Celebrating Moray’s Buildings

I like to think that here in the Ace Tours/Taxis HQ I operate an open door policy so that my drivers and office staff can pop in with whatever is troubling them, or just to tell me how much they enjoy working here in this beautiful part of Scotland and working for such a great boss  (yes, don’t hear much of the latter!).     Or maybe it’s just that I like hearing the office banter and to have an ear on what’s going on!

So when I hear that Moray is taking part in Doors Open Day on Saturday 22 September, I feel an urge to support it, although this doors open day is not about being a good boss but about giving the public the chance to see inside some of Moray’s great buildings.    For this one day, participating buildings in Moray, will be opening their doors to the public to come in and admire the architecture, wallow in the history and hopefully learn something new about their area.

A number of historic buildings are taking part such as Inverene House in Forres, the old Austin tearooms building in Elgin, the new Glasgow School of Art building on the outskirts of Forres (morning only).   None of these require advance booking and all are all free to visit.

This year the beautiful seaside town of Lossiemouth has a star attraction with Ramsay Macdonald’s house, the Hillocks.  The first Labour Prime Minister built this house for his family over a century ago, so that he could stay close to his mother often flying up to stay here during his time in office in the 1920s.  His granddaughter lives in it still and keeps many of his artefacts.

Whilst in Lossiemouth you can’t miss Covesea lighthouse which stands as a landmark to the town and its coast, a tour of the lighthouse is also on offer as part of the day on the 22nd.   Described as ‘a rare combination of solidity, elegance and simplicity’, Covesea Lighthouse was designed by Alan Stevenson, one of the talented generation of engineers, and uncle of the writer Robert Louis Stevenson.    It first began working in 1846 but was extinguished in 2012 by the Lighthouse Board and taken over by the local community. (Covesea Lighthouse Community).

These two events and a fascinating tour of Forres Museum’s store room, and heritage walks around Findhorn and Lossiemouth require prior booking and will be popular (the Burghead one is already full) , so don’t delay.

For full details of these places, and all those participating in Moray and indeed throughout Scotland see the Doors Open Day website.  www.doorsopendays.org.uk.

But if you can’t make the  22nd September, you don’t have to miss out.  Moray has many historic buildings which are regularly open to the public, some free of charge such as Duffus Castle, a well preserved example of a motte-and-bailey castle. (A motte is a large artificial mound with steep sides which the castle is built on) and some, for a small entry fee, such as Brodie Castle which is owned by  the National Trust for Scotland and Ballindalloch Castle www.ballindallochcastle.co.uk which is privately owned, and open for the season until the end of September.

However one of my favourite buildings is Elgin Cathedral. https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/elgin-cathedral/ Back in 1224 when it was first built as the principal church of the bishops of Moray, it was such a landmark that it was dubbed the lantern of the north.  Now a ruin, its strategic position in Moray and its imposing (remaining) structures make it a must visit on any tour of Moray.   The Cathedral is open to the public, seven days a week and run by Historic Environment Scotland who also run the nearby Spynie Palace, also well worth the visit.

Ace Tours can book visits to these historic landmarks, take you there in the comfort and style of our modern taxis and add in stops for shopping, refreshments or just to photograph the beautiful scenery.