called the Merry Dancers, because of their gracious, rippling movement, the Aurora Borealis is caused by electrically charged particles from space entering the Earth’s upper atmosphere at a very high speed.
And the Moray Coast is one of the best places to experience it. The 50-mile stretch of north-facing coast is the perfect blank canvas on which the dancers can perform. The beach stretching from Findhorn to Burghead is ideal, as it is completely devoid of light pollution, and if you are a photographer, you can find places to step back inland and get some foreground.
It is pure magic, and people do wait all their lives to see it. Get more information from AuroraWatchUK, and search your app store for ‘Aurora’.
Moray has more than 50 whisky distilleries and the Speyside region has more distilleries than any other part of Scotland. Or the the world for that matter!
Forres has two other distilleries not on the trail Dallas Dhu which is now no longer producing whisky, and exists as a museum and visitor centre demonstrating production techniques at the distiller since 1900.
And Glenburgie, which was also closed down in 2000, but was rebuilt and owned by the Pernod Ricard group, producing such brands as Ballantine’s and Old Smuggler.
Local hotels, bars and restaurants, as you can imagine, have extensive collections of Speyside malts.
The local area is steeped in history dating back to pre-historic times. Perhaps the most notable historical landmark is the 22-foot carved Pictish stone, the tallest in the country, with detailed carving on all four sides.
For those of you that know your Shakespeare, Forres is mentioned in Macbeth. Before he became king of Scotland in 1040 he ruled over Moray from his castle in the town. The stronghold was originally sited at the west end of Forres high street known as Castlehill.
The Moray Coast
The Moray Coast is one of world-class beauty. In fact, it has been voted one of the top 12 coastlines of the world by National Geographic magazine.
An uninterrupted sandy beach stretches from Findhorn Bay to Burghead, and although popular with locals, it is so large you can find your own space every time you go.
The coastal waters are abundant with wildlife and you can regularly see bottlenose dolphins, porpoises, whales, sea birds and seals. North 58 Sea Adventures operate sight-seeing boat tours from Findhorn Marina, and these provide the perfect viewing platform for wildlife lovers, The local guides know the coastline well and take you right into the places where you are most likely to see marine wildlife.
If you like the feel of an adrenaline rush, then you’ll find a local activity centre has all you need to keep the blood pumping through your veins.
Ace Adventure & Hideaways in Dunphail offer an amazing selection of things to do, such as whitewater rafting, paintball and disc golf. As well as offering camping facilities such as wigwams and bell tents.
If golf is your thing, then there are two fine golf courses in the area. There is no better place than the Moray Coast to enjoy spectacular round with pleasantly challenging courses and stunning scenery.
Forres Golf Club has hosted the Scottish Professional Championships, the Northern Open and the Scottish Young Professionals Championships.
A few miles down the road, you’ll find the Kinloss Country Golf Club, a nine-hole layout that will provide a testing challenge for golfers at all levels. This course has stunning views over the Moray Firth towards the Black Isle.
Forres Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre
If you prefer your water-based activities under cover, then Forres has a lovely heated swimming pool and fitness centre right in the town.
As well as the swimming pool, there is also a fitness room with cardio and weight training equipment, sauna, steam-room and showers.
The world-famous Findhorn Foundation is a spiritual ecovillage community. The foundation attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world and provides a range of workshops and events.
Visitors are encouraged to take a tour of the village and hear how the community began (schools and groups by prior arrangement through the visitor centre), and spend some time sampling community life.
There are plenty of interesting things to discover and you can buy a visitor guide and take a self-guided tour. These are available from the Phoenix Shop which is near the entrance to the park.
The Universal Hall is situated within the park and holds many events. The auditorium is primarily used for music, drama and dance and makes a fabulous conference venue.
There is a cafe on site with outdoor seating, play area, gift and food shop, nature walks, arts and craft studio, and much more. See more on the Findhorn Foundation website.
And there’s more…
If you’re interested in taking Yoga, Martial Arts, Badminton, or Latin American Dance classes, check the schedule at Forres House Community Centre.
The town is blessed with many sporting facilities, including football fields, a cricket pitch, two bowling greens, squash courts, all-weather tennis courts, small-bore rifle shooting, and a community centre which caters for indoor sports such as badminton, archery, gymnastics, bowling and basketball.
It also boasts its own Highland League Football Club Forres Mechanics, a junior league club, Forres Thistle, and let us not forget the Welfare League and the Soccer Sevens.
For the shopaholics, why not browse one of our visitor centres such as Logie Steading and Brodie Countryfare, or the range of independent shops on Forres High S