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River Findhorn

 

 


Tour Scotland, River Findhorn

River Findhorn Scotland

Banchor Beat, River Findhorn, Scotland. 10x8 Photograph (25x20cm) SAL9217-01 from Arctic Photo.

This at times fast flowing stream rises in the Monadhliath mountains and runs over sixty miles to enter the Moray Firth at the hamlet of Findhorn on Findhorn Bay. It is well-known to anglers as a fine salmon river and contains along its upper reaches many fine rock pools, although
these of course are jealously preserved. Sea trout and brown trout also abound and there are a number of small lochs around Forres which are also heavily stocked. Actually Monadhliath, the ‘grey moor’, is drained by several such rivers and the tributaries of the Findhorn are as lonely as they are numerous. Starting above the great hills of Newtonmore, the Findhorn finds its way across three counties, Inverness, Nairn and Moray but, because its course in general crosses the main routes of communication rather than follows them, it is a river that is little known to tourists.

River Findhorn Scotland

River Findhorn, Scotland. 10x8 Photograph (25x20cm) SAL2001-14 from Arctic Photo.

Its upper reaches pass through glens and countryside of great and rare beauty, especially in the region of Coignafearn, where it runs through a narrow birch-clad glen and on down to the woodlands of Glenmazeran and the Findhorn bridge. For most of its final passage towards the Moray Firth the Findhorn follows the shallow course of Strath Dearn, drops through the gorge of the Streens and into Ardclach. To the west is lonely Culloden Moor which marked the nadir of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s fortunes during the epic days of the ‘45 but the Findhorn hurries on and reaches the outstanding spectacle of the Dulsie gorge. Here it is crossed by one of the finest bridges to grace its length, a handsome structure built to carry the
military road to Fort George about 1750.

Below, at Ardclach, the Findhorn’s waters lap the foot of the church, built in 1626. A tale that is told of this structure is that it was so constructed that people
from either bank of the river could gain easy access. The later addition of the bell tower in 1655 was to serve the double purpose of belfry and watch-tower. Again it is said that cattle thieves became so frustrated at its warning note sounding the alarm that they eventually
stole the bell from the steeple and sank it for ever in one of the Findhorn’s deepest pools.

Another outstanding bridge crossing is found at Daltulich where a single span leaps across the tumbling waters from out of a beautiful forest area. Here is to be found Randolph’s Leap, two rocky outriders that pinch in the full course of the river like some craggy vice. Here Alistair Bane of the Comyns was ambushed by Randolph Moray and, following a bitter rearguard action, was forced to jump for his life to escape the wrath of his old enemy. At Relugas there is marked on a great stone the high water
mark of the dreadful flood of August, 1829. The waters, swollen by a deluge up in the mountains, crashed down the strath that night and at this point were recorded some fifty feet above the normal channel. The power of this flood carried away a new three-arched bridge at
Findhorn and the next morning fishing smacks were moving to and from over the flooded fields, searching for survivors.

The road from Elgin passes over the river near Forres and a graceful single-arch bridge now carries the traffic.
Nearby is the famous ‘blasted heath’ of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, and, true to the tradition, many local tales of
witchcraft are told of this lonely area. In the main street of Forres stands a stone recording how the last known witch was rolled down Cluny Hill in a barrel of nails and then burned to death.

Joined by the Divie, the Findhorn runs its last miles through the great Darnaway Forest region and the estates of Altyre, planted it is said, with thirteen million
trees, including a million oaks, although the numbers have been much diminished over the years. At the estuary of the Findhorn the bay is edged in on its north-west sides by the Culbin Sands. The traditional defence of the hinterland against the encroachment of the sand was the marram grass which bound together the embankments, but during the 17th century this was used more and
more for thatching with a result that was a disaster. Uninhibited, the sands were driven inland and, starting with the great storm of 1676. they gradually engulfed
the old village of Findhorn and covering the once fertile fields with more than two feet of sand. Repeated attempts to reclaim this land from the sand failed and even Culbin Manor was buried. Nowadays reclamation is being aided by the planting of numerous pines and firs,
protected by brushwood thatching.

Findhorn village, at the mouth of the river, today is well established as a fishing village and a yachting centre and
the sands have become more of an attraction now than a threat to their very livelihood. At nearby Kinloss can be
found the remains of a 12th century abbey, while just up the road is historic Elgin, a royal burgh and cathedral city of world renown.

The Findhorn Foundation is located in northeast Scotland on the Moray Firth coast. There are two campuses: The Park, adjacent to the village of Findhorn, and Cluny Hill College which is 5 miles away in the town of Forres.

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