The Speyside Way is a true Caledonian adventure from the rugged Highlands, through ancient pine forests, wild moors and whiskey country, to where dolphins swim on the Moray of Firth.
Starting from Aviemore, in the Cairngorms National Park, the trail follows the course of the River Spey for 81 miles (130 kilometers) to where it joins the North Sea near Buckie.
The route explores beautiful scenery throughout; from mountains to pastures, pine forests to pretty villages, heather moorlands to birch woodlands, and eventually to stunning coastline.
The Speyside Way also explores a region with the highest density of Scotch whiskey distilleries anywhere in the country. With a whiskey heritage that stretches back hundreds of years, the Scotch you sample at the many cozy inns, taverns, pubs, and distilleries along the way is first-class.
There is no set direction to walk the Speyside Way and both ways have their merits. This Collection opts for the southwest to northeast crossing as it follows the river from source to sea, meaning more downhill than uphill and an epic finish on the coastline with dolphins swimming on the horizon (hopefully, anyhow).
In this Collection, we divide the route into five stages. Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages, in isolation.
Every stage finishes close to accommodation, even if there are only a few options nearby. However, places to stay are not always abundant so it is worth planning in advance and scheduling any rest days accordingly.
If you are planning to arrive by public transport, you can catch a train to Aviemore, which has direct trains from Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Inverness, which all have good connecting services around the UK. From the station, it is a short walk up the main street to the start.
To get home, you would need to catch the 35 bus service from Buckie to East Street in Fochabers. There you would need to catch the 10 bus service to Aberdeen, where you can catch direct trains to Glasgow and Edinburgh, and connecting services around the UK.
If you are planning to arrive by car, your best bet is to negotiate with a hotel or B&B a rate to stay for a night either side of your hike in Aviemore.
To get back, you need would need to catch the 35 bus service from Buckie to East Street in Fochabers. There you would need to catch the 10 bus service to Inverness and then the G10 or the M90 bus services from Inverness to Aviemore.
For more information about the Speyside Way, visit: speysideway.org.
For the 35 bus service visit: stagecoachbus.com/routes/north-scotland/35/buckie-interchange-elgin-bus-station/xaao035.i.
For the 10 bus service visit: bustimes.org/services/10-inverness-aberdeen.
For the G10 bus service visit: bustimes.org/services/g10-glasgow-inverness.
For the M90 bus service visit: bustimes.org/services/m90-edinburgh-inverness.
For train timetables and tickets, visit: thetrainline.com.
The first stage introduces you to a rugged Highland landscape interspersed with native pine forests.
The trail begins in Aviemore, a town in the Cairngorms National Park surrounded by serene lochs, ancient forests, and mountains.
From Aviemore, you hike through coniferous and birch woodland and over heather moorland to Boat of Garten, roughly following the restored Strathspey Railway line.
The trail then follows the northern edge of Abernethy Forest, one of the last remaining bits of the ancient Caledonian Forest. Here you can observe a woodland bog landscape that is home to lots of wildlife.
After Nethy Bridge the trail runs along a former railway line for a significant portion, occasionally crossing farmland, all the way to Grantown, where this stage finishes.
Grantown has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
Beginning in a native pine forest and finishing next to a historic Scotch whiskey distillery, this stage is rich in heritage and beauty.
From Grantown you step into Anagach Woods, …
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This stage takes you through the heart of Scotch whiskey country, where even the fresh air is fortified with a ‘wee dram’.
You pick up the trail near Ballindalloch Castle, …
This stage takes you into ancient forests that occasionally give way to afford stunning views over the landscape.
You follow minor roads from Craigellachie and then climb over the shoulder of Ben Aigen through the Wood of Arndilly.
At a high point in the woodland, you reach a pleasant rest area with wonderful views over the Spey flowing through the patchwork landscape below.
The trail then descends through trees into and farmland and eventually reaches Boat o' Brig, the site of an ancient ferry across the River Spey.
A short but sharp ascent through trees follows and then you descend gradually through farmland and woodland, roughly following the course of the Spey to Fochabers, where this stage finishes.
Fochabers has some accommodation options and has plenty of choices for food and drink.
The final stage takes you to the shores of the North Sea, where you might be lucky enough to glimpse dolphins playing in the Moray of Firth.
From Fochabers, the …