These two beautiful coastal villages, which are just a seven minute car ride apart from each other, are situated on the picturesque shores of the Moray Firth. If you love the sea and sandy beaches, either of these locations will make a fantastic place to call home.
Burghead is a popular holiday resort located on a peninsula. Wherever you are in Burghead you'll never be too far from the sea, as it's surrounded by the sea on three sides. The remains of early fortifications can still be found in the headland of the village; one particular spot - where there are two earth ramparts - is where 'The Burning of the Clavie' takes place annually on January 11. This event is held to mark the old calendar's New Year and involves a burning tar barrel being carried around the village.
At the harbour you'll find a huge sandy beach, which stretches five miles around the bay all the way to Findhorn. It is here you can enjoy incredible views over the town and along the coastline. During the winter, you may be able to spot scoter and eider seabirds, whereas the summer brings fishing ospreys. On a really good day, you'll be able to see minke whales searching for tiny shrimp to eat and grey seals tailing the sailing boats into the harbour. Keen photographers will want to be on the lookout for the bottlenose dolphins that reside in the Moray, as they're often seen showing off to residents and tourists.
If you want to learn a little bit more about the history of your new hometown, all the way from 400AD right up until present day, visit the Burghead Visitor Centre. It's also another great way to experience some amazing views, as the newly-added extension allows you to look out onto the Moray in comfort.
The area is home to some mysteries though, and the Burghead Well is one of them. It is not known who built it, why it was created or when it originates, but experts believe it could date back as far as the Dark Ages. You can climb down the steps and into the chamber itself for your very own look if you wish.
Burghead Primary School is the village's local school. The external part of the building may be over 100 years old, but the facilities have been updated a number of times over the years. Two nearby parks are used by the school for athletic sports and team games, and it also makes use of a small area behind Burghead Parish Church, which it has turned into a wildlife garden. When the kids get older, Elgin Academy is only a 13 minute drive away.
The thriving fishing village of Hopeman is home to not one but two beaches. Like Burghead, there is plenty of history and wildlife here, so there's always something new to see. The heart of the village can be found on Harbour Street, which is lined with a few shops and a post office and gently slopes downhill into the busy harbour.
Either side of the harbour are the two beaches, named East and West Beach respectively. West Beach is the sandier of the two, whereas the other is rockier. If you'd rather go for nice walks than build a sand castle, head to the East Beach. Beautifully-painted beach huts line the stretch of sand and rock, as well as a small pavilion. Here, and along the coastal path, you can find fossilised dinosaur footprints.
There is a smaller, hidden beach nearby too. Clashach Cove at the edge of East Beach was once a place of worship for druids back in the fifth century. If you're hoping to do a spot of birdwatching on your beach walk, look out for black headed gulls, curlews and oyster catchers. The harbour wall, on the other hand, is the perfect place to see Moray's famous dolphins.
The local school is Hopeman Primary School, which consists of nine classes and a nursery. Inside it is brightly adorned with pupil's work, and outside it has some great facilities, including a playing field.