Forres is a town in Moray in northeast Scotland, with a population in 2016 of 10,100. By the second century AD it was sufficiently famous (it's unclear whatever for) to be mapped as Οὐάραρ εἴσχυσις - "Varar Estuary" - by Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria. Forres has whisky distilleries that can be visited and an elegant castle, but Ptolemy wasn't to know that.
- 1 Lidl. West end of Forres over the 1st exit from roundabout if approaching from the west and 3rd exit if from the East. GBP.
In Gaelic, Forres is Farrais, meaning "near water", the Findhorn estuary. The earliest traces of local habitation were found a few miles inland and date to circa 3000 BC, but the town only emerges into history in the 10th century, along with the unified nation of Scotland. Precisely how unified was what its nobles mostly fought about, and one such warrior was Duncan I (1001-1040). In 1039 he attacked Durham, which turned out to be not at all in unified Scotland, and his shattered army limped home. Nothing daunted, next year he marched north against Moray, a large territory stretching all the way to Viking Caithness. Moray was ruled by Macbeth, who killed Duncan in battle near Elgin. "That shall be king hereafter . . . " - so Macbeth was crowned King of Scotland. No witchcraft was involved, but some 560 years later a fellow called Shakespeare, living in an age that (unlike the 10th century) fervently believed in witches, reckoned he could improve the story.
- "How far is't called to Forres? What are these, so withered and wild in their attire?"
- - Banquo hesitates to ask the witches for travel directions
Trains run every couple of hours from Inverness via Nairn to Forres, taking 30 min, and continuing to Elgin, Keith, Huntly, Inverurie, Dyce and Aberdeen (another 90 min). A walk-up single from Inverness was £10.40 in 2022, with a return costing £15.40.
1 Forres railway station is on A96 bypass half a mile north of town. There's a staffed ticket office and machines, and a waiting room with toilets.
Stagecoach Bus 10 runs every 30 min from Inverness via Nairn, taking just over an hour to Forres (where there isn't a bus station, they just follow High Street.) They continue to Elgin where alternate buses turn back, with an hourly service trundling cross-country through Fochabers, Keith, Huntly and Inverurie to Aberdeen, another 3 hours 30 min.
By road follow A96: Forres is 25 miles from Inverness and 70 miles from Aberdeen.
It's a small town, so it is easily walkable on foot. Bus 10 (above) takes you to Brodie Castle. Bus 31 runs hourly between Forres and Findhorn, taking about 30 min.
- Forres town centre is mostly Victorian low-rise, a lot more peaceful since the bypass was built. The Tolbooth was built in 1838; no tours.
- 1 Sueno's Stone is a 6.5 m sandstone slab with Pictish carvings, probably 10th century, on the main road east end of Forres. No-one knows who Sueno or Sven was (if he existed), but it probably commemorates a battle victory. It's nowadays enclosed in a glass case to protect it from the weather, and to stop the three witches escaping - in the Macbeth legend, they were eventually imprisoned within the stone.
- The Witches Stone on Victoria Rd just east of Grant Park is a boulder supposedly marking the spot where a 11th century witch was elaborately put to death, for having cursed King Duncan. The story doesn't stand up because witch-hunts didn't get going in Scotland until centuries later, then James V made up for lost time.
- Grant Park is along Victoria Rd east of town centre. There's a cricket pitch, bowling green, play-park, floral displays, and a sunken garden where Forres House used to stand. Woodland walks lead up to Nelson's Tower on Cluny Hill.
- 2 Nelson's Tower, 6 Clovenside Rd, Forres IV36 3BT. Apr-Sept daily 14:00-16:00. Monument to Admiral Horatio Nelson at the summit of Cluny Hill in Grant Park, completed in 1812. In summer you can climb to the top for great views over Moray Firth - the Red Ensign (the Merchant "Red Duster") is flown whenever the tower is open. Donation.
- 3 Falconer Museum, Tolbooth St, Forres IV36 1PH, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Closed. A range of collections and displays about the history of Forres and Moray, but closed ufn.
- 4 Benromach Distillery, Invererne Road, Forres IV36 3EB, ☏ , email@example.com. Distillery producing Speyside single malt whisky. Production has been in fits and starts since 1900, with the latest run from 1998 and capacity 400,000 litres of cask strength whisky per annum. Tours and shop are closed until 2022.
- 5 Dallas Dhu distillery museum, Mannachie Road, Forres IV36 2RR (2 miles south of town centre). Closed ufn. This distillery operated between 1899 and 1983. It's now a museum, showing production techniques of the early 20th century.
- 6 Brodie Castle, Brodie IV36 2TE (5 km west of Forres on A96), ☏ . Jun Sa Su 11:00-15:00, July Aug W-Su 11:00-15:00. 16th-century tower house, expanded into a grand mansion in the early 19th century. It has a collection of historic furniture, porcelain and paintings. The surrounding grounds include landscaped gardens (extra fee), the national daffodil collection, woodland walks, and the Pictish "Rodney's Stone". The place is sometimes booked out as a wedding venue. Castle Adult £11, conc £9.50, child £6.50, NTS / NT free.
- 7 Kinloss Abbey was Cistercian, founded in 1150 and dissolved in 1601. There's just a few scraps of masonry within a modern graveyard, always accessible.
- 8 Findhorn Heritage Centre (daily 14:00-17:00) displays the fishing port, washed away by the river. The underground chamber was a store for the ice used to pack the salmon.
- Dava Way is a path along a old railway between Forres and Grantown on Spey. The full route is about 23 miles / 38 km, suitable for cycling, through woodland, farms and heath.
- Golf: Forres GC is east side of the village, with Kinloss GC five miles east on B9089 towards Burghead.
- Moray Art Centre is at Findhorn, open F-Su 10:00-16:00.
- Incur dreadful bad luck by quoting Shakespeare's Macbeth at inopportune moments. The Three Witches met on the heath just outside town, and King Duncan's castle was here while Macbeth's was in Inverness. Duncan and Macbeth were real 11th century rulers, but Macbeth's line died out, so Shakespeare could depict him as a royal demonic villian without getting into trouble.
- Transform human consciousness at The Findhorn Foundation, an alternative lifestyle village on Findhorn Bay.
- Forres Highland Games are held in July on Grant Park in Forres. The next are probably Sat 2 July 2022, tbc.
- Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival is probably next held 15-21 Sept 2022, tbc.
- Tesco is at the west end of Forres and is open from M-Sa 07:00-23:00, Su 08:00-20:00.
- Babalu is a gift shop at 68 High St, it is open from M-Sa 10:00-17:00.
- Mosset Tavern, Gordon Street, Forres IV36 1DL, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 11:30-21:00. Child-friendly real ale pub and restaurant on riverside, a block north of Main St. It's variously been a mill, laundry, joiner's yard and undertakers.
- The Peppermill, 118 High St, Forres IV36 1NP, ☏ . W-Sa 09:00-15:00. Trad breakfasts and lunch.
- Main Street in Forres also has Forres Tandoori, Northern Fish, Pizza Pan, Cardamom Spice, Cafe 1496 and Speedy Pepper.
- Forres High St has Thistle Bar, Legends, Red Lion aka Beastie Bar, and Eagle.
- Findhorn has the Kimberley Inn and Crown & Anchor Inn.
- Wooha is a brewery on the road to Burghead. No tours.
- Distilleries: see above for Benromach and Dallas Dhu. Glenburgie Distillery 5 miles east of town makes whisky which almost all goes into blends, though with a capacity of 4,200,000 litres pure alcohol per annum you might come across a single malt bottling. It's now owned by Pernod Ricard, no tours. See Elgin for distilleries further east.
- 1 Findhorn Bay Holiday Park, The Park, Findhorn IV36 3TY, ☏ . Open Apr-Oct, this park accepts tourers and campers - other parks around Forres are just static caravans on long-term lets.
- 2 Cluny Bank Hotel, 69 St Leonards Rd, Forres IV36 1DW, ☏ . Restaurant with seven rooms in a Victorian mansion. B&B double £120.
- 3 Ramnee Hotel, Victoria Rd, Forres IV36 3BN, ☏ . Smart hotel in an Edwardian villa, good dining, dog-friendly. B&B double £150.
- 4 Old Mill Inn, 7 Brodie, Forres IV36 2TD, ☏ . Comfy inn and gastropub on the main road to Nairn. B&B double £130.
- 5 The Old Kirk, 1 Ryyoan Place, Dyke IV36 2TL (Follow signs for Brodie Castle), ☏ . 3-roomed B&B in a tastefully converted Victorian church manse.
- 6 The Loft Camping & Glamping, East Grange Farm, Kinloss IV36 2UD, ☏ . The Loft is an events venue, with a woodland campsite that gets great reviews. Four person tent £27.50, wigwam £60.
As of Aug 2021, Forres has 4G from EE and O2 and a basic mobile signal from Three and Vodafone. It's patchy towards Findhorn or further out along A96. 5G has not reached this area.
- West to the city of Inverness, the Victorian hub of the Highlands.
- Nairn is a genteel beach resort on the way to Inverness.
- East to Elgin with its ruined cathedral.
- South towards Grantown on Spey, classical whisky country, and the Cairngorms National Park.