The contrasting landscape of Moray Speyside presents multiple opportunities for adrenaline junkies and sports enthusiasts.
A rugged coastline and mountains provide the perfect backdrop for climbing, mountain biking, rafting, sailing and hiking, while the rolling slopes and flatlands lend themselves ideally to gentler activities of walking, golfing and cycling.
Glenlivet – Grantown – Forres
Begin with a morning of biking through the forest trails located within the Glenlivet Estate. Off the B9136 by Kirkmichael north of Tomintoul you will find purpose-built mountain bike trails with a confidence building to intermediate 9km track, a challenging 22km track for experienced riders. You’ll also find bike hire, spares and a cafe on-site too. Roads through the Braes of Glenlivet arrive at Tomintoul, the highest community in Moray at 1160ft (354m).
One of the very best ways to get an overview of the grand landscapes around the area is on horseback; a range of local providers offer guided rides and treks using local knowledge to take their guests over high ground and valley – all of it ideal terrain for sturdy Highland horses. For those who prefer walking, Ben Rinnes is a good starting point to the trip. At 841m, the summit offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. The walk is around 7.5km up a well-worn hill path and is estimated to take 3-4 hours to complete.
East of Tomintoul, the spectacular Snow Roads climb past the Lecht Ski Centre at 2090 ft. (645m) The skiing and boarding is especially suitable for beginners and intermediates. There are 12 lifts and a ski school. All equipment can be hired (on line too). The day lodge has a cafe, bar, shop and all facilities.
For a night in unusual accommodation, try Ace Hideaways near Forres who offer luxurious Shepherds’ huts, or nearby the new Macbeth’s Hillock glamping site which offers luxury pods on the site of Macbeth’s famous encounter with the three witches.
Forres – Findhorn – Lossiemouth
Day two begins with a morning of canoeing and kayaking on the river Findhorn. This activity, operated by Ace Adventures, begins on the doorstep of the Shepherds’ hut.
As an area with sheltered coastal waters, a beautiful coastline and rushing rivers Moray Speyside offers a wide range of water-based activities – from kayaking and white-water rafting to sailing and windsurfing and from sea kayaking and paddle-boarding to surfing, boat trips, sea-angling charters, salmon and trout fishing.
Findhorn Marina awaits from where North 58 provide wildlife adventures along the Moray Firth. The two-hour trip offers exciting encounters with the local marine life including dolphins, seals and occasionally orcas. The excursion also offers the chance to explore the breath-taking scenery along the Moray coastline.
For picturesque views, head to the coastal town of Lossiemouth where the beach provides postcard-worthy views of the sunset highly. Lossiemouth has highly-rated golf courses, a well-equipped marina, an equestrian centre and even caves which can be explored via the coastal path – there are so many things to do in and around this handsome resort.
Lossiemouth also presents the option of sea kayaking, with kayaks available to hire from Outfit Moray or surfing at the beach with New Wave Surf School. Outfit Moray also offer a variety of other activities, including coasteering and bike hire.
Experienced climbers can complete their Moray Speyside adventure at Cummingston Cliffs to the west or Logie Head to the east; two hot spots for climbers in the area.
Lossiemouth – Fochabers – Portknockie – Cullen
Begin day three with a trip back to Elgin – the capital of Moray Speyside where you’ll find a good range of restaurants and shops to stock up. Elgin also offers plenty of choices for accommodation, from camp sites to hotels.
Return east to Fochabers where you’ll saddle up to experience the Moray Monster MTB Trails. There are four trails starting from Ordiequish carpark: three suitable for everyone to enjoy and one for the most experienced bike riders. There are two more trails starting at Winding Walks car park, both aimed at experienced mountain bikers.
Moray Speyside is also a fabulous place for road cyclists with a wide range of routes that offer something for cyclist of all abilities, from short circular routes to epic adventures in the remote hills and valleys of Speyside and the Cairngorms.
That evening Portknockie is a must visit location. Bow Fiddle Rock is a natural sea arch on the Moray Firth coastline and a popular tourist attraction. One of the most recognisable landmarks in Moray, the Bow Fiddle Rock offers itself as a subject for all levels of photographer to capture.
On the final night try one of the many self-catering cottages in Cullen which offer the perfect setting to pour yourself a dram, light a fire and put your feet up after an action-packed few days, or relax in one of the area’s excellent hotels.