SUP Safari Scotland – Moray and Aberdeenshire Part 1

Back on the mainland of Scotland we travel south aiming for the Moray Firth then on to Aberdeenshire. Along the way we stop at the ruined Sinclair Girnigoe Castle. It is believed that the castle began it’s life as Castle Girnigoe between 1476 and 1496 and was probably built on the foundations of another structure.  In 1606 the castle was expanded and Castle Sinclair was built.  There was a dispute over ownership which lead to the Battle of Altimarlach in 1680 and the castle was damaged.  

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We stop by to visit the highland clearance village of Badbea. People were evicted from their homes in the glens by rich and powerful land owners to make way for sheep which made them more money. The village is located on a steep cliff and it is reputed that the villagers had to weather their children and animals with rope to stop them being blown into the sea.   In 1911 the village of between 60-100 residents was finally abandoned.

An option we considered for paddling was parking at Golspie Beach and paddleboarding the 2km up to Dunrobin Castle.  At the time of our visit the wind was pretty strong so we decided to give it a miss.  

If you are in the area it is worth checking out Loch Brora slightly inland which is more protected and we have also heard that the river Brora is a good option too.

Brodie Castle

We begin to tick a few castles off our list starting with Brodie Castle although I think Neal just wanted to go there because his mates name is Brodie! Brodie Castle is a 16th Century tower house built by clan Brodie and was their ancestral home for 400 years.  It is surrounded by beautiful gardens and land.  Unfortunately filming isn’t allowed inside but we’d recommend a visit and while you are there – definitely try some of their delicious waffles!!

Within the grounds is a Pictish carved stone 1200 years old.  The purpose of the stone is unknown but one use was possibly to mark a place of significance to the Pictish people.  Since carving, the stone has been moved several times, the final time being 1840 to this location.

Beautifully carved Pictish Stone

Leaving Brodie Castle we bypass Findhorn as we had visited on a previous trip but we recommend checking out Findhorn Bay and Beach for stand up paddleboarding – see our blog for more information.

A tip off from one of our instagram followers lead us to Roseisle Beach.  There is a really beautiful day use area amongst a pine plantation with ample parking.  A boardwalk leads through the sand dunes and onto a long wide beach with a line of concrete baracades and bunkers from the Second World War.  Ideal paddling conditions are when the tide is in,  but we checked out one of the concrete bunkers.

We found a really cool park up for the night with the Scottish Forestry commission who is currently allowing overnight stays for self contained camper vans and motorhomes in selected locations.

Duffus Castle just happened to be on the way so we stopped in for a wee visit.  Duffus Castle was inhabited from 1140-1705 and was one of the most secure fortifications in Scotland when first built. It was abandoned in 1705 when the second Lord Duffus died.

Even though the castle is in ruins there is a really cute Cafe in the car park worth checking out!

Duffus Castle has it’s own wee coffee trailer

Fyvie Castle was next on our itinerary. Stopping first at the beautiful walled gardens which were an abundance of colour.  Fyvie Castle has an 800 year history rich with legends, folklore and ghosts!  It is said that Robert the Bruce and Charles 1st visited Fyvie.  The guides at Five are very proud of the extra wide stone stair case which is said to have had horses racing up and down it for a bet.  Fyvie is also home to one of the largest collection of Raeburn paintings in the world.

This Boat House would make the perfect SUP House!

Haddo House was next on the list and while it isn’t a castle it certainly is huge!  Again we were unable to film inside but the house boasts an overnight stay of Queen Victoria in 1857.  In fact it was a member of this family who is said to have convinced Queen Victoria to purchase Balmoral.

Haddo was subject to a huge renovation for the new wife of the 7th Earl of Aberdeen –  Ishbel who spent 1.25 million pounds (and that was in 1880!!!). Ishbel was an interesting character, while she was quite lavish with her spending she was also very generous and was particularly interested in women’s rights establishing the Victorian Order of Nurses and was the first woman to receive an honorary degree from the University of Canada.

The Impressive Haddo House

There is an absolutely stunning portrait of her in the library and no matter where you are in the room, her foot follows you!! This picture was sourced from the internet as there is no photography allowed inside Haddo House.

Ishbel – image from here

This week was packed with Castles and this blog post is only half of it! Unfortunately we didn’t get out on our boards as each time we found a great spot our timing was off with conditions and tides but places from this episode we’d recommend exploring are Golspie Beach, Loch Brora, the River Brora, Findhorn Bay, Find Horn Beach and Roseisle Beach.

Join us next week as we return to the mainland and head east into Moray and Aberdeenshire.

If you missed part one of our SUP Safari Scotland to the Isle of Arran you can read about it here.

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