This area includes Fochabers, Kingston, Garmouth, Spey Bay, Urquhart, Mosstodloch and Lhanbryde.
The present Fochabers dates from 1776 when the first of the feuars of the old town moved to new sites as delineated by plans drawn by the Edinburgh architect John Baxter. The old town stood in the vicinity of the present artificial lake but its "inconvenient nearness" to Gordon Castle was not to the liking of the 4th Duke of Gordon and his Duchess, Jane Marshall, who later was instrumental in raising the Gordon Highlanders.
The name Fochabers, with its various spellings over the centuries, is thought to derive from the Gaelic 'foth' = land and 'abar' or 'eabar' = marsh.
Garmouth and Kingston-on-Spey
The villages of Garmouth and Kingston-on-Spey have been linked ever since Charles II landed at the latter in 1650. They stand approximately half a mile apart, being joined by a narrow winding road skirted to the west mainly by agricultural land and to the east by the Wee Spey River and by Garmouth and Kingston Golf Club to the east. The course itself is not too long, but is testing, due to its mixed nature of links and parkland.
Garmouth, or Garmach as it was initially known, was the scene of the return from exile of King Charles II in 1650. He reluctantly signed the Solemn League of Covenant here, a document whose intent was to impose a Scots-style Presbyterianism on Episcopal England.
The Maggie Fair, held annually on the last Saturday in June, is one of the few ancient Scottish Fairs still surviving. The Fair itself was established in 1587, but was given the title of 'The Maggie Fair' in 1681 in memory of a much loved and respected member of the Innes family, Lady Margaret Kerr, heiress of the Duke of Roxburghe, who married Sir James Innes.
Garmouth's heyday was as a main port for the Laich of Moray in the 18th century, exporting grain from farmlands and manganese ore brought by pack ponies from the mountains, and importing coal and glass. It was a natural harbour with a dangerous entry between the bars of shingle skirting the main River Spey, and required the expert guidance of local pilots, but the great floods of 1829 altered the course of the Spey estuary and rendered the port unsuitable.
It was in Kingston-on-Spey that King Charles II actually landed in 1650, although the village does not derive its name from that event. It was previously known as the Port of Garmouth. Over 200 years ago Messrs. Dodsworth of Kingston-upon-Hull and Osbourne of York leased the extensive forest of Glenmore from the Duke of Gordon. They felled the timber and floated great rafts down the River Spey to export to English shipyards. However, being astute businessmen, they brought in a shipwright, Thomas Hustwick and his family, to establish their own shipyard at the river mouth. The settlement on the shore grew rapidly and the Yorkshire men named the village after their old home.
Spey Bay is just what its name implies – the bay in which the majestic River Spey pours into the Moray Firth. From about mid-March until September it is quite normal to watch ospreys fish here daily. Of the estimated 130 bottlenose dolphins that are resident in the Moray Firth, at least half pass through the Spey Bay area on a regular basis. There are otters in the river and both common and grey seals can be found in the river and in the bay. There is a cornucopia of birds in all seasons with rare species migrating from Scandinavia in the winter.
A priory was founded in Urquhart in 1125 by David I. In 1454, the Benedictines relocated to Pluscarden Abbey and the Urquhart Priory was abandoned.
The village of Mosstodloch has in recent years been considerably developed at both eastern and western ends with mixed housing in the centre. To the east of Mosstodloch, Baxters of Speyside has established their factory complex. This has grown substantially in recent years and is the largest employer of labour in the area. Not far from the village is Cumberland's Crossing, the ford where the Duke of Cumberland's army crossed the River Spey in 1746.
Lhanbryde (Lhanbryd as it was originally known) means the Church of St Bride or Bridget. The village has now been bypassed by the main A96 trunk road running between Aberdeen and Inverness. On either side of the road passing through, the village centre is bordered by restored cottages. Close by is the graveyard of the old Lhanbryde Church.
The trustees of James, 2nd Earl of Fife, remodelled the village in 1854. Over the past 20 years the village has been greatly enlarged with extensive areas of modern houses.