Speyside Way, the 'wrong' way, with a difference

Date walked: 10/04/2019

Time taken: 6 days

Distance: 106km

Ascent: 730m

History: In 2013 four of us walked the East Highland Way from Fort William to Aviemore. The finishing point was the noticeboard for the start/finish of the Speyside Way, close to Aviemore Station. From then on I determined to take on the Speyside Way one day.

Logistics: There is some debate as to which is the 'correct' route to walk the Speyside Way. The Rucksack Readers publication favours starting at Buckie and ending at Aviemore, whereas the Footprint map prefers the opposite direction. I have always walked with the prevailing weather behind me so opted to begin at Aviemore. Bag-carrying services, accommodation and transport became the next consideration. Local taxi companies do provide bag-carrying facilities but £168 for the three of us for five drops seemed a little excessive. There was also the problem of returning from Buckie to Aviemore. A quote close to £200 was not looked on favourably. The accommodation proved to be quite straightforward. All of these issues were overcome, as you shall see.

Day 0. Tuesday 9th April 2019.

I left home near Birmingham at 6am, collected my two fellow walkers, and drove to Aviemore, arriving in good time and better weather at 1.40pm. Tried to book into our accommodation at the Old Bridge Inn bunkhouse but, sadly, we would have to wait until 4pm because we were too early!! Went for a walk around Aviemore, had a drink and something to eat and discovered that the start point for the Speyside Way hadn't moved. Returning to our overnight lodging we checked in. A really clean and well-kept facility. Not surprisingly, an early night followed.

Day 1. Wednesday 10th April 2019.

Up at 7am, breakfasted and walking by 9. All of our heavy gear stowed in the car in the nearby car park. Along the main street, popped into Aldi briefly, then set off along the Way. Initial way-marking was a little confusing but we kept on towards the railway and soon picked up the route once more. A gloriously sunny and dry day with breath-taking views of the nearby Cairngorms, covered in snow. Made good time and stopped off for lunch in Boat of Garten at noon. Sat right next to the preserved steam railway station. Lots of mountain bikers about. Set off again at 12.30 and enjoyed a lovely, level, walk into Nethy Bridge. We arrived at 2.15 and booked into the lovely Nethy House Café and Rooms establishment. Very well appointed. Having deposited my daysack I walked back across the bridge and caught the 14.55 bus back to Aviemore, where I collected my car, and luggage, and drove back to Nethy Bridge. We then enjoyed a pleasant, sunny afternoon and evening at the nearby hotel. Another early night.

Day 2. Thursday 11th April 2019.

Another 7am rise but with breakfast in the café. All bags packed back into my car and then set off, about 9. Amazingly it was another dry and sunny day. Easy walking to Grantown-on-Spey where we stopped for lunch. A little hillier this afternoon but made good time to our booked accommodation at Cromdale. Here I had reserved the camping coach on the old station. A very good decision as it is right next to the Way. There is nothing in Cromdale itself. The only hotel is closed on weekdays and the café shuts at 2. I then had an incredible experience. I caught the bus to Grantown at 3.50 and spoke to the lady driver. I said I needed to go to Nethy Bridge but had to change at Grantown. She told me that I didn't have to as the bus itself changed at Grantown and went on the Aviemore, via Nethy Bridge. This is where she dropped me and I then drove back to Cromdale. Nowhere to go so we had a meal lout of our supplies and had another early night. It rained. We were indoors :D .

Day 3. Friday 12th April 2019.

Another lovely, dry day. Spent some time talking to the couple who live on the old station and run the camping coach. Set off just after 9. Easy and flat this morning but nowhere en route for lunch. Stopped wayside and had a snack before pressing on. Much harder going for the first half of the afternoon before rejoining the old trackbed and arriving at Ballindalloch. I thought Cromdale had little to offer. Ballindalloch has the old station and nothing else. We had a mile-and-a-half walk to our accommodation at the Delnashaugh Hotel. No bus service from here to Cromdale so I was anticipating having to get a taxi. Fortunately the lady owner of the hotel offered to take me back to Cromdale by road to collect my car. Not only that. She suggested taking us the Craigellachie (our next stop) the following morning, so I could drop my car there and then bringing us back to start our walk at Ballindalloch. What service :clap: . Enjoyed a lovely evening in the hotel. Still had an early night.

Day 4. Saturday 13th April 2019.

Another 7am rise. Breakfast at 8 and then took my car to Craigellachie. Back in Ballindalloch and walking for 9.30. Yet another dry and sunny day but the wind was stronger and chilly. Mostly flat along old railway track bed, passing lots of whisky distilleries. Took our lunch break at Carron at a wayside bench. Charlestown of Aberlour up next where we again took a short break before taking on the last 2 miles into Craigellachie. Lovely bed and breakfast at Speybank. Spent the evening in a very busy pub where there was a whisky festival in progress. It was actually dark before we went to bed.

Day 5. Sunday 14th April 2019.

In the habit of getting up at 7 now. Excellent breakfast. Away at 9.15am. Another dry, sunny but chilly day. No railway today. More hill and forest. Toughest day so far but still not overly difficult. Once at Boat o'Brig the Way takes to the road so we had 5 miles of tarmac walking. Saw one car in over 2 hours :shock: . Eventually through the outskirts of Fochabers
and find our accommodation at the Red Lion. Luck ran out here so I had to get a taxi back to Craigellachie to collect my car and luggage. The Red Lion was a huge pub and the rooms were similar. Very comfortable. Fochabers boasts a great chip shop that is even open till 8 on a Sunday :D . A relatively early night.

Day 6. Monday 15th April 2019.

The original plan on this last day was to walk from Fochabers to Buckie then catch the bus back, collect my car then drive home. Had a brainwave in the night and, whilst my two compatriots finished their breakfasts, I drove to Buckie, parked up and then caught the bus back to Fochabers. Set off walking about 09.45 along the river. Flat all day today, firstly alongside the river, then along the seafront. Sunny and chilly again. This last part is heavy going, seemingly neverending. Stopped off at the Ice House in Tugnet for a spot of sightseeing and had lunch on a fallen tree in the woods. Arrived in Buckie at 2.40pm. No sign of an arrivals board made this quite disappointing. On the road home at 3.15pm. Only 475 miles to go.

Conclusion: The biggest surprise of all is that we walked for 6 days in April in north east Scotland and never had to put on waterproofs once. Amazing. Yes it was chilly but always dry and mostly sunny. Once walking it was perfect conditions. Achieving the entire walk with car, and bag-carrying , to hand proved a real bonus and saved nearly £400. We met a few other parties who were walking the Speyside Way but they were all walking towards Aviemore. Their choice I suppose but I'm glad I did it west to east. The 6 days were broken down into mileages of 10, 10, 10, 12, 13, 10. This seemed reasonable daily amounts as one of my colleagues has just had his 70th birthday and I am 67 next month.

Anyone seeking clarification please feel free to contact me.

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Comments: 3

Settle to Carlisle in 6 days.

Date walked: 04/10/2014
Distance: 160km
Ascent: 1750m
Comments: 3
Views: 3880

EHW end-to-end in 5 days (God Knows How)

Attachment(s) Date walked: 17/03/2013
Distance: 134km
Comments: 5
Views: 14204


Activity: Mountaineer
Pub: Clachaig Inn, Glencoe
Mountain: Ben Hope
Place: Glen Barrisdale
Gear: walking poles
Ideal day out: An early start and a long ramble.

Long Distance routes: West Highland Way    Borders Abbeys Way    Cateran Trail    Great Glen Way    Speyside Way    East Highland Way    Arran Coastal Way   

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Trips: 1
Distance: 106 km
Ascent: 730m


Trips: 1
Distance: 160 km
Ascent: 1750m


Trips: 1
Distance: 134 km

Joined: Aug 04, 2012
Last visited: Jul 06, 2019
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