Less than an hour’s drive from Aberdeen International Airport and halfway to Inverness is the attractive market town of Huntly in the heart of rural Aberdeenshire, surrounded by hills and where two rivers meet – the Bogie and the Deveron – as they meander through the countryside to Banffshire’s Dolphin Coast. The town is steeped in history, is the ancestral home to the powerful Clan Gordon, and has the magnificent ruins of the 12th century Huntly Castle just ten minutes on foot from the town square.
The fine architecture of Huntly Square is the perfect setting for the local farmers‘ market, held on the first Saturday of every month (there are farmers‘ markets in other towns in Aberdeenshire towns on other Saturdays). At the Huntly Farmers‘ market you can meet local farmers who sell local produce, – everything has to be grown or processed by the stallholder themselves, and everything comes from the area, does not go through other processors and is really local, authentic food. Stalls include (in their proper season) game (local venison, rabbit, pigeon, pheasant), fish, award-winning chutneys, cheeses, vegetables, jam, fudge and even cakes. The stallholders are all passionate about their products and are interesting local characters; they enjoy talking with their customers, to tell them about their farms and how they make things, so that you know all about what you are buying. As the owner of a small guest house, I buy lots of things at the market so if you stay with me, you know that what you are eating comes from the area. In September there is a much bigger farmers market during the Huntly Food and Farming Festival.
I am Fiona Manson and, with David, I run Coynachie Guest House; a short 10-minute drive from Huntly, in a secluded setting in a wooded valley. Coynachie House has been awarded four stars by VisitScotland, the national tourist board, I am a local ‚quine‘ (the word for girl/woman) and I make a point of producing delicious home-cooked breakfast which include ingredients from the farmers‘ markets. After a hearty breakfast you can enjoy six circular walks from the front door into the hills, with fine hilltop views and plenty of places for taking photographs of the area. The Moray Firth Coast (where you can see dolphins and visit small fishing villages) and the Cairngorms National Park (with mountains, challenging walks and wildlife) are both within an hour’s drive.
But there is also plenty to see and do in the immediate area of Huntly (which has been awarded the prestigious title of the most ‚Creative Place‘ in Scotland), so you may want to stay here a little longer than you planned!
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