Discovering Scotland on foot is easy thanks to a huge network of long-distance trails. While the West Highland Way remains a firm favourite, there are plenty of others that offer a great self-guided walking holiday, including the Speyside Way. Here are 12 great reasons for walking Scotland’s superb Speyside Way, which heads 65 miles Buckie on the Moray Firth, north-east Scotland, south-westwards to Aviemore in the heart of the Cairngorms.
1) Sea to mountains: The long-distance walk links two fabulous Scottish landscapes, the Moray coast with the Grampian mountains, on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park.
2) Walks for all: You can complete the walk in 65 miles over five or seven days or add an extension or two to take the walking mileage to 90 miles over two extra days. There are additions to the Way, including the 10-mile Dufftown circuit and a 15-mile Tomintoul Spur.
3) Peace and tranquillity: The quiet paths and trails of the Speyside Way are a true delight.
4) More for less: You do not need to climb big mountains to see stunning views. The Speyside way offers fabulous vistas from the valley, where it often follows the route of the River Spey, out over the wider Cairngorms National Park.
5) Whisky galore: The River Spey and Speyside are famously linked to numerous whisky distilleries. You could visit the Glenlivet Distillery on the Tomintoul Spur and the world famous Glenfiddich Distillery on the Dufftown Circuit. Enjoy a distillery tour and a wee dram or two. Thanks to luggage transfer offered with Macs Adventure walking holidays on the Speyside Way you can buy a bottle of your favourite dram because luggage is transferred for you between accommodation.
6) More whisky galore: The Macs Adventure walking holiday spends a night at the hotel gem, the Craigellachie Hotel. This hotel has a whisky bar with no less than 550 different malt whiskies. Try a few but remember you’ll need a clear head for the morning after when you start walking again!
7) Geology gems: From the Earth Pillars car park on the Speyside Way, you can explore a short circular walk to reach a spot where there are stunning views over the River Spey. Look down to see the remains of dramatic “earth pillars”, which are red stony deposits laid down by a glacier and the river thousands of years ago.
Craigellachie Bridge across the River Spey. Pic credit: Craig Williams
8) A famous bridge: Built by civil engineer Thomas Telford, Craigellachie Bridge is located at Craigellachie, near the village of Aberlour. The cast iron arch bridge was constructed from 1812 to 1814 and has a single span of 46m (151ft). It was considered revolutionary in its time because it comprised a very slender arch that was not possible using traditional masonry construction.
9) Feed the reindeers: The Cairngorm Reindeer Herd offers a lovely diversion when walking in the Speyside area.
10) Wildlife wonders: Capercaillie, red squirrel and deer are just a few of the wildlife sights that you might spot while walking the way.
11) Bird’s eye view: At Boat of Garten you can take a detour to visit the impressive Osprey Centre at Loch Garten.
12) A Scottish outdoors town: The outdoors town of Aviemore is located in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. It’s a great place to spend some time, where you want to eat, drink or buy some outdoors clothes or equipment.