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The Dava Way - Ghost Train Walk

The Dava Way - Ghost Train Walk


Postby Gordie12 » Sun Jun 23, 2013 6:19 pm

Route description: Dava Way

Date walked: 22/06/2013

Time taken: 5.75

Distance: 39 km

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The last thing Andrea said as I left the house on saturday afternoon was "remember, it's a walk, not a race!!). No problem thought I, I'm quite happy to wander along in the middle of the field and enjoy the night.

The Ghost Train Walk uses the Dava Way running from Grantown On Spey to Forres and starts at 10pm - as the website says, at this time of year in Scotland on a clear night and with the full moon there can be as little as 2 hours of dusk - not last night :( :( :(

So, up the A9 and parked up in the swimming pool car park next to Forres Academy for 6.15 with registration due between 8 and 9pm.

What a beautiful night, not what I was expecting - could the weather hold for another 10 hours??

Pic 1.jpg


Fed my face with some choccie biscuits and listened to some music to pass the time while contemplating whether or not the event had been cancelled, finally a car parked up at 7.50pm and a bloke got out with a rucksack - looks like it's on then.

By 8.15 a few people turn up to register.

Pic 2.jpg
Early birds


Pic 3.jpg
Getting busier half an hour later


One of the marshals told me there were 120 walkers registered so I started to look round at my competitors (sorry, fellow walkers) to see who looked like they could be quick. Two or three guys standing aloof from the others look fit with all the gear, better keep any eye on them. Another group of three that look fit, would they stick together and walk at the pace of the slowest or would they split - hell, what do I care, I'm here for a walk..

The buses turn up and we're on our way to the start at Grantown On Spey. By now the rain has started but by Dunphail the road looks dry and the rain has stopped. A couple of miles from G on S (which took ages and made the walk back feel like it was really long) a marshal takes the mike and tells us some of the rules of the race (I mean walk). There will be two pace makers for the first 3 miles and they cannot be passed (pace makers, surely that makes this a race). The race will be started by a station master as he blows his whistle (sound like a race to me - official start).

Pic 4.jpg
Grantown On Spey - 10pm Saturday Night


All off the buses, there are people warming up (wow, this is serious) so they are added to my list from Forres of peeps I need to watch (that is if it was a race but as Andrea said, this is a walk).

The stationmaster decked out in what looked like late 19th century attire brings us to attention and asks us to line up at the start - I'm in the front row and genuinely didn't mean to be, I hadn't even noticed the start). After a few words the whistle blows and we're off. The two pace makers set off at a surprisingly fast pace (had assumed they would be slow to bunch us up for the first 3 miles) with a group of three guys close behind, their clearly together as they chat away. I settle in behind the pace setters and the group of three as we head out of G on S. We pass a dog walker and I ask him if he's out for a quiet walk with his dog, he smiles and says yes so I suggest he looks behind him - "bloody hell where did that lot come from and where are you all going at this time of night?". Forres I tell him, he just looks at me, I think he believes we may be a touch soft in the head!.

Out of GonS and on to the disused railway line the pace setters are marching on, the group of three are tucked in behind, I'm 5 yards behind them and a quick look back tells me that the original group of 120 is now down to six as there are only another two guys within 10 yards of me with a gap developing back to the pack - why am I talking like this, it's just a walk.

We stay in position for a couple of miles till the first section of tarmac since leaving GonS when blondie appears from nowhere and passes me and then the group of three - pace to burn!! After the tarmac there is a short single track section through woods before linking up with the disused railway line again. The group in front are doing a pace that is hard to keep up with but I decide that whilst the track is wide I'll try and pass them and eventually I make it despite them taking up as much space as they could, the other chap follows me through so blondie has 40 yards on me and I'm second heading on to the Dava moor with the light fading. I couldn't live with blondie's pace and he headed off, likewise the guy behind me seemed to be struggling to keep up with me so we got a bit spaced out by the time we arrived at Dava which was the first race, sorry walk, registration point.
A marshal told me to head for the glow light and turn left down to the caravan to register and stop for a cup of tea/coffee. Stupidly I headed straight on past the first light as I saw another light in the distance which the path was heading straight for, after 300 yards I realised I had gone wrong and was heading for the light of a cottage so had to turn round and head back. At the caravan blondie was having a tea, I registered but didn't stop as only 7 miles gone and I would settle for the next stop 8 miles further on at Dunphail.

After the caravan there was a short road section before again linking up with the railway and by now the head torch is on as it is getting very dark. After leaving Dava behind I linked up with a marshal who walked with me for a mile and suddenly I realised I was leading (had assumed the guy behind me during my muppetry back at Dava had nipped ahead of me). Looking back I could see a light slowly catching me up and eventually the guy who had been behind me all the way so far was now ahead and setting a really tough pace. The marshal switched his attention to the new leader and now walked with him as the rain started and gradually worsend to the point where it was just humping it down.During this spell Blondie also went past and strangely at 1 in the morning I saw two shapes coming towards me as a Victorian dressed man and lady politely said "good evening " to me as they headed back towards Dava .I was determined to keep the leader and blondie in view but they were edging away and in the hellish weather it was getting harder and harder to see the light from their head torches.

Pic 6.jpg
Dava Moor before the rain came on


The last 4 miles to Dunphail were probably the hardest walking I've ever done, trying to keep a fast pace and absolutey drenched (no way was I losing ground by stopping to put on waterproofs that would just slow me down) while walking through the wettest part of the track.

At Dunphail I could see the distant light through the trees and I could smell cooking sausages and bacon so definitely stopping after checking in with the marshal. Blondie stopped but the leader kept going (how can anyone walk past the smell of sausages and bacon???). After a cup of tea and a bacon roll I grabbed a sausage roll "to go" and was back on the track in second but well behind the leader.

It was now a case of going as fast as I could as if Blondie could keep his pace up in the last section he would get ahead of me and be second so no break from the pace and head down, at least the rain has eased and it's only pouring now. Some fairly wooded sections followed and the marshalling wasn't as good as it had been for the first few miles and my 2nd piece of muppetry kicked in 3 miles from Forres. I could see a narrow track heading off to the left of the main track but couldn't see a sign directing me off the track I was on so stayed on the wider track. Went past a couple of cottages (which I couldn't remember from walking the way a couple of years ago) and then arrived at a junction where I couldn't find a Dava Way sign. Realised where I had gone wrong and headed back to the indistinct turn off and yes there was a wooden sign tucked away behind the foliage and very difficult to see in the poor light - 15 minutes wasted and no idea how many peeps had nipped in front of me??

Only a couple of miles to go now to the finish at Dallas Dhu distillery so tried to finish as quickly as I could arriving at the distillery at 3.45am so a time of 5hrs 45 mins for 23.5 miles with a moving average of 4mph - unheard of for me!.

I was chatting to the marshals at the finish and mentioned that whilst it was a walk and not a race, out of curiosity, how many people finished ahead of me - just the one mate!! :shock: :shock: :shock:

Collected my certificate, watched Blondie finish 6 minutes behind me and floated the last mile and a bit in to Forres to pick up the car. I was only in the car for 10 minutes when the heavens opened so my timing was good but it must have been really miserable for those still out walking.

Told Andrea I'd probably be home between 10 and 11am, arrived at 7.15 to be greeted with "you bloomin raced didn't you, I knew you would!!"

Think I'll enter this walk/race again next time they run it but my thighs are asking me to treat it as a walk next time and accept my rightful place back in the pack.

That was tough!!

PS It's now 30 hours since I slept, I'm hungry but have no idea whether it's for breakfast, lunch or tea also not sure whether to have a kip or stay up till tonight then sleep till Tuesday :? :?
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Re: The Dava Way - Ghost Train Walk

Postby gyles » Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:04 pm

Hi Gordie,

I remember you said you planned to do this one a while back, shame about the weather but great report looks like you enjoyed it. :)
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Re: The Dava Way - Ghost Train Walk

Postby The Rodmiester » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:24 pm

Well done that man, a bit of competative spirit there I think! :) Sounds like good fun, I guess you will be asking Santa for a more powerful head torch for Chrissie :lol: :lol:
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Re: The Dava Way - Ghost Train Walk

Postby Gordie12 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:04 pm

gyles wrote:Hi Gordie,

I remember you said you planned to do this one a while back, shame about the weather but great report looks like you enjoyed it. :)


Hi gyles

Location : Forres - where were you????

Despite the weather it was great fun - definitely worth the journey and I will go back to this next time it's on. After reading your report a few months ago I planned to do Knock of Braemoray afterwards but to be honest all I wanted to do when I got back to the car was to get into dry clothes and get back down the road.

I noticed something about a walk from Forres to Lochindorb in August (think it starts at midnight) so I'm going to see what I can find out and may do that as well.
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Re: The Dava Way - Ghost Train Walk

Postby Gordie12 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:13 pm

The Rodmiester wrote:Well done that man, a bit of competative spirit there I think! :) Sounds like good fun, I guess you will be asking Santa for a more powerful head torch for Chrissie :lol: :lol:


Rolling back the years Rod :lol: :lol: :lol:

First time I've used a head torch for more than a few minutes at the end of a walk so I hadn't appreciated how quickly the batteries were used up and in the end I was switching off when I was on straight and open sections (where I could just see an outline of the track) to save them for the wooded sections but still there was very little light to help me near the end.

Really really enjoyed this................you should try it!!

PS Currently suffering for my efforts...................doing a great impression of an 85 yr old!!
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Re: The Dava Way - Ghost Train Walk

Postby Silverhill » Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:29 pm

Haha, a fun read! No wonder you finished in second at that pace, 40k in less than 6 hours!
Oops, I shouldn't have said that, as it was just a walk :lol:
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Re: The Dava Way - Ghost Train Walk

Postby Gordie12 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:52 pm

Silverhill wrote:Haha, a fun read! No wonder you finished in second at that pace, 40k in less than 6 hours!
Oops, I shouldn't have said that, as it was just a walk :lol:


Hi Silverhill

Thanks for the feedback.

I had been looking forward to doing this since I sent the entry cheque off in February and it really was great fun even with the miserable weather.

At the moment I couldn't do 4km in 6 hours never mind 40km - my legs are telling me I got a bit carried away :lol: :lol:
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Re: The Dava Way - Ghost Train Walk

Postby Gordie12 » Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:42 am

Oops, tried to attach some photos the organisers sent to me but failed miserably - will try again later.
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Re: The Dava Way - Ghost Train Walk

Postby Gordie12 » Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:39 pm

Attempt 2

Some additional photos courtesy of Moray Walking Festival.

The start at 10pm at Grantown on Spey.

GTW - Start 1.jpg
Station master getting us underway


This was the only dog to finish (and start) the walk. I liked his preparation in Forres, after registration he had a snooze on the pavement, clearly saving his strength.

GTW - Dog 2.jpg
I wonder if he was disappointed with the length of his walk on sunday night?


Breakfast being prepared at Dunphail (still can't understand how the leader could walk past this :lol: )

GTW - Preparation of Breakfast 3.jpg
My favourite people during the walk


GTW - Dunphail Breakfast 4.jpg
Breakfast at Dunphail Hall


This one looks like it was taken in the last few miles approaching Forres.

GTW - Wet but Happy 5.jpg
Wet but happy


Last two shots taken at the finish at Dallas Dhu distillery.

GTW - Finish 6.jpg
Showing off the finishing certificate


GTW - finish 7.jpg
All smiles at the end


This is a bi-annual event so anyone thinking about this as something different to try - go for it in 2015!!
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Re: The Dava Way - Ghost Train Walk

Postby gmr82 » Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:07 pm

Liked that report, sometimes the no-hill reports are the best. Cracking effort too :clap:

How do we know you didn't run any of this? If both feet were off the ground at any point, I'll be disqualifying you :lol:
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Re: The Dava Way - Ghost Train Walk

Postby Gordie12 » Fri Jun 28, 2013 10:25 pm

gmr82 wrote:Liked that report, sometimes the no-hill reports are the best. Cracking effort too :clap:

How do we know you didn't run any of this? If both feet were off the ground at any point, I'll be disqualifying you :lol:


Thanks gmr82.

Definitely, definitely no running!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's quite good fun to try and find something just a little bit different and this was definitely different :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: The Dava Way - Ghost Train Walk

Postby mountainsofscotland » Sat Jun 20, 2015 1:25 pm

Nice to find a report of this walk. Anyone else doing this tonight? :)
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Re: The Dava Way - Ghost Train Walk

Postby Gordie12 » Sat Jun 20, 2015 2:16 pm

mountainsofscotland wrote:Nice to find a report of this walk. Anyone else doing this tonight? :)


Good timing - I was hoping to do this again this year but as I just finished the Pennine Way last night it's probably not a good idea (didn't stop me thinking about it though). The weather can only be better than 2 yrs ago.

Hope you enjoy it - it's good fun.
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