Duration: 8 Days / 7 Nights From £815
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Trip created by Jane Gillies
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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.
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.
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.
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 from this point. 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Jane works as an Adventure Consultant in the sales team and is renowned for keeping things organised, ship-shape and running like clockwork! Durham born, Jane bagged herself a Scottish husband and has since moved to the Highlands and has spent many hours exploring.Ask Jane a Question
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.
Rated 4.82 out of 5 based on 17 review(s) of Self Guided – Speyside Way
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.
Reviewed on 11/07/2019
Age: 60 - 70
Country: United States
Trip Date: 30/06/2019
Trips Taken: 2
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
Several issues, all involving communication. 1) On Monday June 3 Julie@wildernesscotland.com sent an email informing us the taxi ride from Boat of Garden to Aviemore would be delayed until 17:00, and asking if that was OK. The message begins with "Matt and Lynn" but unfortunately my email address was NOT included in the email, so I never received it. The others in our group DID receive the message, but assumed I had answered because it was specifically addressed to my wife and I...they did not realize my address was not used/included. 2) On June 26th I sent an email to David@wildernessscotland.com asking for particulars about train tickets and general questions about transportation. I never did receive any reply to that email. 3) Supposedly our luggage was to be transferred from lodging to lodging for us--that is one of the primary reasons we used Wilderness Scotland. "Day 1" started with a B&B booked for us by Wilderness Scotland in Inverness. "Day 2" ended with a B&B in Fochabers. The website https://www.wildernessscotland.com/adventure-holidays/self-guided/speyside-way/ specifically says "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." We bought and booked train tickets ourselves, only to find that our luggage was NOT transferred from Day 1 B&B to Day 2 B&B as indicated by the website. I was charged another 95 pounds to have the luggage transferred. In our view, we should not be charged that additional fee, because the website specifically said the luggage would be transferred for us day-to-day. Either a full or partial refund would be welcomed. 4) While in Scotland, slow responses to other emails sent to Wilderness Scotland caused us (or the B&B owners) to call taxi cabs ourselves to confirm the "pre-arranged taxi service" supposedly covered by the cost of our tour. Just an aside, and for your awareness: visitors from the USA rarely have phone plans that include phone service in Europe (we do not.) So....roaming charges are very expensive, and we try to avoid using our phones as much as possible. Email or text messages are preferable. Hikers cannot be exactly sure when they will arrive at their destination--it would be better, I think, to provide them/us with instruction on how to contact the taxi service upon arrival. One final irritation (though I don't believe this is Wilderness Scotland's responsibility): portions of the Speyside Way trail are poorly marked, particularly as the path approaches the Spey River while walking out of Buckie and while leaving Grantown-on-Spey. Despite all these incidents, we did enjoy the Speyside Way hike. Each of the B&B facilities you booked were great, the maps provided were first-rate, and Scotland is a wonderful place to visit. TEAM WILDERNESS RESPONSE: Thank you for offering your feedback about the aspects of service you felt were lacking. The easiest thing I believe is to offer a point by point explanation: 1) For not including your email address we do apologise. We originally emailed someone else in the group, advising the available taxi time. When we did not hear back (because you had not received it personally) we checked in before the start of the trip to advise the time of transfer and book it accordingly. 2) When you emailed me (David) on June 26th I was, regrettably, absent from work due to sick leave and not able to respond at the time. My auto-response did explain this and ask you to contact email@example.com for a response to any urgent matters as my colleagues in the office would have been only too happy to help either by email or phone. 3) To eliminate ambiguity I have now updated the description of Day 2 so it now reads - " "Your luggage is transferred ahead to your accommodation from this point." i.e from the start of the trail itself, rather than Inverness. I am sorry this was misinterpreted from the website, however in your personalised trip pack with luggage instructions it was clearly stated in bold, red text that you need to take your luggage on the train to the start of the trail this day. Your tour pack should always be referred to for specific instructions. 4) We are sorry that you found email responses to be slow. We do respond to all messages as quickly as possible but for immediate concerns we always advise you call since we may be working through a long list of emails on any given day. Contact details for all taxi companies used during your trip are provided in your tour pack details. We do appreciate your final comments that despite these points you still enjoyed your trip along the Speyside Way.
See previous comments.
We enjoyed each of the facilities we stayed at.
As previously noted, a few spots on the Speyside Way trail are poorly marked, particularly for first-time visitors.
This is the second time we've used Wilderness Scotland, and the second hike through the Scottish countryside. We've found the maps and printed documents very helpful, but (as previously noted) we experienced communication issues during our second trip. If/when we take a similar hike, we likely will try a different agency.
Reviewed on 17/06/2019
Age: 50 - 60
Country: United States
Trip Date: 07/06/2019
Trips Taken: 1
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
Reviewed on 24/07/2018
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
The Speyside Way was a lovely walk! I especially enjoyed the sections that followed the disused railway with the platforms still intact. Most of the time we had the whole path to ourselves!
Accommodation was generally very good. My only feedback here would be that the B&B in Craigellachie (Bridge View) had a bathroom down the hall. Even though it was a private bathroom for our own use, we might have packed slightly differently knowing we'd need to walk through a public space to reach it. Not a big deal, just something that would have been good to know ahead of time.
Route notes were generally quite good. One thing you might consider adding is a little map to each sheet that shows the accommodation relative to the footpath. Google Maps would make adding that pretty simple, and for me it's easier to visualize from a map than a written description.
I would not hesitate to recommend Wilderness Scotland to anyone planning a trip to Scotland. In fact, I already have!