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Speyside Way: Fochabers to Craigellachie (...and back...)

Speyside Way: Fochabers to Craigellachie (...and back...)

Postby gld73 » Mon Sep 27, 2021 1:43 pm

Route description: Fochabers to Craigellachie

Date walked: 26/09/2021

Time taken: 8.7 hours

Distance: 40 km

Ascent: 600m

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A sunny Sunday, though maybe a bit too windy for big mountains, so a good time to head to Fochabers and do the Fochabers-Craigellachie section of the Speyside Way (leaves me with just 1 section to complete it).

Parked in the Speyside Way car park just off the A96 before getting into Fochabers Village. Majority of the walk is on very quiet tarmac roads (I'd say 5 or 6 cars passed me in total during the entire walk and that's doing it in both directions) and good forestry tracks, so I just did the walk in trainers. All well signed, though somehow I managed to miss a clearly signed turn to the right (as I saw on my return leg) and so continued on a forestry track contouring Ben Aigan instead of heading down to a minor road. I probably walked an extra couple of km before realising I'd gone wrong, but instead of retracing my steps, I headed down through overgrown forestry to reach a field, then managed to pick a field with a bull in it. Hopped over 2 barbed wire fences to avoid the bull and ended up in a field full of thigh high thistles, but negotiated them and got down to the road, though had to swing over a triple barbed wire fence using overhanging tree branches to finally get to it. All uneventful again after that. Got to the Allachie Park parking area where I'd finished previously coming from the south, then turned round and took the proper route back without bulls, fields or barbed wire fences. Nice easy walk if you stick to following the signs - bit of up and down but not so noticeable given the easy terrain and the distance.
Car park in the community park (popular dog walker spot), noticeboard displaying the Speyside Way section maps

After a couple of minutes walking with the cricket pitch on one side and the community park on the other, I came to this nice spot celebrating famous Fochabarians and with a good view of the Spey

After skirting the town and heading out on a single track road, I took the short detour to 'Earth Pillars' to get another view of the Spey

Was on this road for about 7 or 8km, very quiet with hardly any traffic and just the occasional cyclist

On getting to the lower slope of Ben Aigan, the red lights warning not to stray from the path were on as there was shooting at the rifle club (not on when I returned later), I had heard a few shots

From the Ben Aigan forestry tracks I got a view back down on the Spey and roughly the way I'd come, the Moray Firth to the north. It wasn't long after this point I just walked past the well signed turn in a complete daydream.

After eventually realising I was just contouring Ben Aigan and not descending, I headed down through the overgrown undergrowth of the forest (it would have been a tick-free walk asides from that) and emerged with a view of the Spey. I knew the single track road was between the base of the hill and the river so wasn't too far away, it was just avoiding bulls, thick gorse and barbed wire fences that was tricky. Ben Rinnes clearly visible.

Looking back up at the field of thistles I just came through (in shorts...)

A relief to see the minor road I was aiming for, even though that innocuous looking fence turned out to have 3 strands of barbed wire and I had to employ one of those trees to help me get over. At least then I was back on track, rejoining the Speyside Way proper just before Arndilly House

Signpost at Allachie Park marking the end of today's walk (...or the halfway point, as I still had to walk all the way back to the car. But at least I stuck to the proper route on the return, so no more barbed wire, ticks, bulls or thistles)
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