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4 Wonderful Walks in Moray

Today marks the start of the Moray Walking Festival – a five day event packed to the brim with wonderful walks and activities.  From beautiful coastline and winding rivers to stunning hill-top views and tranquil forests, the area is rich in a variety of land and seascapes.  With over 40 walks, activities and events, the fantastic line-up includes railway rambles, whisky walks, treasure trails and wild food wanders.  It’s a great way for visitors to get knee-deep in local history, geology and wildlife, and sink into spectacular scenery.

In celebration of this wonderful midsummer festival, here are four of my favourite coastal, river, hill and forest walks in the area.

Coastal

It is undoubtedly one of the country’s finest coastlines, with charming villages, pretty harbours and breath-taking beaches by the bucketful.  There are many jewels waiting to be discovered in the Moray Coast crown, with sea views to really make your heart sing.

Although I love meandering in many of the villages and beaches gathered in the arms of the Moray Firth, my favourite walk is from Findhorn, with its tear-drop bay and whitewashed cottages, to the oh-so-lovely curve of Roseisle.  From Findhorn’s back shore, you can follow the wide stretch of beach all the way to the dune and pinewood-lined Roseisle.  (For a longer walk, you can continue along the crescent of beach to Burghead).

Roseisle is an ideal playground for both the young and old with its, often quiet, stretch of beach, large expanse of pine forest (maintained by Forestry Commission Scotland) and massive dunes (who doesn’t love a bit of dune-jumping?).  The unspoiled beach holds the great arm of the Moray Firth as it reaches from Findhorn to Burghead, and is a peaceful place to immerse yourself in coastal scenes.  Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, seals and porpoises while you walk.

River

The beauty of the River Findhorn cannot be overstated, particularly around the Randolph’s Leap area.  The river rushes through rocky, forested landscape on its hurried journey to the sea; squeezing through rocks at Randolph’s Leap and pausing to cascade and swirl in inky pools.  It is truly a sight to behold, with scenery that wouldn’t seem out of place in Canada.

There is an information board on the walk at its start at Logie Steading (where you can enjoy coffee and delicious home-baking and lunches before or afterwards, and explore the fantastic shops).  The walk is split into two parts: the first section folded in between fields and the riverside; the second part continuing after a short walk onto the road and crossing a bridge.

The walk allows you to soak up the captivating river scenery from close to its banks, but do take care as the cliffs are steep.

Hill

A brisk Scottish hill walk is a great way to sweep away the cobwebs (and soothe any whisky-enduced headaches!).  The climb up mighty Ben Rinnes, towering over Speyside, rewards you with amazing panoramic views of the North-East.  From the summit, the landscape unravels in all directions, stretching from the Moray Firth to the Cairngorm Mountains.

From Dufftown take the Tomintoul road to a small car park in the ‘Beatshach’.  It takes between 3 and 4 hours to walk to the summit and back, but even walking a short distance up the mountain gives you gorgeous views of Glen Rinnes.

One of the walking festival’s highlights is sure to be the Ben Rinnes walk with writer and presenter Cameron McNeish on Saturday 21st June, led by ex RAF Mountain Rescue Leader David Whalley MBE. BEM.

Forest

The large expanse of the Culbin Forest just begs to be explored.  Lying between the Moray Firth and the A96, the Forest Nature Reserve runs from just outside Nairn all the way up to meet Findhorn Bay (and can be reached from Brodie).  The soothing forest backdrop is ideal for a relaxing afternoon walk and is also a good place to spot wildlife.  There are a number of trails that snake throughout the sprawling pine forest, some of which lead out to the shore (where I have many a time enjoyed a picnic).  The Hill 99 Trail (marked with black arrows) is an easy walk that takes in the lovely forested surroundings and leads to a high wooden tower with far-reaching views.

 

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