A Day in and around Spey Bay

spey bay 3Shortly before you arrive in the lovely town of Fochabers, the A96 crosses the thick ribbon of the River Spey as it winds out on the final part of its journey to meet the sea.  With a stunning coastline, fantastic wildlife-watching opportunities, the beautiful river and distilleries a-plenty on its doorstep, the Spey Bay and Fochabers area has a host of delights up its sleeve.  If you’re planning a trip to the area, looking for some holiday inspiration or heading to Fochabers for Speyfest (the annual folk festival which rolls into town on 25th July for three days of concerts and ceilidhs), here is a sample itinerary of how you might spend a day in the area.

Baxters Highland Village

Start the day with a stroll around Baxters Highland Village and enjoy morning coffee in its restaurant (known for the delicious pancakes which are made to order on the griddle in front of you).   Find out more about the history of Baxters at the old grocery shop, originally built in 1868, and take a look around the lovely shops.

Baxters is open 7 days a week, 10am – 5pm.  Early birds can head to the nearby River Spey to take in the picturesque river views by walking a short distance of this section of the Speyside Way.  There is a lovely circular walk along the river’s edge and looping through Warren Wood along the forest road.

Scottish Dolphin CentreThe Scottish Dolphin Centre

Take the B9104 towards Spey Bay (just after you cross the Spey from Baxters) to visit the Scottish Dolphin Centre, located at the mouth of the river as it flows into the sea.  It’s a wonderful free attraction, open April to October, and the Moray Firth bottlenose dolphins are regularly spotted here.  As well as scouring the waves for fins from the stony beach sprawled in front of the visitor centre (and soaking up the spectacular seascape), you can tour the historic Ice House, watch underwater footage from the bay in the ‘Dry Dive’, join a wildlife wander tour and use the river and dolphin cams.  Great fun for all the family.

Gordon Castle Walled Garden

From Spey Bay head back up towards Fochabers to rejoin the A96 and keep an eye out for signposts to Gordon Castle Walled Garden.   The cafe at the gorgeous Walled Garden, situated on the site of a 19th century greenhouse, is an ideal place to enjoy a fresh, home cooked lunch (with ingredients from the garden itself).  With an emphasis on local produce, the menu serves up mouth-watering seasonal Scottish fare.  If you arrive later in the day, you can choose from the Afternoon Treats menu.  You can also browse a range of products in the shop containing garden ingredients, such as luxury bath products and Gordon Castle gin.  (Booking is advisable for lunch).

Strathisla Distillery

Built in 1786 and bought by Chivas Brothers in 1970, Strathisla Distillery is Scotland’s oldest continually producing distillery.  It is a drive of around fifteen minutes from Fochabers to its location on the banks of the River Isla in Keith.  There are distillery tours ever half hour throughout the summer, costing £7.50, as well as two specialist Connoisseur tours running at weekends.  What better way to end your taste of the area than a dram at this historic and pretty-as-a-picture distillery?

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