Speyside Way, North East Scotland's Long Distance Footpath
The Speyside Way runs from from Spey
Bay south to Aviemore making use of forest tracks, minor roads, the track-bed
of the old Speyside Railway and tracks that alongside the River Spey itself.
There is much beautiful scenery and the walking is a pleasant contrast to
that of the higher mountains that normally draw walkers to their challenge.
The route can be split into short
sections which provide a good day's walk if a car is left at either end or
someone can be cajoled into picking up weary walkers at the end of their
day. Alternatively, the whole route can be done over five to seven days.
There are youth hostels along the way and plenty of places of interest to
visit especially if whisky tasting appeals as there are distilleries along
the route open to visitors.
We set off fairly late for a Sunday
"stroll" on the section from Ballindalloch to walk to Grantown on Spey by
way of Cromdale. The walk started at the old Ballindalloch Station, now
converted into a Youth Hostel, and it is the old railway track that we
followed. There are still signs along the way showing the speed for the
trains and further down, we came across an old railway carriage which was
still reasonably intact. The route left the railway track and meandered
around the hills through forests which, at this time of year, are colourful
with the leaves changing to their autumn hues of red, gold and brown. The
tracks are soft underfoot from the fallen leaves.
We were disappointed to reach a point
just before Cromdale though where access through the forest and farmland is
not allowed meaning that we had a seven kilometre walk along a minor road.
Not so pleasant underfoot but we made good time and arrived in Cromdale in
the dark. The way is well signposted but darkness makes the waymarkers a bit
hard to find so after a detour towards the local water treatment plant, we
picked up the track again this time following the river. By now it was very
dark and the trees took on unusual shapes, the forest full of eerie sounds!
As we walked we talked of ghosts and
ghouls, anything could have been lurking in the depths of the forest. A
strange sound startled us, a clattering high in the trees above. Some huge
bird must have been frightened by our presence and taken flight but in the
dark and after the ghost talk, it could have been anything. The forest is
strange at night, soft and eerie and all too soon we reached the main road
which leads back to Grantown.
We walked about seventeen miles
including the detour along the road in six hours and if starting out at
three in the afternoon in October, I recommend taking a headtorch and not
talking about ghosts!