E is for Elgin – Nestled in this world-famous whisky region, Elgin lies on the south coast of the Moray Firth roughly midway between Inverness and Aberdeen and straddles the River Lossie.
Once associated only with Royal Palaces and Cathedrals Elgin is now the centre for luxurious Cashmere production and world famous Whisky distilleries.
First recorded in 1151 Elgin was a popular home for early Scottish monarchs.The town offers many pleasant characteristics, breathtaking scenery and a number of local distilleries including Glen Moray and the headquarters of Gordon & MacPhail.
On North College Street is the lovely ruin of Elgin Cathedral. Once considered Scotland’s most beautiful cathedral, rivalling St Andrews in importance, today it is little more than a shell, though it does retain its original facade. Unusual features include the Pictish cross slab in the middle of the ruins and the cracked gravestones with their memento mori of skulls and crossbones.
It is impossible to appreciate the importance of this Cathedral and the influence of the Church without visiting the inside of this incredible building. Inside you are given a glance of what the Cathedral must have looked like in all it’s original glory and you will be astounded. The restoration of the colours on some of the original plasterwork are stunning, so to is the quality and structure of the building.
Next door to the Cathedral and unmissable during your town visit you will find Johnstons of Elgin. This family owned business spanning some 224 years is a treasure trove of Scottish luxury with muted tweeds, cashmere throws, heritage visits and original buildings.
That said enjoy a walk or drive around Elgin and appreciate the building of the classic Scottish Granite house.There are some beautiful buildings such as Thunderton House previously a Royal Palace that played host to Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746. Throughout the town you will find information linking to town to the infamous Wolf of Badenoch responsible for the destruction of both Elgin and the Cathedral and whose name you will encounter throughout Scottish history.
At the very top of High Street is one of Britain’s oldest museums, the Elgin Museum, housed in this building since 1843. Offering a superb collection of local fossils and Pictish displays from the area this museum is well worth your visit.
Whilst in the town take the time to visit either the Visitor Centre or take a tour of the Glen Moray Distillery. The visitor centre always has a fantastic selection of Whiskies or Whisky flavoured treats that I find hard to go without, the cafe is highly recommended. The smell of malted barley lingers in the air as you overlook the extensive bonded warehouses of this lovely local distillery.
On the outskirts of the town you will find Spynie Palace. Again linking back to the original influence of the Church prior to the Cathedral being built in 1224 this is an over looked gem of Scottish history that plays it’s part in Elgin’s history.
One of the best ways to reach Elgin from us is to turn right out of the Blervie House and drive through Pluscarden Valley enjoying the scenic vista of forest, farmland, distilleries and moorland that opens up in front of you until you see the town laid our in front of you. Easily recognised by the Duke of Gordon’s monument some 24m high standing on Lady Hill it is a most impressive site overlooking the town.
Like so much of Scotland some of the best of an area is the exploring the immediate surroundings and the area around Elgin offers lovely opportunities for exactly that. A nice drive through scenery, some stunning historical ruins, a world famous distillery and a Cashmere producer by Royal Appointment makes for a relaxing and interesting day out.