Travel 2022: Leap into life in Moray

As the spring season sets in and the days become longer, the wildlife across the northern region of Moray begins to thrive again.

Wild dolphin in playful mood while hunting for migrating Atlantic Scottish salmon in the Moray Firth in the Scottish Highland.
Wild dolphin in playful mood while hunting for migrating Atlantic Scottish salmon in the Moray Firth in the Scottish Highland.

Bottlenose dolphins can be seen throughout the year in the Moray Firth – which is also home to grey seals and otters – but as waters calm after winter, the best time to spot them is from the spring onwards.

Inland, golden eagles, red squirrels and red deer also emerge and, amid the bloom of snowdrops and daffodils, there is no better time to venture out and discover the varied landscape and extensive trails across the area.

The ancient town of Forres, often described as Moray’s prettiest, has numerous walks on its doorstep, including the Moray Way, a100-mile loop combining the Dava Way, Moray Coast Trail and the Speyside Way.

Knockomie Inn. Picture: John Paul Photography

It can be completed in between three and nine days, and the diverse scenery along the way makes the challenge a worthwhile effort.

Should a round of golf be more preferable, the 18-hole Forres Golf Course is a stunning parkland course designed by James Braid and Willie Park that has a range of offers for visitors.

And no visit to this region would be complete without a stop at one of its famed distilleries. Forres is home to the family-owned single malt whisky producer Benromach Distillery, where visitors can discover its strong heritage and tasty tipples on a variety of tours.

Throughout this month, the Knockomie Inn, an Arts and Crafts building on the southern edge of the town, is offering a two-night spring break that includes a stay in a master double or twin room, a three-course dinner on both nights and a bottle of prosecco on arrival.

After a day spent exploring Moray’s great outdoors, the inn provides a cosy atmosphere and is the ideal place for a drink by the fire.

The 15 bedrooms are each distinct from the other, and some are available to those wishing to bring their dog along for the adventure.

The restaurant’s menu has a range of hearty meals featuring locally-sourced ingredients where possible, including mouth-watering salmon, scallops, venison, duck and 28-day dry hung Aberdeen Angus beef.

Gavin Ellis has owned and run the inn with his wife, Penny, for 34 years. He says: “At Knockomie Inn, we offer a wholesome and genuine service.

“We are literally on the outskirts of Forres and so guests can walk into the town easily.

“We aim for people to feel that they can come here again. We have guests who visit every couple of months from Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

“They go for wonderful walks along the River Findhorn and each week that walk will be different. Each week a walk along the coast will also be different: they might see a dolphin one time and an osprey the next.

“It is that surprise that draws many people to this peaceful destination.”

- This article first appeared in the spring edition of Scotsman Travel 2022

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