On our way to spend a couple of nights in our van in Findhorn, we stopped in Elgin to stay in a B&B recommended by some friends. South of the A9 before we diverted up Speyside, we passed Glen Feshie which sits on the side of the Cairngorm Massif. I had recently read an article about 200 people from there who emigrated to Canada in the early 1830s and established a town called Badenoch on the shores of Lake Ontario. They cleared the heavily forested land and threatened the livelihood of the local indigenous people, the Mississaugas, a nomadic people whose traditional migratory routes were cut off. The immigrant community grew with additional English and German settlers. It is hard to believe that people who had grown up with the consequences of the clearances in Scotland could do this to the local people.
After settling into our accommodation in Elgin, we had a meal in a restaurant in a close off the High Street. Our host told us that Elgin was initially a network of narrow streets until the Victorians created the High Street and built St Giles’s church. The map shows the remains of a castle and several old wells. The following morning, we awoke to blue skies and sunshine and set out to explore the Cathedral ruins and the nearby Biblical Garden. The first cathedral was constructed in 1224.
The Biblical Garden is part laid out in the shape of a Celtic Cross
and also has statues of biblical characters with a note relating to their section of the bible.
There is also a space where you can sit and eat a picnic.
Leaving Elgin on the A941 we saw that like many towns in East Lothian, lots of new houses are being built on the outskirts. By the time we stopped for a coffee in Lossiemouth it had started to cloud over.
Heading west along the coast we passed RAF Lossiemouth, Hopeman, Roseisle Maltings and Kinross Airfield where we turned into the road to Findhorn. The Aire is situated on the Findhorn Bay Local Nature Reserve.
The Findhorn River is 60 miles long. Its source is in the Am Monadh Liath mountains and it runs down to the Moray coast where it reaches the sea at the village of Findhorn. Thomas Henderson wrote a book The Findhorn’ published in 1932. He describes the village of Findhorn as ‘now but a holiday resort of a charmingly primitive kind’. The Culbin Estate is near Findhorn. In the 17th century it was a prosperous farm protected from wind by the dunes. It lay on a low peninsula in the bay. In November 1694 a huge storm flooded Findhorn. The people had to escape and the sea completely covered the Culbin Estate. 16 farms, land, the lairds house and all the workers houses were completely destroyed. A new river course to the sea had opened. The Culbin forest is across the water from Findhorn.
The village was once a trading port. The local lairds were co-partners. They sold and shipped out their timber, salmon, herring and cod and imported luxuries. Thomas Henderson lists a selection of cargo ordered from Holland in 1649: soap, dyeing materials e.g., Indigo, raisins, currants, figs, prunes, ginger, sugar, aniseed, black pepper, wine, tobacco and more.
We were close to the beach and there are steps up the dunes for access.
There are some stones on the beach but not as many as at Spey Bay.
I did several beach walks on the first day.
On our second morning we had a coffee at the Bakehouse Market and then walked via the marina and the beach to the Aire.
In the afternoon we visited the Ice House which covers the local history of salmon fishing which was the main industry until 1987.
The main Heritage Centre was closed.
That evening I watched the sun go down on the beach.
On our way back home, we diverted to Inverness to visit some friends and had a walk alongside the River Ness.