Bus trip to the Cabrach, and evening meal in Dufftown

Saturday, 12th August

A total of 30 members took part in this outing to the Cabrach – 24 travelled by bus from Elgin and six joined us at the Cabrach.

It was pouring with rain as we left Elgin and continued to rain all the way up to Dufftown and on up to the Cabrach. On arrival there was some confusion as to where we were actually going, where the bus should park, and the fact that there is another visitor centre (for Dorenell Wind Farm) very nearby. However we were only delayed by about 10 minutes and by the time we got off the bus it had stopped raining. 

We received a very warm welcome from Jonathan Christie (CEO) and Sam Dowdall (Development manager) of the Cabrach Trust. The tea and coffee, cakes and biscuits were much appreciated. Jonathan gave us an introductory talk, expanding and developing the talk he had given us in March in the Town Hall. He outlined the history of the Trust which was founded in 2011, by Grant Gordon, whose family distilling firm William Grant and Sons have been connected to the Cabrach for centuries. After the initial purchase of Inverharroch farm, development was slow, and lockdown brought activity to a halt. However since then great progress has been made. While the original vision of a working distillery, heritage centre and sustainable forestry and agriculture has not been lost, smaller projects have been initiated – the all ability Discovery Trail leading down to the banks of the Deveron, the wild flower meadow, the planting of trees, the restoration of the old smithy, courses on weaving, basket making, stained glass etc, all of them fully subscribed, and the return of the Cabrach games at the end of July after a break of 87 years. Building work on the new distillery is on track to be completed next year, when whisky will “return to the Cabrach” once the centre of distilling, after about 170 years. 

The sun was shining when we set off to explore some of these developments for ourselves and walked the length of the Discovery Trail through the meadow, past the ponds and along the restored banks of the Deveron. There was also an opportunity to visit the building site which will soon be the new distillery. It was an interesting and enjoyable afternoon in beautiful surroundings. When it was time to leave, the bus driver kindly agreed to take us on a tour of the Upper Cabrach, passing the Church, now used for occasional weddings and funerals, and one service a year. The road was very narrow with sharp bends and quite a challenging drive, but the views were outstanding. The rain started again as we reached the Dufftown road, but miraculously stopped when we parked in the square. The Whisky Capital Inn (previously the Commercial) provided an excellent meal, generous portions, well presented and with very good service. We returned to Elgin in the evening sunshine. 

Especial thanks to Jonathan and Sam at the Cabrach Trust, and also the team at the Whisky Capital Inn, and Kineil buses and their obliging -and skilful- driver.

Sara Marsh
August 2023

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