- Hike the Speyside Way from the sea to the Cairngorms National Park – home to some of the highest mountains in Scotland
- Enjoy the satisfaction of hiking from point to point each day, covering over 65 miles along the trail
- Visit some of Scotland’s finest whisky distilleries, many of which are located along the route of the Speyside Way
- 7 nights’ accommodation on a Bed and Breakfast basis in Guest Houses, Bed and Breakfasts, Small Hotels and Inns along the route, based on two people sharing a twin or double room.
- Luggage transfer for the duration of the trip, meaning you will only have to carry a day rucksack
- Taxi transfer from Elgin to Buckie on Day 1
- Route notes which include a map and full directions to your accommodation
- The services of the Wilderness Scotland Team prior to & during your trip
Blue Graded Self Guided Holidays 4-6
Self guided Blue graded walking holidays are suitable for fit and experienced hikers. Walking at a good pace you can expect to be out for 6-8 hours a day. You will be following a trail but should understand how to follow a hiking map with at least basic navigation skills. Daily distances will vary – typically up to 20km but may be longer occasionally, or often on the more challenging trips in the grade. Daily hike details are available in the itinerary.
Trail conditions will vary from well laid and maintained sections of gravel track to rough and rocky sections including muddy and wet areas. Short sections may be on tarmac.
ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS
At each stage of your trek we will arrange accommodation for you to stay that night. The accommodations range from small guesthouses, Highland inns, small hotels and bed and breakfast establishments which will be of a 3 or 4 star standard. Our accommodation partners are carefully chosen according to a number of factors – charming locations, very good facilities and a reputation for providing Highland hospitality. We do not use accommodations we have not personally visited.
If you choose the upgraded accommodation option we will reserve the best available accommodation option in each location for you. However, in some areas, accommodation is very limited so the choice is restricted. Where this is the case we will book the best quality room available for you. If you wish to choose upgraded accommodation please call us to book – this is not available online.
Accommodation will be reserved on a Bed & Breakfast basis – lunches and evening meals are not included. Local shops sell sandwiches and snacks for the day ahead. Many guest houses will also be able to provide a packed lunch for you if you ask them the night before. In the evenings, meals can be taken in local restaurants, hotels or bars.
The Speyside Way covers just over 100 kilometres (65 miles) from the fishing village of Buckie on the Moray coast to the village of Aviemore, in the foothills of the great Cairngorm Mountains.
The Speyside Way trail follows the banks of the River Spey, often along disused railway lines as it makes its way from the sea to the Cairngorms National Park.
Following the banks of the River Spey, this is the easiest of our long distance hiking routes. However, it still presents a good challenge and offers enjoyable walking and hiking through a changing landscape. Hiking through villages, woods and rural riverlands, the path is fairly quiet so you won’t be sharing it with many other hikers and will often find that you have it to yourself.
Trip Itinerary – The Speyside Way
Day 1 – Arrive in Inverness
On the first day of your trip you travel to Inverness and spend the night here, which is included in your trip price. Tomorrow you head to Buckie to start the hike.
Day 2 – Transfer to Buckie then hike to Fochabers
From Inverness you take the train (journey of less than an hour) to Elgin. Here a pre-arranged taxi will meet you and transfer you to Buckie for the start of the walk. Your luggage is transferred ahead to your accommodation. Please note the train is not included in the cost of your trip and will need to be arranged in advance.
Setting out on the walk now, you follow the coastline westwards enjoying sea views from Buckie to reach the River Spey at Spey Bay. Then turning south you begin your trek along the river banks, with your first night’s stop in Fochabers. Today is an easy day with little ascent – perfect for a warm up for what lies ahead!
Distance: 17.5km/11 miles Ascent: 65m
Day 3 – Fochabers to Craigellachie
Today is more challenging with undulating countryside meaning more ascent and descent. You start by following quiet country roads through forested lands overlooking the river. After passing a bridge at Boat o’ Brig you then get off the road and enter attractive woodland as you walk across the lower flanks of Ben Aigan. This is the more challenging section with more ascent, but then it’s all downhill to your accommodation at Craigellachie.
Distance: 21km/13 miles Ascent: 490m
Day 4 – Craigellachie to Ballindalloch
Today’s section of the trail is a lovely hike on easy terrain, following the banks of the river with sections along the old former railway line, which is now a flat and grassy track – meaning there is very little ascent today! You’re also in prime whisky country now, so you may even like to consider stopping off to visit a distillery today. Aberlour is a good choice! At the very least, you can look forward to a local dram with dinner tonight, wherever you eat.
Distance: 19km Ascent/11.5 miles: 48m
Day 5 – Ballindalloch to Grantown-on-Spey
Today will be the most strenuous day of the trip with a longer distance and undulating terrain. The path today is a mixture of paths and some more disused railway, but it can be boggy for short sections. Today you will enter the Cairngorms National Park, with the mountains growing clearer and closer in the distance. Enjoy good views of the heathery hills and old woodlands as you hike today, including the beautiful community owned Anagach Pinewoods as you arrive for tonight’s halt at Grantown-on-Spey.
Distance: 24km/15 miles Ascent: 500m
Day 6 – Grantown-on-Spey to Boat of Garten
You’re now into the national park and today should be a very enjoyable hike, surrounded by gorgeous scenery. You start off following more old railway to the charming village of Nethybridge. After Nethybridge you enter the northern part of Abernethy Forest – a huge nature reserve owned by the RSPB. It’s a great section to look out for wildlife including red squirrels, and with good forest trails until a short section of road takes you over the river Spey once more and the lovely village of Boat of Garten.
Distance: 17.5km/11 miles Ascent: 90m
Day 7 – Boat of Garten to Aviemore
The final section of the route to Aviemore is a short and easy hike to finish your Speyside Way adventure – easily done in a morning or afternoon. If you would like to extend the walk to make a full day of it you could first hike back into Abernethy Forest to see Loch Garten and Loch Mallachie – a great place to spot Osprey – before heading back to Boat of Garten. Or, get to Aviemore a bit earlier and maybe take a ride on the steam railway!
Setting out for Aviemore you’ll hike along a good track with glorious views of the mountains. The path goes through lovely birchwoods and open moorland, and you can keep an eye out for the Strathspey Railway steam locomotive going by. Arriving in Aviemore at your final guesthouse you can look forward to a celebration dinner tonight – you’ve done it!
Distance: 10km/6 miles excluding the lochs detour Ascent: 50m
Day 8 – Depart Aviemore
After breakfast this morning you can start your journey homeward. If going south to Edinburgh or Glasgow you can head directly from Aviemore on the train or bus. Alternatively if heading for London or elsewhere you can head north to Inverness to catch a connecting flight from Inverness Airport.
PLEASE NOTE: Total daily distances are given for each stage but will vary slightly as you also need to walk to your accommodation each day which will usually add a short distance.
Extra Nights and Accommodation Upgrades
You also have the option to choose the following upgrades and extra nights.
- Upgraded accommodation package – we will reserve the best rooms available along the route including first night at 5 star Rocpool Reserve – £1,275 per person
- Add an extra night to your trip – ideal for a rest day of to spend more time for detours such as distillery visits. The additional charge is £65 per person, £90 per person if upgraded accommodation.
Every client receives a feedback survey when they return from their guided, self guided or tailor made holiday with us.
Once completed the review is published on our website just as soon as our database updates. The little touches and details are important to us and where issues are raised we make positive changes to our trips to improve your experience.
That's why we read each of our client's reviews and although we don't respond to all of them, if it's glowing feedback then we get the satisfaction of helping to make your holidays truly memorable.
by Rita Hamilton 21/09/2017
Julie and David were very responsive a charming. I loved them both.
So many amazing sights and people. Don't tell anybody but the 65mile Speyside Way trek was actually 85 miles when you include the trips to and from the trail heads. Ian and Dian were the Prince and Princess of the B&B's. Also Jonathan was extraordinarily fabulous. We loved the fresh human sized heart laying in the middle of the path. Some humorous Scot got our attention with that little amazement. The spectacular scenery revived us after huffing and puffing up the super steep hills. The goat paths on the Speyside Way were something we will never forget! We were enchanted by the Harry Potter and Hobbit scenes we passed through several times. We never knew what would be next to delight our senses. Thank goodness our 1980's children were rallying their 1940's parents. We couldn't have done it without these cheerleaders!
Accommodation and Food
We were greeted royally by the folks at Strathness House and loved being beside the fast moving River Ness and the Young Ness Bridge. We were so grateful for Prince Ian giving us a lift to the picturesque Trochelhill Victorian Country House at Fochabers. Exquisite accommodations and breakfast. Princess Dian made us new when she freshened our soiled clothes overnight and put them by our morning door. Jack and I were without our luggage from Saturday till Wednesday so you know our clothes needed freshening up. Delta Airlines cooperation has heard from us. Dian packaged our left over pizza from the evening before. It was a perfect lunch that day while resting on benches atop a ridge overlooking the River Spey Valley. We could see the Moray Firth and the ships and boats on the water from our perch. We got a call from our Florida Daughter and family who had evacuated from the Tampa area to our home in Augusta Ga due to Hurricane IRMA. Craigellachie Lodge had a deep bathtub for a welcome steaming soak. We were happy to see our luggage there. As usual, the breakfast was spectacular. We had a lovely trek to Ballindalloch through an adorable little Aberlour Station where we were welcome with a short film about the area and a rest stop. We were exhausted as we approached the Delnashaugh Hotel so far from the Way. Thank goodness there were lovely hosts and guests to sooth our wounds and a nice grog to wet our tongues. Dinner and soaking bath were very welcome. The next day was our biggest challenge. After the 'goat paths' we were disappointed to have only a shower to sooth us. I sat in the shower and used the sprayer on my feet. Grantown on Spey has a nice co-op where we found a few items we needed. The trek to At Boat of Garten was next to the last day of trekking. We relished the views and the time spent outdoors all day close to the earth. As we neared the Boat Hotel I looked forward to a relaxing soak. The chef was double tasking and showed us to our room. I was having a nice soak before dinner when Jack informed me we were in the wrong suite and were required to move which I found impossible to do after 5 days of trekking. Thank goodness just as I was able to extract myself from the comfort of the water, Jack found the snafu had been resolved. The last day was a short day much to my body's relief. As we more casually strolled the miles we found a lovely butcher shop in an adorable village. I got a bag of the best Licorice I have ever tasted.
We were a self-guided tour. Our guides were your incredible map, the way markers and the rainproof Rucksack Reader. Our 30 year old children led us the entire way. Jack and I were celebrating our 52nd wedding anniversary in our early/mid 70s.
The Bottom Line
As I was saying earlier, the licorice was delicious. I want more! The 4 of us finished it. It is called RJ's Natural Licorice. Sooo, we arrived in Aviemore where Jonathan greeted us and told us how our luggage had arrived at Ravenscraig a day early and he took it upon himself to drive it to us in Boat fo Garten unbeknownst to us. What a Prince! He was charming. Jill was lovely as well. We were able to use the laundry and freshness our clothes. We had dinner at the Bridge Inn and played a game of Euchre at the table there. The accommodations were outstanding and gracious. The breakfast was scrumptious. We took the early train to Glasgow. Marriott.
by Terry Hill 07/09/2017
We feel that there could be more direction markers and that they should be more obvious.
The Bottom Line
All the accomodation was very good and the people very pleasant.
We are both regular walkers but we found the walk challenging in terms of distance.
Apart from not receiving our walking guide before we left our country the staff were excellent in assuring that our guide was delivered to our first accomodation in Scotland.
by Corey Shdaimah 13/07/2017
We called to get information and ask questions several times and the people we spoke with were very helpful in recommending a route that best suited our needs. Being able to talk with someone in addittion to viewing the information posted on the website is a big plus.
We enjoyed the hiking and the combination of small hotels/b&bs that we stayed in. The Speyside route was an excellent choice. It was well marked and we enjoyed several of the side trips like a visit to a cooperage and distillery tour
Accommodation and Food
The lodging was very good- we especially loved Geraldine's Speybank at Craigallichie. We do not recommend taking the pot lunches from the hotels unless there are no other options as they are expensive and can get heavy. We found purchasing items at local coop or supermarket or deli is much better and tastier!
We chose a self-guided tour. The route notes overall were excellent and the paths well marked . One day, however, seemed to be a gross under-estimate of the mileage (Ballindaloch to Grantown-on-Spey). In addition the lodgings at Delnashaugh were far from the path (approx 1 1/2 miles) on a road that was not a pleasant walk in either direction. Overall the route was a great combination of woods, forests, farm, and disused railroad beds making for diverse and interesting hiking experience
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is we had an excellent self-guided tour. Wilderness Scottland were helpful in setting up and ensuring that we were able to have a great experience. We would wholeheartedly recommend this to others!
We have a few recommendations
It would be nice to have some kind of a welcome note or information upon arrival at the first stay
It would have been helpful to have been provided with the opportunity to start our overnight in Buckie rather than Inverness in order to be able to take advantage of the sights in Buckie (fishemans museum) and to avoid travel on the first luggage moving service was great but some of our hosts told us that we needed to bring luggage down by 9 which out some unnecessary urgency in the morning
we recommend that in advising future travelers, you should ask/offer more proactively that they consider spending an extra night in some places or further breaking up the route especially where there are more side opportunities
by Michael Thomas 08/05/2017
Everything worked as the detailed trip notes
Accommodation and Food
All good the pick was Speybank B & B at Craigellachie
Route notes were very good. However the distance nominated for Day 5 Ballindoch to Grant Town on Spey needs to be reviewed as it could be shorter than actual
The Bottom Line
Well organised and all pre- trip organisation well done. Good choice of Hotels and B & b's all friendly and helpful.