Neat and compact, the historic town of Forres is made even more attractive by its emphasis on plants and flowers in parks and public spaces.
One of the very oldest of Scotland’s burghs, the town was granted this status as far back as 1140, with a renewed royal burgh charter dated 1496. Burghs had market rights and were administered from the local tolbooth. Today, Forres’s High Street still bulges out in the centre of the town, the old market place, while the Tolbooth of 1818 (replacing an earlier one) is also here, overlooking the town’s Mercat Cross.
More evidence of the town’s antiquity is in the pattern of ‘rigs’ running at right angles to the main street. These narrow strips of land, now marked by alleyways off the street, are highly characteristic of old Scottish towns. There are also some fine 19th-century buildings enhancing the High Street area, including the Town Hall (from 1823) and the Falconer Museum of 1869. There are good local shops and cafes here as well, making the centre of Forres well worth a stroll.
Accommodation in Forres:
Hotel accommodation in and around Forres includes country house style on the edge of town, as well as fine Victorian properties on the south side. Both hotel and B&B accommodation choice is widened by seaside options at nearby Findhorn. Self catering properties range from town houses to chalets in the woodlands of Moray south of the town. There is a good choice of caravan and camping parks mostly on the coast near Forres.
Forres is a good base for exploring distilleries, with Benromach in the town, Dallas Dhu in preservation nearby and Glen Moray in Elgin to the east. The town’s Falconer Museum has plenty of local artefacts. On the eastern edge, Sueno’s Stone is perhaps the most spectacular Pictish carved standing stone to be seen in Scotland. A little further afield are Brodie Castle and also the Findhorn Foundation.
There is a good choice of golf courses within easy reach along the sunny Moray Firth coast. Visiting anglers can enjoy the River Findhorn with local advice readily available. There are several riding and trekking centres within easy reach of the town. The Dava Way, the trackbed of the railway that once linked Forres with Grantown-on-Spey, now makes an excellent walking route, while there are also good coastal paths on the Moray Firth both east and west of the River Findhorn. Birdwatchers can enjoy the coastal forests at Culbin and Roseisle.
Based on a 16th-century ‘Z-plan’ layout, with later additions, this handsome castle has collections of furniture, porcelain and paintings. There are extensive grounds with woodland walks and a play area for children. This is a National Trust for Scotland property, about 4 miles west of Forres.
What was once the largest dune system in Scotland is now an extensive and mature Forestry Commission planting, with walks, trails, birdlife and even an observation tower (on the Hill 99 trail). The east side of Culbin is easy to reach from Forres, with a generous well laid out car park.
Though there are plenty of active distilleries by the River Spey, picturesque 19th-century Dallas Dhu has been preserved as a monument to the art of distilling. Tours exhibition and audio-visuals of this time capsule allow visitors a close insight into the manufacture of one of Scotland’s iconic products
Burgie International Horse Trials Three Day Event is a popular equestrian gathering (with lots of extras) annually in June. July sees the annual Forres Highland Games. There are also separate events programmes by local countryside rangers, as well as several events taking place at Brodie Castle. Further information: www.greaterspeyside.com