Moray – A Place of Contrasts
The southern tip of Moray surrounds the Loch Avon basin. This is one of the most impressive settings in the Cairngorm mountains, even more enhanced by winter snow. The Cairngorm plateau is the largest expanse of land over 900m in the UK and home to rare Arctic flora. Most of this plateau drains into Loch Avon (742m) and Loch Etchachan (927m) which are the highest bodies of water of their size in the UK. Surrounded on three sides by precipitous mountains and crags this is a dramatic place. Surprisingly few people realise that this view lies entirely within Moray with the boundary passing over the top of some of the highest hills in Scotland; Ben Macdui 1309m (no. 2), Cairngorm 1245m (no. 6), Beinn a’Bhuird 1196m (no. 11), Ben Avon 1171m (no. 17). Beinn Mheadhoin at 1182m is the only high mountain that lies solely within Moray.
It is the glaciers of old on these high hills and their meltwaters that have formed the landscape of Moray that we enjoy today. The granite rocks of the Cairngorms with its poor soil result in the waters of the River Avon running crystal clear. This is in sharp constant to the River Findhorn, whose dark peaty waters run through dramatic deep gorges.
The Moray Firth coast is a mere 40 miles away. This spectacular coastal is a delightful mix of long sweeping bays, fishing villages, World War II coastal defences, Scotland’s longest storm beach at Spey Bay, sea cliffs, stacks and caves. Across the Firth the view of the hills of the Northern Highlands adds significantly to the ambience.
The diversity of the landscape across Moray is reflected in the huge range of wildlife. Red deer, ptarmigan, capercaillie and wild cats are found in the mountains and forests while whales, dolphins, seals, ospreys, gannets, water fowl and numerous seabirds regularly cruise the Moray Firth. The area is a delight for the wildlife enthusiastic.
Moray has a drier and sunnier climate than expected from its position so far north. Mid-summer is also a time of near continuous daylight. Thus it is no surprise that the lower lying coastal region is a key farming and food production area. Much of the rural local industry is based on quality food and drink. It is home to global food brands such as Walker Shortbread and Baxters soups and jams.
The River Spey completes it’s journey to the sea by slicing through Moray. Sprinkled throughout this largely rural area are the distinctive pagoda roofs of the malt whisky distilleries which are the backbone of the local economy. Famous whisky distilleries are spread across the whole of Moray, but there is a particular concentration along and nearby the Spey. The Spey, along with the rivers Findhorn, Avon and LIvet rush from high mountain to sea and are popular with amglers. These are all attractive rivers, but in terms of spectacular beauty it is the River Findhorn that is regarded by many as the most spectular river in the UK.
The pressence of numerous large Estates and the Forestry Commission means that Moray has extensive areas of woodland. Tracks through these woodlands are justly popular with walkers and cyclists, with both Forestry Commission Scotland and The Crown Estate providing many recreational opportunities.
The diversity of the landscape is reflected in the huge range of wildlife. From the red deer, ptarmigan, capercaillie and wild cats in the mountains and forests, to the whales, dolphins, ospreys and water fowl which regularly cruise the Moray Firth.
The three main waymarked routes are the Speyside Way, the Moray Coast Trail and the Dava Way . These combine together to form a 100-mile circular route called The Moray Way. There are also numerous signposted walks around many of the settlements.
Tourism is important to the area and there are a number of exciting events throughout the year. Many of villages host their Highland Games during the summer. Festivals are a prominent addition during the year including the internationally acclaimed Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival held in early May.
The midsummer Moray Walking and Outdoor Festival is a new addition to the local calendar and allows Moray to showcase its fantastic scenery and outdoor opportunities. There’s so much to see and do we are confident we will be welcoming you back again and again.