When you want to get away from it all and enjoy the beauty of nature, there’s perhaps nowhere better to do it than on the 100 kilometres or more of the Speyside Way.
Tucked away in a quiet part of the country, it follows the River Spey as it twists and turns on its way to the sea. With acres of wild parkland to be explored along the way, you’ll have everything you’ve ever wanted and more from your next walking holiday.
Also, be sure to check out the other trails and spurs that all connect up to the Way. That way you won’t miss out on anything!
The River Spey is a Sight not to be Missed
The beautiful thing about the river is that it’s been largely untouched by man for centuries. There are small villages on its banks, but none of the large shipping or boat trips that have come to be seen on so many waterways. This allows you to transport your mind to a calmer and more idyllic place, so you can rest and relax as you enjoy the entire route from beginning to end. What more could you want from a walking holiday when you think about it?
Aviemore is the Perfect Place to Start Your Journey
This is a town steeped in history, and with plenty of character thrown in for good measure. The locals are very used to having walkers begin their journeys here, and are sure to offer you plenty of words of encouragement if you decide to venture out on the evening before. Staying there the night before you set off is a great way to get into the holiday mode, and it allows you to really immerse yourself in the culture in this part of the world.
You could also plan to stop off at a few of the smaller villages along the way if you’re travelling in the summer months when live music is popular. That way, you’ll feel like you’re travelling to something, as well as having the satisfaction of tackling one of the best long distance walks in Scotland.
There’s Plenty to See along the 107 km Way
If you are a single malt kind of person, you’ll be glad to know that the Way runs past several of the famous Speyside distilleries that are used to make one of the region’s greatest exports. As well as stopping off for a quick taste test, you could stop in at any one of the dozens of small artisan cafes along the Way. Now that large parts of it have been dual purposed to allow cyclists to enjoy it too, there are plenty of options to choose from when the time comes to fill your stomach.
You could also take a detour and explore part of the Dava Way — over 30 miles of trail that follows an old railway. It’s a great little addition to the usual route for those of you who want to experience the same terrain that passengers will have shuttled over at speed more than 100 years ago.
Finishing in Buckpool Harbour is an Experience You’ll Remember Forever
The harbour in Buckpool will be a welcome sight for even the most experienced of walkers who reach the end of the Way. Built centuries ago, it has long been a foundational part of the local economy, and is sure to offer you a hive of activity to go off and explore should you wish to. All this comes together to make it the perfect place to finish your holiday by booking in for the night before your journey home begins in the morning.
And if you don’t want to go home just yet? Set up camp in Buckpool for a couple of days and regale the locals with how you’ve just walked more than 100 km to share a drink with them. It’s the kind of place where people will love to hear your story, and welcome you through the door the moment you arrive.
Photo take from Flickr, author Vytas Blazys
Late Spring is the Best Time to Visit Because it’ll be Cool and Dry
Walking holidays are a little unlike summer holidays, because you want to avoid the real peak sun. If you go in late spring, you’ll have the perfect combination of sunshine and gentle cooling breezes. That way you get to feel the sun on your skin, but you’re not forever stopping off to top up your water bottles, or looking for shade every 15 minutes because you’re out on your feet. Book ahead, and you’ll have your pick of the accommodation too.
Add in the Tomintoul Spur if You Want an Extra 23 km in Your Legs
If you don’t want to go home just yet, then the Tomintoul spur is the most popular way to extend the Way. It offers stunning views of the rolling hills, and it’s a great way to see even more of this beautiful little corner of Scotland. All you need to do now is decide whether you want to walk the spur at the beginning, middle, or the end of your walking holiday. Sounds like the perfect problem to have, doesn’t it?
The 3 Guidebooks That Tell You Everything There is to Know about the Speyside Way
Jacquetta Megarry’s The Speyside Way is one of the classic guidebooks on the Way. It offers plenty of local facts and photos, combined with an easy to read style that’s ideal for taking on your travels.
If it’s a slightly more recent book that you are looking for, then The Speyside Way by Alan Castle (different book, same title) was published more recently and offers the same wealth of information and advice.
Finally, don’t forget to read Alan Castle’s second work on the Way — The Speyside Way: A Scottish Great Trail. It includes expansive detail on other routes and spurs such as the Dava Way, and even the Moray Coast trails. Ideal if you really want to get to know the local area.