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Issue 3 - Tony Archer's Speyside

Scotland Magazine Issue 3
July 2002


This article is 16 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Tony Archer's Speyside

This issue's Q&A features Tony Archer, Manager of the Moray Firth wildlife centre. Also the centre's founder, he has been running the project for five years.

Q: How long have you lived/worked in the area?
A: I have lived in Moray for 10 years now, having moved here from the north-west Sutherland coast, where we lived for 10 years after moving up to Scotland from York.

Q: How would you describe the area to someone who’s never been?
A: Magnificent! Moray has such a unique mix of habitats from mountain ranges to superb sandy beaches and rich forestry and farming areas. The area has a pace of life which sets it apart from the everyday hustle and bustle of most places. Its coastal area is well known for its mild climate which historically has 40 more days of sunshine than anywhere else in Scotland, richly deserving its title of ‘Scotland’s Riviera’.

Q: What are the area’s main attractions, in your opinion?
A: Superb wildlife watching opportunities. Dolphins, whales, seals, otters, osprey and a vast array of birdlife make the area one of the best wildlife watching areas in the UK. Wonderful sandy beaches and some great walking opportunities including the Speyside Way, a long-distance walk that cuts through the heart of Moray.

Q: Tell us a little about the Moray Firth Wildlife Centre.
A: The Wildlife Centre is located at the mouth of the river Spey, housed in a former salmon station built in 1783, which we began renovating in 1996. We have an exhibition all about the Moray Firth dolphins and local wildlife which we operate in association with the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS). A café serving organic meals and a wildlife gift shop make the Centre a firm favourite with visitors to the area. Fantastic views across the Moray Firth and the opportunity to watch dolphins and other wildlife in their natural environment are undoubtedly the star attraction of the site. You can find out more at our web site, which is at

Q: Has devolution changed Speyside and Scotland as a whole in your eyes?
A: I can’t honestly say that I’ve noticed any difference in everyday life since devolution. One negative thing was that it occurred at a time when the English Parliament was bringing in new measures to protect wildlife from disturbance and cruelty. As a result Scotland’s wildlife got left behind and has not had the same level of protection over the last few years. Hopefully we will soon catch up in that area.

Q: Do you have a favourite bar/pub in the region?
A: The Garmouth Hotel or the Spey Bay Hotel are two good watering holes to choose from, but my favourite is a glass of wine on the shingle beach just outside our house. It provides a stunning view across the Moray Firth, while the traditional pub games of darts and pool are replaced with stone boules on the beach.

Q: Is there any way Speyside could be improved?
A: Better public transport links in rural locations.

Q: What is your fondest memory or experience of the area?
A: Back in 1993 I was paddling my kayak just outside of Hopeman Harbour on the Moray Coast when I was surrounded by five dolphins who swam alongside my tiny craft for about 20 minutes. It was an experience that changed my life, my most vivid memory.

Q: Which tourist attractions stand out?
A: Apart from the Moray Firth Wildlife Centre you mean? Well, yes – we are lucky to have some of the best quality attractions in Scotland on our doorstep. My particular favourites are Baxters of Speyside – well they do make good jam! – and The Glenlivet distillery. I’m a sucker for a free sample!

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