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Walk the Speyside Way, Dava Way and Moray Coast Trail with a Cicerone guidebook - Sample Route

Cover of The Speyside Way
15 Dec 2016
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
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The Speyside Way

A Scottish Great Trail, includes the Dava Way and Moray Coast trails

by Alan Castle
Book published by Cicerone Press

Guidebook to Scotland's Speyside Way, a 66 mile walk which follows the River Spey from Aviemore to Buckie. Divided into 10 stages, which range from 2 to 11 miles, the Speyside Way can be linked to the Dava Way and Moray Coast Trail, which are also described. Includes information on accommodation and a separate booklet of 1:25,000 maps.

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Size: 17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
Weight: 330g

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This guidebook describes the Speyside Way, one of Scotland's Great Trails that follows the River Spey for 66 mile (106km) through northern Scotland from Aviemore to the old port of Buckie on the Moray coast. Featuring easy walking on good paths and along disused railway lines, the route can be comfortably completed in a week and is presented in 10 stages of between 2 and 13 miles (3-21km).

The guide also details the recently opened 6½-mile (10.5km) extension to the Speyside Way between Kincraig and Aviemore as well as two alternatives to the main route and routes to the source of the Spey. Also featured are three other trails in the same region which can be combined with the Speyside Way to form a longer trek: the 25 mile (40km) Dava Way, 47 mile (76km) Moray Coast Trail and 12½ mile (20km) Badenoch Way. 

Alongside detailed route description, the guide includes background information, local points of interest (including a list of distilleries!), tips on transport and accommodation and recommendations for mountain-bikers and riders, who can follow stretches of the route. A handy booklet containing all the OS 1:25,000 Explorer mapping needed to complete the Speyside Way is located in the back cover sleeve.

The Spey is Scotland's third longest river, famed for its salmon and its distilleries. Rising in the Monadhliath Mountains, it flows through remote glens to the Highland resort of Aviemore, surrounded by the wild Cairngorms. From there, the Speyside Way follows the river's course through the countryside, forests and small towns of Strathspey and Moray to reach its mouth on the Moray Firth and the unique shingle systems at Spey Bay.   

  • Activities
    Walking, hiking, trekking. Also mountain-biking, horse-riding
  • Seasons
    The Speyside Way is suitable in all seasons, apart from Prologue which is unsafe in winter except for experienced backpackers; late spring and early autumn particularly good; limited facilities in winter for most locations visited
  • Centres
    Newtonmore, Kingussie, Aviemore, Grantown-on-Spey, Aberlour, Craigellachie, Fochabers, Tomintoul, Dufftown, Forres, Findhorn, Burghead, Lossiemouth, Findochty, Cullen. Also Spean Bridge, Roy Bridge, Fort Augustus
  • Difficulty
    generally easy and well waymarked trails suitable for walkers of most abilities; Prologue routes are recommended for experienced and well equipped walkers only as they are not waymarked and include trackless routes over remote country
  • Must See
    The Speyside Way, Dava Way, Moray Coast Trail and Moray Way plus wilderness trails to source of Spey; numerous whisky distilleries, disused railway tracks and heritage railways, broad strath of Speyside, scenic coastal fishing settlements and abundant wildlife

November 2017

The water tap at Blacksboat (page 123, Second Edition, 2016) is now labelled as contaminated and not fit for drinking.


The official trails of Speyside and Moray
The routes in this guidebook
The River Spey
When to walk
Which direction to walk
Suggested longer routes
Suggested day walks
Mountain biking and horse riding
Getting there
Public transport
Campsites and wild camping
Tourist information
What to take
Navigation and waymarking
Walking in Scotland
Using this guide
Stage 1 Aviemore to Boat of Garten
Stage 2 Boat of Garten to Nethy Bridge
Stage 3 Nethy Bridge to Grantown-on-Spey
Stage 4 Grantown-on-Spey to Cromdale
Stage 5 Cromdale to Ballindalloch station
Stage 6 Ballindalloch station to Aberlour
Stage 7 Aberlour to Craigellachie
Stage 8 Craigellachie to Fochabers
Stage 9 Fochabers to Spey Bay
Stage 10 Spey Bay to Buckie
APPENDIX A Route summary table
APPENDIX B Useful contacts
APPENDIX C Further reading
APPENDIX D Whisky production and Speyside distilleries

Sample Route

Aviemore to Boat of Garten
Distance6 miles/9.7km
MapsOS Landranger 36 (Grantown, Aviemore & Cairngorm area)


The arrival of the railway at Aviemore in the late 1800s acted as a spur to growth, as was the case in many of the old settlements along the Spey. By 1892 it was an important junction for travel to Perth and Inverness. Aviemore's development as a Victorian mountain resort was underpinned by the construction of hotels such as the Cairngorm, which still serves tourists today. The Aviemore Centre was built in 1964 at a time when the Cairn Gorm ski area was being developed. More recent building in Aviemore has helped to soften the architectural scars of this 1960s development.

Facilities: SYHA hostel, bunkhouse, several hotels, B&Bs. Cafés. Tesco supermarket, many shops, especially those offering outdoor clothing and equipment. Pharmacy, post office, two banks. Mainline train station and Strathspey Railway. Long-distance and local bus services. Theatre. Swimming pool. Cairngorm Brewery is open for tours weekdays throughout the year; shop.

From Aviemore railway station, the official start of the Speyside Way, walk north along the high street until on the outskirts of the town you encounter your first ‘thistle’ waymarker at Dalfaber Drive. Turn right here by the Dalfaber Golf and Country Club sign and then immediately left to cross the road to take a tarmacked path. Follow this as waymarked, past houses and parallel to the main road. This trail leads to a narrow dirt path, which is again parallel to the main road. After a while the path veers to the right to pull away from the road and later passes under the mainline railway line. Pass over three small footbridges to walk through a narrow tunnel under the Strathspey Railway line. The path then climbs a bank to reach National Cycle Route (NCR) 7. The Speyside Way and this cycle trail follow the same route all the way to the Boat of Garten.

Keep ahead on the track through sparse deciduous woodland, planted mainly with silver birch and Scots pine. The trail soon passes close to a golf course on your right, and eventually swings to the left as it widens to cross a section of heather moorland. Once across this moor the route meets and runs parallel with the Strathspey Railway. From hereon this line is always in sight until its station is reached at the Boat of Garten, and if you are lucky you will see some of its fine steam trains go past. Eventually meet and pass through a gate to bear left on a track which passes under a stone arch beneath the railway line. Continue ahead, now with the railway line on your right, following a sign for the Kinchurdy Road. The track eventually becomes metalled as it passes through the outskirts of Boat of Garten, passing a number of old and modern houses. Continue to a T-junction at Boat of Garten. The post office and village store is directly ahead and The Boat hotel, bar and restaurant is to the right.

Passing a traditional highland cottage on the approach to Boat of Garten


This scenic village was known as Gart until 1863, when it was renamed Boat of Garten, the same name as the ferry and newly built railway station. The word ‘boat’ therefore refers to the ferry that used to operate here across the River Spey in the days when there was no road bridge across the river (Boat of Cromdale, east of Grantown, and Boat o' Brig, south of Fochabers in the latter stages of the walk, are comparable examples). The village is now famous for its steam railway and the RSPB reserve at nearby Loch Garten, where osprey breed.

Facilities: independent hostel, hotel, B&Bs, campsite. General stores and post office. Local buses and Strathspey Steam Railway station. Community garden next to railway station.

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