The Speyside Way is a superb long-distance Scottish Great Trail. It runs for 66 miles from Aviemore to Buckie, with relatively little ascent or descent whilst passing through some spectacular scenery. It is not one to miss, and with opportunities to link the route with the Dava Way and the Moray Coast Trail, why would you want to? Alan Castle's fantastic Cicerone guidebook, The Speyside Way, helps you walk all three.
The Speyside Way: A Great Trail
The Speyside Way is one of the Scottish Great Trails which are equivalent to the National Trails of England and Wales. Being so designated, it is waymarked throughout its length with a distinctive white Scottish thistle. Unlike many of the official long distance paths in Britain, the Speyside Way offers relatively easy walking, mainly on well surfaced and easily graded tracks and paths, with little total ascent and descent.
Beautiful landscape, nature, wildlife, history (both recent and ancient), and whiskey combine wonderfully to make the Speyside Way a splendid trail. Speyside is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful areas of Scotland, with a diverse landscape of mountain, heath and moorland, mixed deciduous woodland, conifer plantations, wide river valley and rich alluvial farmland. The neighbouring Moray coast exhibits a variety of landscapes, from wide sandy beaches and extensive sand dunes, mixed coastal forest, to sandstone cliffs and dramatic rocky headlands, rock arches and sea stacks.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the region has a rich and varied wildlife. It is the place to come to see some of Britain’s rarest but most endearing creatures, notably otters, pine martens, red squirrels and ospreys. Herds of red deer roam the mountains and glens, whilst the smaller roe deer make their home in the lowlands.
The three trails are each quite different in character and complement each other well - a valley and riverside walk, a ramble along a famous disused railway line and a coastal walk on one of the finest stretches of coast in the UK.
The Moray Coast Trail can be linked with the Speyside Way
The Moray Coast Trail is a walking route that stretches for nearly 50 miles from Forres and Findhorn Bay in the west of Moray and finishes at the coastal village of Cullen on the eastern edge of the Moray district. The route is a continuous trail of paths, tracks and minor lanes that link the numerous coastal villages, towns, beaches, cliffs and headlands of Moray. The coastal landscape of Moray is a very varied one, from huge bays and mudflats to coastal cliffs and sea stacks, from deciduous and pine woodlands to long white sandy beaches.
As can the Dava Way
The Dava Way follows the line of a disused railway 25 miles from Grantown-on-Spey to the town of Forres, a few miles south of the Moray coast. Although an easy trail to walk, its southern half does traverse some remote and wild moorland landscape. There a panoramic views of the surrounding hills, moorland and distant mountains. With the southern Cairngorms, to the distant mountains of the northern Highlands in Sutherland and Caithness.
The trails in Speyside and Moray have something for all types of rambler, from the seasoned long distance walker to the day stroller in the countryside, from the complete novice and those of limited walking ability to the experienced hill walker and fit backpacker. Moreover, cyclists and horse riders can also use many sections of these trails, which provide safe, traffic-free routes. And the Cicerone guidebook describes it all!
Alan Castle is the author of The Speyside Way walking guidebook which also describes the Dava Way, The Moray Coast Trail and the Badenoch Way.