I packed most of the stages in Cairngorms National Park, and I found it generally scenic and good... read more
I packed most of the stages in Cairngorms National Park, and I found it generally scenic and good... read more
We did a 2 day walk starting in Craigellachie and ending in Ballandalloch. The lodging and baggage... read more
The Speyside Way is one of Scotland's official long distance routes. The "regular route" runs about 66 miles, from the railway station in Aviemore north to the trail's end monument near the center of Buckie, on Moray Firth. (Some walkers do it north to south.) There are two spur trails as well - the Tomintoul spur of about 16 miles, and the Dufftown spur of about 9. Many people do one or both of these spurs in addition to or instead of sections of the regular route, in order to add beauty and a little more challenge to the walk and to allow walkers to take the two free tours and tastings at Glenlivet and Glenfiddich distilleries. When we walked the route in June 2013, we did both both spurs, and omitted the Grantown to Ballindollach section from the regular route; this gave us a walk total of about 75 miles. There are also other routes and trails in the area that sometimes intersect with the Speyside Way, including Badenoch , Dava and Moray Coast trails. The Speyside Way has some diverse scenery, including frequent views of the River Spey (a famous fishery for salmon and sea trout), but it does not have a lot of elevation gain or loss, and is generally not very difficult as compared to some other British long walks such as, for example, the West Highland Way. Lodging and food are generally not very hard...The Speyside Way is one of Scotland's official long distance routes. The "regular route" runs about 66 miles, from the railway station in Aviemore north to the trail's end monument near the center of Buckie, on Moray Firth. (Some walkers do it north to south.) There are two spur trails as well - the Tomintoul spur of about 16 miles, and the Dufftown spur of about 9. Many people do one or both of these spurs in addition to or instead of sections of the regular route, in order to add beauty and a little more challenge to the walk and to allow walkers to take the two free tours and tastings at Glenlivet and Glenfiddich distilleries. When we walked the route in June 2013, we did both both spurs, and omitted the Grantown to Ballindollach section from the regular route; this gave us a walk total of about 75 miles. There are also other routes and trails in the area that sometimes intersect with the Speyside Way, including Badenoch , Dava and Moray Coast trails. The Speyside Way has some diverse scenery, including frequent views of the River Spey (a famous fishery for salmon and sea trout), but it does not have a lot of elevation gain or loss, and is generally not very difficult as compared to some other British long walks such as, for example, the West Highland Way. Lodging and food are generally not very hard to find, although there are some 10-mile stretches where it is infrequent. There is a helpful official Speyside Way site (Speysideway.com), which contains a listing of lodgings as well.
When we did the walk in June, 2013, we walked 75 miles in six days, as follows:
Day 1 - Aviemore to Boat of Garten to Nethy Bridge to Grantown on Spey - about 17 miles.
Day 2 - Our B & B owner, for a reasonable charge, drove us down to Tomintoul to do the spur. After 8 miles, we did the Glenlivet tour and tasting, and then spent the night in the area.
Day 3 - We finished the 8-mile Tomintoul spur to Ballindollach, and then walked 10 more miles to Ablerlour, for an 18 mile day. The Tomintoul spur is pretty and has some nice up and down walking.
Day 4 - Walked 4.5 miles to Dufftown (took Glenfiddich Distillerytour/tasting), and 4.5 miles to Craigellachie, for 9-mile day.
Day 5 - 13 miles to Fochabers, a pleasant and varied section.
Day 6 - final 11-mile section to Moray Firth, and then to Buckie town center monument; scenic and flat.
A prominent characteristic of the Speyside Way is the 50 or so single malt whisky distilleries in the area (out of 100 in Scotland) including Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Macallan, Tamdhu, Aberlour and others. This has caused some to call this the "Whisky Walk" or "Whisky Way". The single malt industry is booming in Scotland, and increasingly elsewhere. Learning about and dabbling in single malt is an interesting part of the experience. Slainte!
There are several guide books, and a few companies that will transport luggage or arrange lodging, if you wish. We used the 2010 first edition of Alan Castle's Cicerone Guide Book, with strip map included, and found it very satisfactory.
While walkers can decide for themselves what the highlights are, some of ours were: meeting and chatting with locals and other walkers; the exceptional single malt tours and tasting opportunites, including Whisky Castle in Tomintoul, Mash Tun in Aberlour, and Highlander Inn in Craigellachie; very nice lodging, including Garden Park B & B in Grantown, Bank House in Glenlivet, Mash Tun in Aberlour, Bridge View B & B in Craigellachie, and Highlander Hotel in Buckie; tasty meals, including Old Bridge Inn and Restaurant in Aviemore; Croft Inn in Glenlivet; Mash Tun in Aberlour; Quaich in Fochabers; and Highlander Hotel in Buckie; others included Walker's awesome Shortbread in Aberlour and Baxter's food outlet and visitor's center in Fochabers.
The level of friendliness and hospitality encountered was very high. A day or two in Edinburgh before or after the walk is time well spent - interesting town with some good museums, galleries, and food.More
We walked from Grantown to Ballindalloch, following the Speyside Way markers. The Speyside Way web site says it is 13 miles. This is incorrect. We were carrying two separate smartphones with apps for measuring distance, and both recorded just under 16 miles. We started at Grantown Golf Course; if we had started at the Spey Bridge it would have been about 17 miles.
Unfortunately when the railway company bought the land for its Speyside line in the 19th century, the contracts with the landowners included a clause providing that the land would revert to them ifhe railway ceased to operate, and some of the landowners south of Ballindalloch refused to allow the Speyside Way to use their sections of the line as was originally planned. The result is that this section goes up and down hills and through forest plantations, making it a much more demanding walk than the railway sectors.
There also seems to have been an alteration to the route, so that between Dalvey and Knockfrink it no longer follows the northern edge of Meiklepark Wood, but jinks about in a most irritating fashion above the wood.
Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, there is a right to cross most land in Scotland provided this is done safely, no damage is done and the privacy of residents is not infringed. So there is no legal reason why a responsible walker could not attempt to follow the railway, or to take the original route round Meiklepark Wood. The landowner is not entitled to block access. Anyone intending to do so should study the Scottish Access Code (available online) and be sure to follow it.
But for the erroneous information on the web site and maps, and the diversion round Meiklepark Wood, I would have rated this sector of the Speyside Way as very good.
I packed most of the stages in Cairngorms National Park, and I found it generally scenic and good hiking. However, I did not realize at the time that the park was so new, so most of the land is privately owned, and there are consequently not many good camping opportunities.
We did a 2 day walk starting in Craigellachie and ending in Ballandalloch. The lodging and baggage transfers were arranged through a tour company. We were able to easily find our way to Craigellachie from Inverness by way of Elgin (and the Glen Moray distillery) using the train and bus, but our tour company did not give us very much of a heads up on our onward travel options from Ballandalloch - which does not have any bus route options during the week. Something to keep in mind if your are planning your own route or not ending at one of the larger towns. Lucky for us the local B&B hosts treat you like family and helped us solve our transportation problems!
Our Day 1 route was a loop from Craigellachie down to Dufftown. We went down by way of Aberlour and an 'over the top' route which was a very nice hike through fields and forest areas. A sturdier hiking shoe recommended. Aberlour has a nice little distillery (reservations required) and a good coffee shop for a road drink. There are not many distilleries in Dufftown with tours, but the Glenfiddich tour is top notch and they have a great cafe. The remainder of the walk back to Craigellachie is along an old railway (no steep hills) that sported wild raspberry bushes along the trail for a mid-hike snack.
The Day 2 route was a long haul (aided by a 3+ mile diversion in Knockando for the wool mill and Cardhu distillery, both great stops and worth the extra hike) but on similarly flat terrain. It got pretty soggy in a few areas - so regular tennies would be soaked through.
We lucked out with weather for mid-August had had sun both days with minimal rain showers, but planned for all conditions and were able to continue on even during bouts of rain. Had a great time, would love to do it again in a few years.
An excellent walk with amazing scenery, clear running waters. We did skip one small section, written up as pretty rough, and no accommodation at the end of that section, but we did walk from Aviemore to Spey, and then continued on the Moray firth to Forres. A great walk with hills, forest, beach, farms, rivers, and distilleries.
Section 5 we walked this section Ballindalloch to Grantown and the website said it was 13 miles. In fact it is 17 miles. Very slippy with lots of hard terrain, boulders and narrow paths with fallen trees. It was dangerous in parts. Beautiful part but needs more maintenance and more accurate mileage.
Again we didn’t do the full route but the section from Aviemore to Boat of Garten is a must, nice easy walking with splendid views
Scottish law allows landowners to block public access over their land so for much of its route the Speyside Way does not follow the old track of the Speyside Railway or the River Spey itself. You can be proceeding nicely along the old railway track bed then suddenly you have to make a right angle turn up the hill into planted forestry where all you see is non native species of trees and little wildlife, all you hear are the chain saws. The second section south from Fochabers sets off along Ordiequish Road for 2 or 3 hours, it was a very nice stroll along a country road on a warm summer day but you neither see or hear the Spey, you briefly meet the river at Boat o’ Brig where the Inverness to Aberdeen main railway line crosses the river. You can get some nice shots of the river from the road bridge but then you are then directed up the hill onto forestry roads that wind as they do up and down the rutted terrain until you come out into the light at Craigellachie, from here it is a very pleasant walk into Aberlour along the old track bed which shadows the river. Out of Aberlour it is again very nice passing preserved old railway station buildings and distillery villages until you reach a point somewhere around Tormore where again you are directed to take to the hills miles away from the river or the railway, meandering right and left you descend into Cromdale having bypassed much of the beautiful route that this trek was meant to be. When I got to Grantown-on-Spey I had a nice meal then next day took a ride on that part of the Speyside Railway which is still running trains. It’s just not like you see it on Julia Bradbury’s Railway Walks.
Just in Aviemore for an overnight stay and decided on walking the part of the route from Boat of Garten to Aviemore, this is an excellent section and really enjoyed the varied scenery.
We walked the Speyside Way from Buckie to Aviemore using the services of Gemini Walks - there are several such companies but this small two-person operation based in Falkirk was less expensive than most and the service was outstanding. They booked all the B&Bs, arranged luggage transfers each day so that we only walked with day packs, and provided comprehensive documentation with a guide book and map. We walked north to south, which is what the ranger service recommends because the walking is easier in the north so you get broken in gently. (An alternative view is that if you walk the other way the weather tends to be on your back rather than in your face, but the weather was gentle with us.) Contrary to some comments there is in fact an official starting point in Buckie just north of the main square. The absence of a finish point in Aviemore is explained by the fact that the Way is being extended beyond there to Newtonmore, and in fact is already signposted as far as Kincraig. This is a thoroughly enjoyable walk, just right for a first attempt at a long distance route as it's shorter and easier than some of the others, and I can't praise Gemini highly enough for the efficiency of their arrangements and their good choice of accommodation.
I completed the Speyside way from Fochabers to Aviemore with my son just a few weeks ago. I realise that this is not the full walk as I did not start in Buckie, but I have walked this section previously. We initially decided to carry all of our kit and stay in a hotel for one night in Cromdale. I had not prepared for the walk as such and was slightly concerned how I would cope over five days carrying a 65 litre ruck sack with tent and roll mat strapped to the outside and walks of up to 15 miles each day. We walked to Aberlour on the first day, 15 miles and found it quite challenge (my son did not find it a challenge! He is 25, only me!) by the time I had walked 14 miles I had major blisters forming on one foot that grew worse throughout the week. I ended up buying the biggest blister plasters available in the Aberlour chemist. A pack of 5 for £5. These were absolute lifesavers and I could not have progressed through the week without them! We ended up staying in accommodation in Aberlour, Cromdale and Boat of Garten and camped in Ballindalloch Station, we did carry all kit for the entire walk as described above, by day two the rucksack was taking its toll, but I soon grew used to the extra weight. I had developed a seriously bad chest on day one which reduced my desire to sleep in a tent every night, hence the additional hotel stops. I had my wife try to book accommodation each day, she seriously struggled, but managed at last minute to get something booked! So good advice is to book in advance should you wish to stay in hotels. All days were very scenic, two days take you away from the river and up into the hills, the remaining 3 you spend walking the disused railway line. Beautiful scenery, very well preserved train stations, distilleries etc. to see and photograph. By day four I noticed that three toe nails on my right foot had been damaged through making contact with the inside of my boot, they all fell off within four weeks of completing the walk and without pain really. This prompts me to give you my second piece of advice, know your boots and ensure that you wear them in before you start the walk. I did not! All in all the walk was excellent and you have to give praise to those who maintain the tracks and walk signage etc. I purchased two guides and hardly ever referred to either, as the sign posts are so well arranged. I found it easy to loose the trail in the Grantown on Spey area, but soon found it again.
A great walk! Get stuck in and don't make the same basic mistakes that I did! I plan to complete the walk again next year, but in the opposite direction.
If camping in Ballindalloch Station there is a water supply fed via a tap but it is marked as not for drinking, so take purification tablets
Take midge nets or repellent if walking during the summer, they were out most nights from around 5pm and in particular when we camped in Fochabers and Ballindalloch Station.