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5 things not to miss this spring in Speyside

Picture this, it’s a sunny day in Scotland. Spring has sprung, lambs are gambolling in the fields and sun is glinting off the train windows as the scenic journey delivers you from Edinburgh to Elgin in the heart of Speyside. Here’s 5 things not to miss…

1. Get cosy at The Craigellachie Hotel

A stone’s throw from the River Spey you’ll find The Craigellachie Hotel, the oldest whisky hotel in Scotland. Amongst its 26 cosy rooms, open fires and a very friendly hotel dog nestles the Quaich Bar, established over 120 years ago and full to the brim with 1,000 different whiskies to sup as the sun sets. So, if you are finding the hotel too comfy to leave to make it out to a couple of the 50 distilleries in the area, the best will be brought to you. Couple that with dinner at the atmospheric on-site Copper Dog pub with its farm to fork fare and you’ve got the ideal hotel stay in this famous region. Don’t miss the haggis bon bons whatever you do.

2. Sup whisky at Benriach’s on-site bar

The storied Benriach distillery is situated on an old farmstead in north Speyside, drawing water from deep beneath the distillery. It’s a traditional operation and one of only seven distilleries in Scotland that continue to floor malt barley. With these traditions, however, there’s a truly creative expression across their range of three styles of whisky; classic unpeated, Highland peated and triple distilled through using their eclectic ‘sleeping beauties’ casks from around the world. If you aren’t a whisky aficionado, don’t worry, a visit here will take you by the hand through the process leaving ample time for a tasting experience in the gorgeous new bar. It’s the perfect visit for whisky obsessed visitors and those looking to learn alike.

3. Explore fairytale cobbled Elgin

This adorable town was once a cathedral city and what remains of the cathedral is definitely worth a visit. By night the town is filled with local watering holes and dining spots such as the delightful cafe-bar the Drouthy Cobbler hidden down a festoon lit alleyway. Dine on (yes, more!) haggis bon bons, mac and cheese croquettes and burgers washed down with some classic cocktails. Leave space for a wickedly decadent baked salted chocolate dessert.

4. Blow away the cobwebs paddle boarding down the Spey

Now you’ve skirted around the river but it would be rude not to get out on it, or in it, as you prefer. You can’t miss a leisurely paddle board along this, the fastest flowing river in Scotland, taking in the views on the banks. Book in a session with Alan at Aye Can who will take everyone’s levels in his stride and deliver a one-off experience. Be sure to have someone meet you with some towels and a dram of Benriach.

5. Travel around the world with Ghillie Basan

You can’t come to this part of the world without spending time with author and broadcaster Ghillie Basan. Book in for a Food Safari in her colourful rural home near Tomnavoulin at the Braes of Glenlivet where it’ll be all hands on deck to make tasting menu slates of delicious bite sized morsels from rose poached apricots with harissa filling to fat pieces of salmon wrapped in foraged garlic mustard leaves. Hope for a warm day so you can sit out on the porch in the sunshine listening to the chirping of birds while nibbling away at your plate, complete with a whisky pairing.