The old county of Moray (murr-ay), centred on the county town of Elgin, lies at the heart of an ancient Celtic earldom and is famed for its mild climate and rich farmland – the barley fields of the 19th century once provided the raw material for the Speyside whisky distilleries, one of the region's main attractions for present-day visitors.
Strathdon – the valley of the River Don – is home to several of Aberdeenshire's finest castles, and stretches westward from Kintore, 13 miles northwest of Aberdeen, taking in the villages of Kemnay, Monymusk, Alford (ah-ford) and the tiny hamlet of Strathdon. The A944 parallels the lower valley; west of Alford, the A944, A97 and A939 follow the river's upper reaches.
Banff & Macduff
The handsome Georgian town of Banff and the busy fishing port of Macduff lie on either side of Banff Bay, separated only by the mouth of the River Deveron. Banff Links – 800m of clean golden sand stretching to the west – Duff House and Macduff's impressive aquarium pull in the holiday crowds.
Fraserburgh, affectionately known to locals as the Broch, is Europe's largest shellfish port. The town's fortune was founded on the fishing industry and has suffered from its general decline, but the harbour is still fairly busy and is an interesting place to wander around; there are also good sandy beaches east of the town.