This post is part of a paid partnership with VisitScotland to explore wellness and lots of lovely food and drink, in the hidden gem that is Moray Speyside.
I’m over here wondering why I haven’t spent more time in Moray Speyside, I think it has become one of my favourite parts of Scotland. It’s a bit of a hidden gem, nestled right in between Inverness and Aberdeen. After our amazing wellness trip with VisitScotland in the region, we left for a grand total of 3 days, then came back for another week. That’s the beauty of van life, yes, but really, that’s the beauty of Moray Speyside. It doesn’t end. It goes on forever, in the best way possible. Just when you think you’ve seen all the glittering beaches, endless wildlife and cute wee fishing towns, along comes another, and another. Then a recommendation from someone on social media, then another, and another. This is the region that just keeps on giving. So here I am with some of the best things to do in Moray Speyside for wellness and good vibes, some of the best places to eat in Moray Speyside for fine local food, and cool places to stay in this welcoming region.
Wellness in Moray Speyside
This visit to Moray Speyside was all about wellness, and what wellness means to me. And what wellness means to me is probably quite different to what wellness means to you, and that’s okay. But what I can say is, regardless of what your kind of wellness is, you’ll likely find it in this lovely region. And when I say lovely, the folk here are very welcoming. But I guess you would be with this kind of beauty on your doorstep.
Things to do in Moray Speyside
Known for its distilleries, Speyside is a nature-rich and beautiful area decorated with a lot of whisky distilleries, but there’s also castles, waterfalls and endless nature walks. The Moray part is a coastal haven; with loads of pretty beaches and bays, and superb local seafood to match. We spent 4 days here with VisitScotland, but there’s so much more I want to see and do. I just feel like, well it’s probably the same for most places in Scotland, that you just finish one trip and you’re planning another. We did some of the pretty cool things to do in Moray during our time here, and I absolutely hope you manage along to some of these places one day because they really are truly relaxing.
Visit Roseisle Beach
As we drove along this winding country road, through rolling farms with coastal views, we had absolutely no idea what to expect. Even Peat and Diesel on the tune-box couldn’t tell us. What I got when I arrived, just about blew my mind. Roseisle beach is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s a coastal pinewood, quite literally. When you arrive, there is a forest of the most immaculately placed trees, on an orange pine forest carpet. But within minutes of walking through the forest, you arrive at a stunning sandy beach. Places like this shouldn’t be possible, but when they are, they’re truly magnificent.We ended up there twice during our trip to the area; the first to just sit on the beach and enjoy the views of the velvety waves. The second? Well. Being two huge kids, we got into our swimming gear and hit the waves. The safest time to swim in the sea in Scotland is on a rising tide, ideally just an hour before high tide, in what’s called a “slack tide.” This means there isn’t a lot of movement in the sea, which makes it ample for swimming. You do get the odd breaking wave at the shoreline though, and it is the BEST fun. Scott (my other half) and I hadn’t laughed so much in ages as we just let the breaking waves throw us onto the beach, and pull us back in. Laughing, and swimming, and being a big kid in the waves is my idea of wellness.
Just so you know (if you don’t already follow me on @theayelife), I would happily live in a harbour. Not by a harbour, but like, in one. I am fascinated by historic fishing ports, wee fishing villages, and tiny wee fishing boats. That’s not to mention the wealth of sea life, seabirds and tides. I love the sea and I love everything it brings with it. I often use sea shanties and songs of the sea on social media, and that’s because in real life, I’m practically a fisherman (I’m just terrible at catching anything). Findhorn is kinda my place. I’d only ever been here once previous, but yet it does absolutely everything for me. Findhorn is a historic fishing village on the eastern shore of Findhorn Bay and aside from having a lovely atmosphere, it is also completely beautiful. There’s lots to do in Findhorn alone, but as one of the things to do in Moray Speyside, you have to visit Findhorn!
I saw one of the best sunsets of my whole life on Lossiemouth’s West Beach. This place is stunning. The beach is home to the Covesea Lighthouse which is like a welcoming beacon to those on the sand, whilst being a stark warning to those at sea. One day, I would absolutely love to go on a lighthouse tour of Scotland and spend lots of time hanging out with fishermen. I bet they have the best stories.
The waves lash against the sandy shore at “Lossie” and asides from being home to about a hundred cormorants, you can also spot dolphins and seals on rising tides at Lossiemouth’s West Beach.
Visit Gordon Castle
Castle Gordon – Rabbie Burns
Streams that glide in orient plains,
Never bound by Winter’s chains;
Glowing here on golden sands,
There immixed with foulest stains
From Tyranny’s empurpled hands:
These, their richly gleaming waves,
I leave to tyrants and their slaves;
Give me the stream that sweetly laves
The banks by Castle Gordon.
Gordon Castle is a very special place. I remember, a few years ago, I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of Gordon Castle gin in the post, (it’s safe to say I greeted the postie with a fair smile that day). But after learning that the gin was made with the botanicals from the castle’s Walled Garden, I’d always wanted to visit. So it was pretty special finally getting to visit the walled garden whilst the flowers were in full bloom. I felt a little like Alice in Wonderland wandering around the absolutely magnificent gardens. It was amazing. I could have spent hours here just being inspired. I don’t know much about gardening, but I do know that it takes a lot of work, and in some cases, a wee touch of magic, to grow such beautiful plants. Gordon Castle’s Walled Garden is one of the most relaxing, easy and peaceful things to do in Moray Speyside.
There’s also a lovely cafe with indoor and outdoor seating at Gordon Castle, alongside a gift shop filled with lovely skincare, gins, lotions, potions, and teas, all made from plants from the castle’s walled garden. I left with some chamomile tea (and gin, of course).
Named after the point of the river where the rock banks are the closest, Randolphs Leap is a Site of Specific Scientific Interest, but it’s also historically distinctive. According to legend, Thomas Randolph the Earl of Moray was chasing a Comyn, who leapt to the other side of the river and escaped outwith Randolph’s grasp. The Comyn castle later fell and King Robert the Bruce granted the lands to Randolph. I guess it worked out in Randolph’s favour afterall. Logie Steading is nearby Randolph’s Leap, where you can get some lovely local food (and shop for local wares). More about that one further on.
During our time in Moray Speyside, we saw an abundance of wildlife. Scotland and its coasts are amazing for spotting wildlife, but this region is truly special. We saw; herons, cormorants, oystercatchers, dolphins, seals, buzzards and even red squirrels! For me, someone who loves animals, this was so special. So if you are visiting Moray Speyside, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, and maybe bring binoculars.
Cool Places to Stay
We were lucky enough to spend some time at some pretty magical places to stay in Moray Speyside. We actually left one, Speyside Gardens, and came back for basically another week. The locations of both of the following places are fantastic for exploring the region, and each is as peaceful and welcoming as the next.
The Loft Glamping & Camping
Well, this was pretty cool! We stayed for two nights in a Big Chief Wigwam Cabin. I mean, the name’s already selling it, isn’t it? Big Chief. I liked that. We also had a package arranged which included bedding, towels, cushions, blankets, lanterns, airy lights, a fire pit and firewood, so we were pretty much set. I felt a little like a wee wild wife of the woods in my wee cabin.
This is basically what I aspire to one day; a wee piece of land with a wee wooden cabin, nothing fancy, just somewhere cosy and my kind of homely, and that’s exactly what we got at The Loft. We sat out under the stars by the campfire, and when we weren’t doing that, we were invited along to feed The Loft’s resident goats, who were comical but cute. I like goats. Whenever we visit the Royal Highland Show, I’m usually hanging out with the goats. I highly recommend this place for a wee Moray getaway, it’s very welcoming and close to everything for exploring.
Speyside Gardens is a camping and caravanning site in, funnily enough, Speyside. To get here, you drive past heaps of distilleries, so be glad I even made it in the first place. I love hearing the stories of distilleries and how they differ from each other. We’ve already penned to come back and do lots of distillery tours. There were also signs for Aberlour, Ballindalloch Castle and The Linn Falls. We didn’t have time to fit these in on this trip, but if you are planning on visiting Speyside Gardens, maybe check them out.
The site itself is immaculate, friendly, spacious and decorated with huge pine trees. The trees are home to red squirrels and you will see a lot of them. They’re fascinating to watch as they bounce from branch to branch. One of our dogs, Corrie, who is scared of his own shadow, had no idea what to make of them. But you always knew one was nearby but his dulcit tones. Maybe he was singing to them? Maybe they were singing back. Who knows?
Places to eat in Moray Speyside
Eating in Moray Speyside is one of my highlights. The food here is marvellous. We ate at a few different places and each had its own personality, but still celebrated local food. I love seeing local food on a menu, as knowing the food miles have been reduced so much is fantastic for the environment, but also, local food just tastes better. In fact, Scottish food and drink just tastes better.
Square Roots is an authentic family-run cafe in the heart of Keith. We arrived on a glorious sun shining day to a super friendly welcome from one of the owners and her son, who I think I could have adopted. He was so lovely and accommodating with us. He even asked us if we were okay with the music that was playing (we were in a wee section of the cafe which we had to ourselves). Bless him. Of course we were okay with a bit of Lewis Capaldi over a hearty Square Roots burger and some macaroni with bacon and haggis. I loved this place, everything from the branding (I’m a geek shhhh) to the locality of the menu. I could absolutely get used to this cool cafe culture by the way.
This is a cracking wee pub in Forres. The portions here were absolutely enormous. Even my other half, who will happily eat most places out of house and home, struggled at the final hurdle. The Mosset Tavern was friendly, welcoming and a traditional pub with a classy interior. I had a mixed grill, for a change, which was the size of the region, and my other half had a creamy chicken tagliatelle. We shared both, and neither of us manage to finish either. But what a feast! A fine, Forres, feast. The Mosset Tavern serves ales from The Cairngorm Brewery.
When visiting Randolph’s Leap, we stopped by The Olive Tree Cafe at Logie Steading for some lunch. This cafe was a pleasant change for us, with lots of locally made (and grown) veggies and a unique menu to choose from. Scott had a venison burger with venison from the estate (not something you often see on a cafe menu and a cool addition), and I had a mozzarella and pesto panini (which I’ve never had before and it was delish!)
Logie Steading is also home to a lovely wee second-hand book shop, a huge farm shop and a wee store that sells local wines, gins and whiskies (I guess it would be rude not to with so much top-notch local fare!) I loved wandering around all the wee shops. Make Logie Steading and Randolph’s Leap a day out – both are nearby each other and you can’t beat a hearty lunch after a forest walk.
The Kimberley Inn
When in Findhorn, it would be rude not to dabble in the local seafood offering. I love shellfish so much and Scotland has some of the best. When we arrived in Findhorn, Crab had been landed off the boat that day at The Kimberley Inn, so I absolutely had to try the dressed crab. It was stunning. So fresh and so tasty. I would easily eat local shellfish all day, I love it SO much.
This has been one of my favourite seafood restaurants so far. Remember how I spoke about how I love harbours, seafood, fishing boats and sea life? Well, it’s not every day that I come across a restaurant that hits all of these points. Harbour Lights is in an awesome location in Lossiemouth. It looks over the wee fishing harbour and serves fantastic Scottish seafood. I had one of the best seafood platters I’ve ever had at Harbour Lights, with the lemon sole being a real treat, alongside a “Hendricks at the Harbour” cocktail which was sooooo refreshing. This is a place I won’t forget in a hurry.
Visit Moray Speyside
I think it goes without saying just how much I love this region. I’ve seen so much, yet I haven’t scratched the surface. There is so much more to do in Moray Speyside, that I can’t wait to get back for more good local eating, outdoor adventures and peaceful walks at the coast. I loved visiting Moray Speyside so much. It is a quiet, peaceful and completely beautiful region and as far as wellness goes, what a perfect place to spend some time relaxing and getting away from it all. If you haven’t already visited this special part of Scotland, but would like to, please see the below resources for planning your trip.
Wherever you are travelling, always remember to be responsible and leave no trace, and as I’ve recently learned through our own van adventures; take it slow, as you’ll enjoy it so much more.