It’s our last full day here before we drive to Inverness tomorrow – and we’ve a busy one planned (nothing new there ehh?!) After yesterday’s adventure that took us to the rather beautiful areas of Banff, Portsoy and Cullen (ending with a drive through next-door Buckie) today, we’re soaking-up more of the area to the north-west of base-camp, including:-
- Huntly Castle
- Baxter’s Highland Village in Fochabers
- Gordon Castle Walled Garden in Fochabers
- Spey Bay (Dolphins!)
- Elgin Cathedral (and the cashmere shop!)
- Auchindoun Castle
(Not necessarily in that order!)
10.15am: We arrived in town and were soon parked for our first stop of the day – a revisit to Huntly Castle (last visited in 2002/3?). We took the longer-than-we-thought walk down to the ruins and. First impressions? It was amazing how much was familiar considering we hadn’t been here for 20+ years!
The temperature was now a very pleasant 16℃ and we spent longer here than we planned. Next stop: The Walled Gardens at Gordon Castle.
Gordon Castle Walled Garden
12.05pm: The Walled Garden should have been easy-peasy to find. It wasn’t! In spite of having the correct postcode and based on the reputation of the excellent signage to anywhere cultural in these parts, we should have been there in no time. As things turned out, we first ended up down a dirt-track leading to a farm. Then a crop of new-build houses – and neither was anywhere near where we SHOULD have been! We’re still not sure what went wrong, but we did get there eventually!
It was definitely worth the trip (as convoluted as it was!) – it all looked beautiful!
…and even sweet-peas in September – Amazing!
Johnson’s of Elgin Cashmere Shop
12.35pm: This is the kind of shop only for people with bucket loads of cash (and who have clearly lost their marbles). How about a cashmere jumper for the bargain price of £715 (reduced from £1915)? We didn’t think it was our civic duty to buy it! 😋
In complete contrast, the Restaurant was excellent value! Superbly well-organised and very COVID-19 compliant (as we tried to enter the EXIT door!). We tucked into Giant Haddock Goujons (Ann) and a Beef Burrito (me). And it would have been rude not to sample the Premier Cru in these parts that is… Irn Bru! 😁
1.45pm: We took the short walk (5 minutes) from the restaurant at the Cashmere shop to the Cathedral and for us, this next stop was probably the highlight of the day. The Cathedral, in ruins, dates back to the 13th century…
…and there was plenty to see here – inside and out! The staff were super-friendly and knowledgeable, and it made the visit extra-special. 👍 Read more HERE
Baxter’s Highland Village
2.50pm: Our penultimate stop for the day was Baxter’s Highland Village. We weren’t quite sure what to expect – all we knew was that Baxter’s is famous for its soups! Our love of all-things-retail meant that our weekly dose of retail-therapy was about to be served – in huge quantities!
Our first experience was their Museum boasting an impressive display of ‘old style’ retailing and merchandising. Fantastic!
…with their products taking centre-stage…
Just next door was the 2020 equivalent, with pretty much EVERY product they make on display (with a healthy 25% discount too!).
…and the Queen likes them too apparently!
We didn’t quite make it to Auchindoun Castle, so maybe that’s on our to-do list for another time! Instead, we headed for where dolphins had been spotted…
3.55pm: Well, what can I say about Spey Bay? Idyllic?, Ethereal?, Beautiful?
Well, today it was NONE of those!
It was cold, blowing a gale, and its beach (the largest shingle beach in Scotland, in case you were wondering) was an ankle-breaker! Add to that, the main ‘porpoise’ of our visit was to see the dolphins, but they’d been sensible, and buggered-off to somewhere much warmer. Richard had lent Ann his binoculars and she thought she saw a couple of fins bobbing up-and-down, but I reckoned it was two Nokia employees who got lost swimming! 😁
The experience had all been a bit too close to nature for my blood and we retreated to the car and headed back to base, where Lynn soon served up some hot coffee to bring us back to life!
7.10pm: Our final meal with Richard and Lynn was one not-to-be-forgotten. Locally sourced Venison in a casserole – and it really was melt-in-the-mouth.
10.15pm: With the world put right after the meal, it was time to say our goodnights and get packed for our departure tomorrow! It’s been a great stay here, and we’ve covered a lot of miles and caught up with some old friends. Brilliant!! 🙂
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