Elgin To Pluscarden By Lossiemouth, Findhorn And Forres

Dee, Don, And Spey

ROUTE LENGTH: 40 MILES

By Road

Take the northern route from Elgin (A941). Hill of Spynie is on the right. Take the left fork to B9135, where the old church of Kinnedar will be on the right after Lossiemouth Airfield. Turn left onto the B9040, passing through Hopeman and then Burghead. Return south along the B9011, or take it direct from Kinloss, to reach Forres. Turn left on the A96, and Sueno’s Stone will be on your left. You can enter into Forres by taking the A96 further, andturning left onto Market Street, and left onto High Street. To exit Forres, turn south onto Tolbooth Street, then straight onto St Leonard’s Road, onto theB9010 south. Rafford will be on the left. Continue along the B9010, and turn left at the sign for Pluscarden Abbey (open daily, 4:30am to 8:30pm daily).

By Cycle

Ride North Street out of Elgin (A941). Hill of Spynie, including Spynie Palace and Bishop’s Well, areaccessible on two right-turns on the road. At the split in the road, take the left fork to B9135, eventually becoming Muirton Road. The old church of Kinnedar will be on the right after Lossiemouth Airfield.

Afterwards, at the end of Muirton Road, turn left onto the B9040, passing through Hopeman and then Burghead. In Burghead, turn right at roundabout (3rd exit) otno St Aethan’s Road (B9013).Follow until it meets Grant Street and continue on. Turn right at Church Street, with the Well accessible from it from Dunbar Street on the left. Ride out of town via St Aethan’s Road. Turn right onto the B9089 to Kinloss, where its abbey will bevisible and accessible on the left. From there, you can ride the B9011 to Findhorn.

Afterwards, return south along the B9011, or take it direct from Kinloss, to reach Forres. Turn left onthe A96, and Sueno’s Stone will be on your left. You can enter into Forres by taking the A96 further,and turning left onto Market Street, and left onto High Street. To exit Forres, turn south onto Tolbooth Street, then straight onto St Leonard’s Road, onto theB9010 south. Rafford will be on the left. Continue along the B9010, and turn left at the sign for Pluscarden Abbey (open daily, 4:30am to 8:30pm daily).

By Public Transport

From Elgin, you can take the 33 north. You can decant at Edmonde Gardens and walking 16 minutes north along Lossiemouth Gardens then the first right to reach Hill of Spynie. Take the 33 all the way to Lossiemouth, getting off after the airfields to reach the church of Kinnedar.

To reach Burghead, you need to take the 33 back to Elgin, then the 32 to Burghead for the well.

To reach Kinloss, again take the 32 back to Elgin, then take the 11A to Inverness, getting off at Findhorn Road and walking or taking the 31 into Kinloss.

The 31 from Kinloss to Forres. From Forres to Pluscarden, there is no direct route. To reach Pluscarden, however, is either taxi from Elgin, or taking the bus back to Newtown House near Elgin and arranging a taxi from there. Possibly you can arrange a taxi from Forres. Alternatively, ignore the next leg, which is very rural, and go to Dufftown (taking the 10 or 11 back to Elgin, then 36 to Dufftown).

To check times go to Traveline Scotland and click on Plan your Journey on left side of page.

Going out of Elgin north towards Lossiemouth , the old parish church beyond the woods at Hill of Spynie, was the site of the first cathedral of the diocese. Ramsay MacDonald, the first and some would say only socialist Prime Minister of Britain is buried here. A little further on to the right is the ruined Bishop’s Palace and Castle which were once on an island, before Loch Spynie to the east was drained to its present size. After Spynie take the left fork to Kinneddar, where the old church marks the monastery of St Gerardine of Lossie. He also lived in a cave on the seafront, now lost, where he kept a lamp lit to guide sailors into harbour. So he became a saint of light and seeing. To the locals he was simply ‘the Halyman’. Some fine carved stones from Kinneddar are in the Elgin Museum. Old Lossie sits at the mouth of the river with superb beaches stretching in either direction.

Keep to the coast road west of Lossiemouth where you see the Halliman Skerries, named for Gerardine, offshore. The fishing village of Hopeman comes next and then the village of Burghead, which was formerly a Pictish fort on the headland. Here beneath a cottage garden is located the superb Burghead Well. Originally a pagan sanctuary this underground chamber later became a Christian baptistery- a dramatic descent into underground darkness followed by a re-ascent to the light. The famous Burghead Bull carvings come from here and examples can be seen in Burghead Library and the Elgin Museum. The Well is unattended and keys need to be collected from the headland visitor centre or other locations in the village depending on the season.

The road goes inland across Burghead Bay to Kinloss and then Findhorn. There was a Cistercian Abbey at Kinloss, now a fragmentary ruin, and the area is better known for its modern airfield. At Findhorn by contrast the modest parish church has been outgrown by the modern Findhorn Community with its inclusive spiritual philosophy, and improvised architecture. The impressive Universal Hall at Findhorn is now a regular cultural venue for Moray. The road slips down from Kinloss to Forres by way of Sueno’s Stone, an outstanding example of Pictish monumental art.

From the attractive burgh of Forres, we go southwest through Rafford and then turn left into the valley of the Blackburn for Pluscarden. The restored Abbey, now Benedictine, is a revival masterpiece, recovering a substantial medieval ruin for adapted modern use. The church is an inspiring space illuminated by stained glass made at the Abbey. An old pilgim destination has been splendidly renewed.

Light on sea and sand
Boats rocking in harbour
Sunrise on the water
And sunset behind the mountains
Our eyes are open
To the shape and spirit
Of creation’s patterns
To quiet atmospheres
And sudden illumination.

Pilgrim Journeys

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