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The regions of Speyside and Strathspey are home to almost half of the 100 or so malt whisky distilleries in Scotland. This self guided walk follows way marked trails between distilleries is specifically chosen to provide the best combination of walking and whisky. Each days' walking allows you to visit distilleries and experience the processes and products that have made the amber liquid of ‘Scotch’ world famous.
Visit the world famous Speyside whisky distilleries as you walk along the fast flowing salmon filled River Spey, passing woodlands and heather rich glens. Sample famous malts and blends from Glenlivet and Glenfiddich to name but a few as you walk with ’spirit’ along original smuggler’s trails in the shadow of the Cairngorm mountains. Enjoy this self-guided walking holiday in a region now inhabited by ospreys, eagles and the elusive wildcat.
Starting in the small town of Craigellachie at the heart of malt whisky country this 39-mile whisky trail guides you through the naturally rich Spey Valley. Walk through mixed woodland, farmland and moorland with pockets of remnant forest that support relict populations of rare and elusive animals such as the capercaillie. A history of illicit whisky production and smuggling is survived by smugglers trails that afford intriguing sidewalks through the woods and glens passing clear rushing burns and heather covered hills. Passing through the Glenlivet estate, the Speyside Whisky Trail brings you to Tomintoul, the end of the trip. With 4 days walking and 5 nights, there is the chance to visit at least 6 distilleries without ever having to drive!
Only 2 hours from Inverness this small town lies in the heart of whisky country and is a fitting starting point to the Speyside Whisky Trail. The Cooperage centre in the town is the only one of its kind remaining and you also have great views of the River Spey from Telford’s Iron Bridge. The Craigellachie Hotel famously boasts 550 malt whiskies behind the bar. .
On this way marked circular section the trail follows the River Fiddich to the world famous Glenfiddich Distillery. Following an easy ascent you are afforded wonderful views of the Spey Valley from the summit of Gownie Path at 1100 ft.
Follow the River Spey to both the Aberlour and Cardhu distilleries en route to the hamlet of Ballindalloch. The walking is a through a mix of atmospheric woodland with hidden waterfalls utilising a disused railway track bed.
Ballindalloch is the site of the beautiful and renowned Ballindalloch castle and the famous Cragganmore Distillery. Leaving the village the Speyside Whisky Trail takes you out into the wild scenery of upland heather clad moorland. Rising up to the summits of Cairncay and Deskie the trail descends to the welcoming site of the Glenlivet distillery and surrounding estate.
Following in the footsteps of illicit whisky smugglers of the 18th century the trail ventures into the wild uplands with views of the Cairngorm Mountains. At Tomintoul the renowned Whisky Castle shop has been selling the finest malt whiskies for over 100 years . Mike and Cathy will surely provide you with a warm welcome and help you stock up on the ‘Life Blood of Scotland’!
The Speyside Whisky Trail passes many distilleries, on this trip there is opportunity to visit at least 6. Below is a brief description to some of the most famous:
At the start of the walk and a great introduction to the Speyside whiskies. The visitor centre overlooks the River Spey with magnificent views across to Ben Rinnes. Explore the ‘Story of Oak’ and how the special casks develop the distinctive character of the Macallan.Macallan Distillery official website.
At the junction of the River Spey and the River Lour the distillery gets it’s name from the Gaelic for ’mouth of the chattering burn’. Taste the wort and wash and nose the different fractions of the spirit run.Aberlour Distillery official website.
This world famous distillery was set up in 1886 with the goal of creating the ‘best dram in the valley’. You can make your own decision with a tour ranging from the general distillery experience to a ‘connoisseur tour’.Glenfiddich Distillery official website.
The only whisky distillery started by a woman. Experience the distinctive warm and clean ‘silky’ taste with a tour.Cardhu Distillery official website.
Positioned on the banks of the River Spey at Ballindalloch you may take a tour to experience one of the most complex and characterful whiskies of all. Uncover the story of John Smiths whisky dream.Cragganmore Distillery official website.
This distillery is steeped in history. Due to whisky taxes imposed in the 18th Century, the remote area around Glenlivet was a centre for illicit stills. As Glenlivet is the site of the original single malt you will want to experience the taste on a tour. There is also much scope to walk way marked smugglers trails on the estate.Glenlivet Distillery official website.
In the latter half of the 18th Century a series of Government imposed Whisky taxes led to high level of illicit distilling. The remote nature of Glenlivet was perfect for this practice and up to 200 illegal stills were thought be operating at the peak of production. In order to move the cargo a number of renowned smugglers created secret paths through the forests and glens and these may still be walked to this day. Indeed, there are a number of way marked circular paths within the Crown Estate that surrounds the Glenlivet distillery and 2 are described below as interesting side trips through the area:
Following a new excise act in 1823, George Smith was the first person granted a licence to distil in the area and his endeavours led to the creation of the Glenlivet Distillery. This trail, starting at the distillery, follows the River Livet to the remains of the 14th Century Drumlin Castle built by the Earl of Buchan, also known as the ‘Wolf of Badenoch’. The trail follows grassy paths, woodland tracks and surfaced trails and is graded as easy walking.
Robbie MacPherson was one of the most famous smugglers and this challenging walk is the perfect way to experience the terrain in which he hid his whisky from the prying eyes of the excise men. Starting at the Glenlivet Distillery the route bypasses ‘Josie’s Well’, a natural underground spring that provides perfect water for making whisky. The trail takes in the site of George Smith’s original distillery and moves out into the rugged moorland so typical of the region. Following a trek up to Carn Daimh (summit -570m) the walk also passes the remains of the 16th Century Blairfindy Castle. Due to the remote upland nature of this walk and the associated changeable weather conditions it is imperative to be properly equipped. This walk is graded as moderate.
A free map and guide is published by the Crown estate – ‘Walk and Explore Glenlivet Estate’. This covers these and many further walks in the region.
Ordnance Survey Landranger maps no. 36 and 37 cover the area.
A useful resource for these walks is the official Glenlivet Estate walks website.Glenlivet Estate Walks official website.
One of the highlights of this walking holiday is the high standard of the accommodation you will enjoy. The hotels, inns, guesthouses and B&B’s we use are hand-picked to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. All offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. We do recommend that you book this trip early as the area is always popular and the hotels and inns do fill up early, especially in high season. You will find descriptions, photos and weblinks to a selection of the accommodation below.
This independent walking holiday is available to solo walkers but as all our holidays are priced per person based on two sharing there is a single supplement payable to cover the additional costs we incur. If you require single rooms within your party we will of course try to accommodate your request subject to availability.
Breakfast is included each morning while lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Your accommodation will be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival, alternatively your guidebook also includes details of local shops and convenient lunch stops on the way. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants and your info pack will of course have recommendations.
Many of our clients choose to add extra nights along the walk and these can be added at the time of booking. Granton-On-Spey is a great place to have an extra night at the end of your walk.
The Highlander Inn is in the centre of the village of Craigellachie, the heart of Scotland's Malt Whisky Trail.
Geraldine and Peter welcome you to their home which is a unique and traditional B&B in the heart of malt whisky country. They will look after you well and make sure you have a comfortable and relaxing stay.
Recently refurbished to a very high standard, Woodville offers quality B&B accommodation in peaceful woodland surroundings in Ballandalloch.
Set in a secluded Glen, Cragganmore House has glorious views to the River Spey and provides fantastic accommodation and evening meals for walkers.
Argyle House Bed and Breakfast, Tomintoul in the Scottish Highlands dates back to 1891. It is a stone built, cottage-style building of one and a half stories.
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
This walking holiday is available to solo walkers but as we incur additional baggage transfer costs there is a solo walker supplement payable.
Daily door to door baggage transfer is included in the cost of your holiday. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 15kg per person.
Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.
Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers do not accept pets.
Air: Aberdeen (3hrs) and Inverness (2hrs) both have airports which are convenient for the Speyside Whisky Trail. Use one of the following modes of transport listed below to get you to the start and finish of the walk.
Road: Craigellachie is approximately 60 miles and a 1.5 hours drive from both Inverness and Aberdeen.
From Aberdeen follow the A96 as far as the village of Huntly, and then take the A920 to Dufftown. From here the A944 will take you to Craigellachie .
From Inverness you can take the A96 all the way to Craigellachie.
From Glasgow and Edinburgh the distance is approximately 170 miles from each with a travelling time of up to 4 hours.
From Glasgow simply follow the signs for the M9 and A9 to eventually join the A95 just north of Aviemore to take you to Craigellachie.
From Edinburgh simply follow the signs for the M90 and A9 to eventually join the A95 just north of Aviemore to take you to Craigellachie.
Rail/Bus: If travelling by bus from Inverness airport you may change buses at Elgin. The overall journey time is approximately 2 hours. If travelling by bus from Aberdeen airport a combination of a bus to Dyce followed by a train to Elgin and a final bus will take approximately 3 hours in total. You may also travel out from Aberdeen town centre by train to Elgin and a bus onto Craigellachie. This journey will take up to 2.5 hours.
You are offered the option to transfer to either Craigellachie or Granton-on-Spey following your final nights' stay. Public transport from Granton-on-Spey is available via a bus to the town of Aviemore (0.5 hrs) where trains run to Inverness (45m) and onward to Aberdeen (4-5hrs total journey).
There are also direct train services to Glasgow (3hrs) and an indirect service to Edinburgh (3.5hrs). Coaches operated by Scottish Citylink also run directly to Glasgow (3hrs) with an indirect service to Edinburgh (3.5hrs).
In order to plan all journeys correctly via public transport we suggest that you utilise the Traveline Scotland website.
Planning a trip on the Speyside Whisky Trail can be daunting, especially if this is your first long distance walking holiday. We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful.
The Speyside Whisky Trail is a relatively easy walk so if you are a regular walker or lead and active lifestyle you'll enjoy the walk. We offer a range of itineraries so you can choose your preferred daily distance so hopefully you will find an itinerary that suits your preferred level of activity. If you currently don’t enjoy an active lifestyle we suggest regular walking in hilly terrain supplemented by cardio vascular exercise for at least 6 months prior to your walk. A good gym or personal trainer will be able to draw up a personalised training programme.
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the Speyside Whisky Trail is extremely popular especially over April/May and July/August. You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans.
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc.
Traditionally April/May has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better. Although I believe any time between April and October offers a wonderful experience. Be aware that certain distilleries may be closed at weekends especially early or late in the season. We suggest that for any specific distillery visits you research beforehand to avoid disappointment.
We recommend you walk from North to South as all the guidebooks are written in this direction and this is also our personal preference.
Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your
itinerary and moved on to your next overnight accommodation. We ask
that you limit your luggage to one bag of up to 15kg per person.
Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets.
You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop.
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Comments about macs adventure Speyside Whisky Trail:
Our trip to Scotland was very exciting.
We booked the Speyside Whisky Trail with MacsAdventure. Firstly, because we did not know the destination and did not know which accommodations to pick and how far we could go each day. Secondly, to avoid shouldering all our belongings day by day. Having luggage-transport by taxi was the best thing to do. You can enjoy the hiking tours day by day with a small rucksack.
We loved our accomodations. They all were very friendly and helpful and did everything to make our stay comfortable. We stayed two nights at Bridge View B&B in Craigellachie, two nights at the Cragganmore House in Ballindalloch and one night at Argyle House in Tomintoul. Each host was very welcoming and breakfasts were better than anything (especially, because they always agreed to pan fry our self-collected mushrooms).
The daily tours were well planned. We had a (rather poor) map and there were enough signposts on the main trail. The only time we got lost, was on the way from Aberlour to Dufftown. How shall I say... we never reached Dufftown because we got stuck in a field of gorse up the hill. It was our first walking day and we did not really know which signposts to look for. We therefore recommend having an online map on the smartphone (there is also special apps for maps for trail hikers).
The tours itself were quite ok, sometimes there were long distances straight ahead, following the old railway. They were actually a little bit monotonous. Other parts of the trail lead up the hills where you find yourself walking through peat and bog. And then there is parts on or next to meadows and grazing land where you don't see stones and holes in the ground. So it was always a new challenge with every new day. But all in all we liked it a lot. We especially liked the tour from Glenlivet estate to Tomintoul. Very recommendable!!
Finally the Whisky: we went past a lot of distilleries, but actually only visited one - the Glenlivet. That's was great! :)
Comments about macs adventure Speyside Whisky Trail:
We used Mac's last year and found the accomodation patchy. Pre warned we changed from the recommended list once prior to arrival, but still had to change from the ghastly "highlander inn" after we arrived.
The maps were good, but seeing that there is available a much better map locally, I cannot understand why it is not used. It was the local tourist map for the speyside walk, which had far more detail, and contours than the map provided by Mac's.
Having said that, when we rang to ask for changes to our schedule, Laura and others were most helpful in reprogramming to suit our needs - well done team.
Comments about macs adventure Speyside Whisky Trail:
The plus side: all bookings worked fine. Accommodations were prepared for us, all taxis were informed and worked on time and as planned.
The down side: It was hard to make a small change in pickup time. That cost five days and many phone calls and emails.This process could be improved.
Also: the printed material "The Speyside Way" is wrong or at least outdated in several areas. On Day 1 we did not find the trail and needed to turn back after a few hours. At night another couple who booked the same tour told us the same story. Also, extras (detours) were heavily underrated (booklet said 0.5 miles, but was 3 miles in reality), and generally the booklet does not describe the paths well enough. Better map material would be good.
Comments about macs adventure Speyside Whisky Trail:
Really enjoyed this walk, with some truly spectacular scenery. The walking itself wasn't too challenging, the hardest part was finding a toilet along the way!! The guide book was a bit misleading, saying 'you will walk past Cardhu Distillery' when it was actually a mile off the track. Overall though, we enjoyed fabulous accommodation and a memorable walk. Well organised and thoroughly enjoyable.