Surrounded by fields and moorland, Auchindoun Castle was built in the 1400s for John, Earl of Mar, although it has been rebuilt a number of times since. John was murdered by his own brother, King James III, and the castle passed to Thomas Cochrane who was hanged from Lauder Bridge in 1482 by jealous nobles from Angus. The castle then became the stronghold of the Gordons. In 1571 Sir Adam Gordon rode out to Corgarff Castle to challenge the Forbes of Towie. He was not at home, and having received no welcome from his wife, Margaret Campbell, Gordon torched the castle, burning to death Margaret and 27 family and servants, including a number of children, earning him the nickname, the Herod of the North.
Findhorn, once a bustling port and busy fishing centre is now a peaceful village with lovely beaches, nature reserve, and lots of opportunities to spot dolphins and other wildlife. The Heritage Centre allows you to discover the secrets of Findhorn from prehistoric times to the present day. The impressively large Icehouse was built 150 years ago to store ice used to pack salmon for its journey to markets in London and now houses a fascinating exhibition about this industry in years gone by. Open summer afternoons, admission free.
The Keith & Dufftown Railway parallels the route of the Isla Way and can enhance your enjoyment of the walk. Walk one way and ride back, or just enjoy a relaxing 90 minutes as the 22 mile return journey takes you through an ever changing vista of hills, glen, open moorland, deep forests, lochs and rolling farmland; dotted with castles and cut by fast flowing rivers. Open every weekend from Easter to September, adequate parking and disabled facilities at both Keith Town and Dufftown Station with a licensed restaurant at Dufftown.
A 16th century tower house set in lovely parkland which offer lots of walks. The castle was the home of the Brodie family until the late 20th century, it now displays an impressive collection of antiques and art ranging from 17th century Dutch paintings to 19th century English watercolours and the more modern Scottish Colourists. The parkland offers a number of woodland walks and there is a good display of daffodils in the spring. The grounds are open all year. National Trust for Scotland shop and tea room.
Cragganmore Distillery, on the banks of the river Spey, is home to one of the most complex and characterful malt whiskies of the revered Speyside region.
Cragganmore Single Malt is the most complex Speyside Malt and as one of Speyside's smaller distilleries, it is, therefore, in limited supply. The Distillery's unique flat topped spirit stills and slowly condensed in tradtiional wooden worm-tubs, promotes Cragganmore's complexity. Tours operate May to September and you can browse the Visitor Centre shop.
High on Burghead Headland, the site of the former coastguard lookout has now been adapted for use as a visitor centre. It will take visitors through the history of the area from about 400AD to the present time. The Centre is on the site of a Pictish fort where ancient stones carved with bulls have been found, giving Burghead its motif. Nearby you can explore the unique underground chambered Burghead well.
Built in the early 13th century, this well preserved ruined castle, has a good example of a curtain wall built for defence, within which were the more refined architecture of the living quarters were built. Balvenie Castle was the stronghold of the ords who ruled over this part of Scotland for well over 500 years. It was built by the Black Comyn earls of Buchan and then it passed to the infamous 'Black' Douglases in the 14th century. When they were killed under orders of James II, the castle was handed to the Earl of Atholl and it remained with his descendants for 250 years.
Known as the Lantern of the North, Elgin Cathedral is a beautiful medieval building. Built from yellow sandstone quarried nearby it is a fascinating ruin which is interesting and atmospheric to explore. It was built in the early 13th century and served as the spiritual centre for the area until the Reformation in 1560. Today's visitor can admire the lovely west front, the large bishop statue in the nave, the 15th century chapterhouse, and Scotland's tallest gravestone.
Dallas Dhu distillery stopped making whisky in 1983. After a period of uncertainty, it was bought by Historic Scotland who now run tours showing the distilling process where you may here more of the tricks of the trade than at a commercial distillery and there is still a dram to taste at the end of the tour. The distillery was originally built in 1898 to produce malt whisky for Glasgow firm Wright and Greig's popular 'Roderick Dhu' blend. Set in picturesque countryside it makes a great place to visit.