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Spey Bay to Lossiemouth (and back) - Moray Coastal Trail

Spey Bay to Lossiemouth (and back) - Moray Coastal Trail

Postby gld73 » Mon Apr 19, 2021 12:59 am

Route description: Lossiemouth to Buckie

Date walked: 17/04/2021

Time taken: 6.3 hours

Distance: 30 km

Ascent: 80m

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[Photos below]
Although there is a diversion route from Lossiemouth heading east to take account of the closed bridge to East Beach, I decided to stick with the original route of the Moray Coast Trail between Lossiemouth and Spey Bay. As I was doing each leg as a there & back day walk, I headed to Spey Bay to walk from there to Lossiemouth heading west (to the end of the closed bridge) and back again.

A dry, cold day, plenty parking at the headland car park in Spey Bay next to the Scottish Dolphin Centre and the nature reserve. The trail is clearly signposted to head south on a path alongside fields, the river and woods, before turning right on to the path / cycle path which crosses the Spey (very wide at this point with different channels) on the impressive old railway bridge. I was disappointed not to get my camera out in time to capture a seal in the water below, I swear (s)he was watching me until I got the camera in my hand and then dived under the water to avoid the picture.

After crossing the bridge, there's a short distance before heading up steps to the left for the Moray Coast Trail though the cycle path continues straight on - it's the sort of turn I often miss when I'm not paying attention, but not today. Well, not at that point anyway. I followed the arrow into Garmouth, a nice little village, and knew I was meant to have a turn off to the left for School Brae; I think I even glanced at that turn as I passed it, thinking that was maybe it, but as I hadn't seen one one of the Trail marker posts, I continued on. As I headed out of the village, I realised I should have taken that turn ... but from the map I could see I would just rejoin the path at Kingston village a short distance on, so I stuck with that for the outgoing route (I took the correct route on the way back, and saw why I'd missed the sign).

At Kingston I got views over to Spey Bay and Bin of Cullen, then turned to head along parallel to the sea to the larger parking area at the Lein, where I rejoined the Coastal Trail. The rest of the walk from there to Lossiemouth was close to the sea and staying parallel with it though, oddly, not really within sight of it. Although it's very close and the waves very audible, the path is on the inland side of a shingle bank and follows the line of the WW2 coastal defences. I did pop up on to the shingle bank occasionally for sea views, but mostly I stayed on the path.

The line of concrete blocks and pill boxes runs for quite a distance along this length of shore and it's all in very good condition. The infrastructure isn't being consumed by the sea here as it was to the west of Lossiemouth so is remarkably well preserved. The pill boxes even seem relatively free of graffiti and rubbish, though the same can't be said of the gun emplacements raised above the beach on the edge of the forest - the heras fencing hasn't done much to keep the vandals at bay. The structure are still standing, you just have to try and ignore all the graffiti when looking at them.

Eventually the line of concrete defences ends and the path continues on the edge of the dunes, still next to the shingle bank, before emerging on to the sands of East Beach, Lossie. From here, I walked along the sand towards the town, seen in the distance. With the easy access of the wooden foot bridge from the town being unavailable, the beach was remarkably deserted, until I got to the end where there were a few surfers in the water. I assume they had just paddled over to the beach in lieu of a bridge?

I did the short hop over the line of dunes to the end of the bridge, looking along it to the other end I'd stood at when doing the Burghead-Lossiemouth section just before lockdown in December, before heading all the way back the same way to Kingston.

This time I followed the trail markers from Kingston to go to Garmouth via the School Brae path. It's a nice viewpoint being the highest point on this leg of the walk, and there was even the surprise of a trig point (albeit not a hill to tick off) and the remains of Browland stone circle. Rejoining the main street I'd walked down on the outward walk, I saw the reason I'd missed the turn off signs is that they were up high and had not been facing me. Still, if I'd been looking for confirmation I was to turn off there I could have seen it if I'd been specifically looking for it.

I got back to the car and dusk. Hopefully when I'm back to do the walk west of here to Buckie I'll have more time to have a look round the nature reserve and maybe the Whale and Dolphin Centre if it's open, but today was a good walk anyway. I'd have liked to do the Moray Coastal Trail as a continuous walk over 2 or 3 days in summer, camping, but doing it as a serious of day walks, half in December before lockdown, half after, is proving a good option too.
Scottish Dolphin centre in Spey Bay, my start point today

Scottish Wildlife Trust nature reserve adjoining the car park

Start of the old railway bridge over the Spey (the Spey Viaduct or Garmouth Viaduct, 947.5ft long and built in 1886)

The Spey splits into wide channels, hence the bridge needing to be so long

The bowed central truss alone is over 100m long

View from Kingston village looking east to the buildings at Spey Bay. The hill in the background is Bin of Cullen

As you leave the Lein on the edge of Kingston, the path starts running parallel to the long barrier of concrete blocks followed for much of this walk

Path goes straight on at the first flagpole and sentry building (looking back west here)

I continued on the main route, but there is the option to go through the forest or up Bin Hill

At the next sentry building the path turns to head towards the sea for a short distance before continuing west, right beside the concrete coastal defences

View from up the sentry tower

The wall of well preserved blocks is protected from the sea by the adjacent shingle bank to the north

Several pill boxes are along the route too

The ones I went in were all graffiti-free and didn't smell of wee :)

View east from inside a pill box

I went up on the pebble bank a couple of times to get the sea views as otherwise you don't even see the sea on this section despite it being so close

Popped up the south side of the path too, to see the gun ramparts and other buildings on the edge of the forest

The 2 larger ramparts have fencing round them, but unfortunately it hasn't stopped people getting in to them and them being daubed in graffiti

Eventually the WW2 remains run out and the path continues at the edge of the dunes, still with the sea hidden by the shingle bank

It then emerges on to Lossie East Beach, with the town ahead and a nice walk over the sand

Looking back west, the way I'd come. My footprints were the only ones on the beach here, felt odd (but nice!) given it was in the middle of a sunny day with a town within sight. I'm sure things would be very different if the bridge was still open!

Ever come across something on a walk and think "ooh, treasure!"..?! This big rubber buoy was over a metre long and seemed almost too good a thing to leave abandoned on the beach. But it was over a metre long and carrying it or kicking it all the 15km back to Spey Bay didn't appeal, especially as I'd eventually have to admit I'd have absolutely no use for it...

The closed wooden footbridge between Lossiemouth and East Beach

..Yes, definitely out of use

Surfers at the far west end of East Beach, near the town

...but other than that, I had the beach to myself

Several miles later and getting towards dusk, I was back at Kingston and followed the correct route of the Moray Coast Trail up this path to School Brae (Bin of Cullen in shot again)

Surprise trig point

Stone circle remains

Back in Garmouth and looking back at the turn off I'd missed (to the left) on the outward route

Turns out the sign was there, just facing the wrong way for people to clearly see it if coming east to west

Sun setting as I looked back over the Spey Viaduct
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