The hospitality and travel restrictions in Scotland were eased on 26 April, and we all “graduated” to Level 3 (from Level 4). When that timetable was published a month ago, I booked a cottage in Elgin for four nights starting on the 26th because I was to be on holiday from work anyway.
Elgin. “Why?”, some might ask. Answering that would take a blog post all of its own. Perhaps this one will offer a few answers.
The town is the gateway to the malt whisky industries of Speyside. The Glen Moray distillery is across the street from my cottage. I took my son on one of their tours when he was just into secondary school and showing an interest in chemistry and biology. He was fascinated. Other distilleries in the area are better known – Glenfiddich, for example – but the attraction was the scientific side rather than the nature of the end product.
The ruined cathedral is perhaps the best known historic site in the town. It is a reminder of the area’s past. It dates from 1224. After a long period of neglect, the structural collapse really took hold in 1711. On Easter Sunday in that year the central tower collapsed.
Other historic sites in the surrounding area can also be visited – Sueno’s Stone in Forres is an example. It dates from about 850-950. It is from the era of the Picts. Local legend has it that this is where Macbeth met the three witches.
The remnants of Pictish fort can be visited in Burghead. It is believed to date from about 400, and was destroyed by fire in the 9th or 10th century.
From Elgin you have easy access to marvellous beaches at places like Burghead, Hopeman and Lossiemouth.
You also have just a short drive to the gentle landscape of lower Speyside – ideal for hiking.
It is not possible to escape the pandemic, or the restrictions which result from it, but escaping – briefly but safely – from the four walls of home was a huge attraction
ⓒ iain taylor, 2021