The Speyside Way
A Scottish Great Trail, includes the Dava Way and Moray Coast trails
By Alan Castle
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.
SeasonsThe 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
CentresNewtonmore, Kingussie, Aviemore, Grantown-on-Spey, Aberlour, Craigellachie, Fochabers, Tomintoul, Dufftown, Forres, Findhorn, Burghead, Lossiemouth, Findochty, Cullen. Also Spean Bridge, Roy Bridge, Fort Augustus
Difficultygenerally 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 SeeThe 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
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.
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
Campsites and wild camping
What to take
Navigation and waymarking
Walking in Scotland
Using this guide
THE SPEYSIDE WAY – SOURCE TO SEA
BADENOCH WAY AND LINKS
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
MORAY COAST TRAIL
APPENDIX A Route summary table
APPENDIX B Useful contacts
APPENDIX C Further reading
APPENDIX D Whisky production and Speyside distilleries
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Pg 112: The Speyside Smokehouse is now only open to visitors on Friday and there is no longer a shop there.
Pg 113: Approximately 500m after crossing the A95 just south of the Spey Bridge, at Grantown East there is a Highland Heritage & Cultural Centre which has a coffee shop/restaurant in old train cars, excellent toilets, a gift shop, and picnic tables. It is accessible from the trail and is less than 100m off the route.
Pg 124: The distillery in Carron is now open (and massively renovated), but is closed to the public.
Pg 126: Aberlour distillery is open to the public with tours for a fee. The Linn Falls on a 3/4 mile side trail off of the Speyside Way is well worth the walk. This side trail goes directly by the Aberlour distillery, making it only ~1/2 a mile to the falls from the distillery.
Pg 128: The Fiddichside Inn is now closed. The public toilets and water tap in Fiddich Park are now closed. The nearest public toilets are in Craigellachie, where there are also many Bed and Breakfasts and the Highlander Inn which has an excellent pub.
Pg 129: Craigellachie to Fochabers is a 13 mile road walk on public roads with great views. There is a 3-4 mile section on gravel road, but the remainder is tarmac.
Pg 132: The Earth Pillars are largely overgrown now and difficult to see. It is a nice break from the road walk with soft trail out to the viewpoint.
Pg 140: The Speyside Way now ends/begins at the park at the central Cluny Square in Buckie. This section of the Speyside Way is very poorly waymarked with poor pavements on a busy street.
Pg 147: Glenlivet distillery tour is no longer free. I would also mention that there are NO SERVICES around the distillery. If you are planning to stay near the town you must resupply either in Grantown-on-Spey, Aberlour, or Tomintoul depending on which direction you are walking from. This will require you to carry enough supplies for ~2-3 days of walking out of Tomintoul, Aberlour or Grantown-on-Spey depending on your pace. The coffee shop at Glenlivet Distillery is very good, but pricey and hours may prove difficult if planning to resupply from it. It is open from 9.30-17.00, but the kitchen stops preparing food at 16.00.
Pg 151: The Delnashaugh hotel is now open with a pub/restaurant. The proprietors are very accommodating of walkers. There is no shop in Ballindalloch, contrary to what google says, it closed in Jan 2019. Ballindaloch distillery has also opened, ~1 mile from where the Spur meets the main trail, and offers tours for a fee.
Pg 162: Glenfiddich tour is no longer free and requires booking in advance. Balvenie Distillery, approximately 1/4 mile down the Speyside Way from Glenfiddich also offers limited tours for a fee which must be booked well in advance.
Pg 206: There is a new Cafe/coffee roaster/pub in Garmouth which is close to the intersection of the Speyside Way and the Moray Coast Trail.
"The Delnashaugh Hotel is open for food, drink and accommodation located at the junction of B9008 and the A95, at the foot of the Tomintoul Spur (page 152 of current edition of the guide book).”
The water tap at Blacksboat (page 123, Second Edition, 2016) is now labelled as contaminated and not fit for drinking.
if you can't make it from aviemore to buckie utilising the guide and the maps, you probably shouldn't consider leaving home in the first place
this particular volume from cicerone is the first i've come across that arrives inside a laminated pvc sleeve, containing not only the book itself, but a full colour ordnance survey 1:25,000 route map booklet. (the map booklet is also available separately at a cost of £7.95) if you can't make it from aviemore to buckie utilising the guide and the maps, you probably shouldn't consider leaving home in the first place. but, as with the majority of cicerone guides, the overall route is broken up into more appetising, bite-size chunks.
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Alan Castle has trekked and cycled in over 30 countries within Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa and Australasia. A member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild, he has written 18 guidebooks, several on long-distance mountain routes in France. An erstwhile national secretary and long-distance path information officer of the Long Distance Walkers Association, Alan now lives at the foot of the Moffat Hills in Scotland.View Guidebooks by Alan Castle