A Walker’s Journal by Anthony Linick
The Speyside Way is one of Britain’s newest footpaths – inaugurated in 1981 and reaching its current configuration only in 2000. Its close companionship with one of Scotland’s great rivers means that you will be walking in a beautiful countryside throughout the 66 or so miles of the basic route – which is well-waymarked throughout. There are, however, a number of additional options, spurs for instance, that cover the territory from Ballindaloch to Tomintoul and Craigellachie to Dufftown plus an eleven-mile southern extension from Aviemore to Kingussie – The Badenoch Way. Because the latter has been nominated for eventual inclusion in The Speyside Way itself Gavan and I chose to add it to our totals when we walked the route in 2010. (Gavan, a longtime walking partner, can be encountered in greater detail in my book, A Walker’s Alphabet: Adventures on the Long-distance Footpaths of Great Britain – published in 2010 and available from the publisher at www.authorhouse.co.uk or from www.authorhouse.com or from www.amazon.co.uk or from www.amazon.com.
My account of our experiences on the Badenoch Way appears as Day 2 in the narrative that follows; we had already walked the stretch from Boat of Garten to Aviemore as Day 1. In these first two days of our venture we were walking from north to south (away from the sea), a direction favored by many walkers. Then we reversed ourselves and walked in a northerly direction from Boat of Garten to Buckie on the remaining five days of our trip.
The printed guides available to the walker seem to prefer the north to south direction, but there is a website with downloadable instructions for doing it the other way round at www.walkthespeysideway.co.uk/index.html. A search of Internet resources will provide useful information on guidebooks, specialist maps that include the entire route, and information about accommodation and baggage transfer. Gavan and I once again relied on the excellent services of the Mickledore firm in our efforts. They supplied us with the Rucksack Reader description of the route by Jacquetta Megarry and Jim Strachan.
On the whole the Speyside Way is not strenuous but there are two days with a good deal of up and down and some stages are rather lengthy. I was surprised to discover that, in spite of its name, the route only rarely keeps the river in view. Still, it meanders through lovely territory throughout and I would have no hesitation in recommending it. It has the additional advantage of being the only UK footpath in which the taking of a wee dram or two is a cultural necessity. You can let me know how you got on by contacting me via the Contact Page.
Day 1: Boat of Garten to Aviemore – 6 miles
Day 3: Boat of Garten to Grantown-on-Spey – 10.5 miles
Day 4: Grantown-on-Spey to Ballindalloch – 15 miles
Day 5: Ballindalloch to Craigellachie – 12.5 miles
Day 6: Craigellachie to Fochabers – 13 miles
Day 7: Fochabers to Buckie – 10 miles