Duration: 2.5 hours.
This is a very pleasant ramble in typical lower-Moray countryside, a mostly sheltered and benign landscape, characterised by mixed farmland and wooded hillsides. The route takes a wide circumference around the ruin of Blervie Castle, with the high tower often in sight across fields on the walker’s left side. The undoubted focal point on the route is the celebrated viewpoint on Califer Hill, where there is a marvellous vista over the Forres area, with Findhorn Bay particularly prominent, and with the cliffs of the 'Black Isle' and the Sutors of Cromarty further away over the Moray Firth, providing an impressive backdrop. On a clear day, the hills of Caithness, and others, more widely across northern Scotland, are visible. To assist, there is a viewfinder which identifies places and hilltops, near and far. The descent from the viewpoint on quiet minor roads provides further extended opportunities to enjoy the views. It is on this return leg that the route gets closest to Blervie Castle. Thanks to Wikipedia for the following: “Blervie Castle is a ruined 16th-century Z-plan tower house. The property was originally held by the Comyns, and it is thought that there was a royal castle here in the 13th century - the Exchequer Rolls mention repair of the royal castle in anticipation of Haakon IV of Norway’s invasion of 1263.It passed to the Dunbars, who built the present castle in about 1600. The Mackintoshes purchased it early in the 18th century, and subsequently sold it to the Duffs of Braco, Earls Fife. In about 1776 the castle was partly demolished to build Blervie Mains”. The walk starts and finishes at Rafford Church, a large and very visually attractive example of the Gothic Revival style, built in 1820 to replace a smaller older parish kirk.
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