Portsoy

8th June 2007 at 01:00
Elaine Carrick teaches on supply at Buchanhaven Primary School in Peterhead. She lives in Portsoy, once a centre for herring fishing.

Favourite place when you have time off?

My house is beside the 16th-century harbour in Portsoy. At this time of year, through my bedroom windows, I can hear the male eider ducks go "ooooh!" to the females. At night I hear the herons arrive; they make a distinctive "cawk" sound.

I get up early and it's wonderful to see a heron in the golden light on the harbour. We have a multitude of walks on lovely beaches. We used to have barbecues on the beach when people gathered driftwood to make fires - that was before gas-fired barbecues.

You can see dolphins go past in the Moray Firth. It's a rural area. There are places of special scientific interest where you find orchids and also beautiful woodlands and a great variety of flora and fauna. The Speyside whisky trail is close.

Lunchtime treats?

At the Cafe Failte in Elgin you can get a nice bowl of lentil soup and a good plate of mince and tatties. Or there's the beautiful Craigellachie Hotel. Visit www.craigellachie.com

Evening delights?

The Ramnee (www.ramneehotel.com) in Forres on the way to Nairn is absolutely excellent always - especially the venison casserole with sage.

Inland, I like the Old Monastery at Drybridge near Buckie (www.oldmonastery.com), which was converted from an old chapel into a restaurant.

Visitors beware

Many restaurants around here have been in the hands of one family for a long time, but then they change hands and are sometimes taken over by people who are not so good. So one bides one's time until the good people come back.

When's a good time to come?

Nairn, about 40 to 50 minutes' drive away, holds an annual book festival (June 9 to 16, www.nairnfestival.co.uk). At the end of the month (June 30 to July 1) Portsoy is holding its annual Scottish Traditional Boat Festival (www.stbf.bizland.com), with sailing boats and lots of other events going on. In October, sometimes we see fantastic northern lights.

Don't miss

All along this coast are fishing villages - each is different in character.

The next along from Portsoy is Whitehills, which has a wonderful wet fish shop called Downies (www.downiefish.co.uk). It does a hot smoked salmon that's a real treat and sells unusual things such as gurnard and snapper.

If you're staying in self-catering accommodation, it's the place to go.

Remember to buy

At Keith, there's a lovely old Scottish house with a cafe and an excellent clothesdesigner gifts shop called Boogie Woogie (www.boogiewoogieshop.com) Find out more

Visit www.highland2007.com for information on events in the area. For information and to book accommodation, visit www.visitscotland.com.

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