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The Speyside Way, from Buckie to Newtonmore

By Shaun Patterson on 1st November, 2022

Post-doctoral Research Assistant at the University of Glasgow

From now until the end of November, we’ll be showcasing one of Scotland’s Great Trails, the Speyside Way, and telling the stories of the people that use it – whether it be the whole long distance route or local sections as part of daily life here in the Cairngorms National Park. First up, Shaun Patterson takes us on his journey from Buckie to Newtonmore.

In the summer of 2022, I decided to walk the Speyside Way, from Buckie to Newtonmore: around 85 miles in total. I am a post-doctoral research assistant at the University of Glasgow, at the Paul O’Gorman Leukaemia Research Centre, and it was time for us to start our annual fundraising campaign. In our research centre we have an in-house fundraising committee which supports our blood cancer research greatly and we try to raise as much money as we can through hiking, walking, Christmas fairs, gin tasting and all sorts of other challenges and activities. In the previous year, I walked the West Highland Way and raised over £500 for our charity. This year, I thought I could match this target by taking on the 85 miles of the Speyside Way. Knowing how beautiful the Scottish countryside is, it seemed appropriate to try another long route which I knew would live up to these standards.

Me, armed with a tent, a backpack, and a dream

I decided to take the route in the Buckie to Newtonmore direction, partially because my parents live in Glenbuchat, meaning I could chance a lift from their home (!) and end closer to my own home in Glasgow. Knowing little about the way when I started, I was really looking forward to it – although the information online was very helpful once I became familiar. I decided to do this walk on my own: sometimes it’s better knowing your own pace and going with it, plus I tend to be at peace with my own company for a few days away from the stresses of work and regular life.

On day one I first enjoyed a flat walk along the Buckie coastline towards the Spey Bay. I particularly enjoyed passing through the old Yardie and old drying areas for washing, before listening to some seals barking and flopping around on the beach. Quickly the way takes a turn down towards Fochabers, where I encountered one of the best fish & chips I have ever had (and there has been a few…).




A very distant view of the seals en route to Spey Bay

A lot of walkers might take a stop off here, but I intended to make it to Craigellachie on my first day, to meet my 5-day target. So, I continued, possibly a little later than I intended, and so when I entered the many woodlands that followed, it was little darker than I anticipated. However, the ongoing forests were both delightful and very manageable (and flat for the most part). By the time I arrived in Craigellachie I was greeted by the Fiddichside Inn, immediately off the route, in which the pub host was incredibly welcoming and chatty. I camped in the neighbouring Fiddich Park, just a stone’s throw away.

The incredible woodlands encountered en route to Craigellachie

I set off the next day for Ballindalloch, another ~ 12 miles away. This route was again manageable and stunning, weaving along near the Spey River and through some more woodlands. I camped again in Cragganmore, for which there is a lovely, designated camping area at the settlement. I went for a 30-minute walk to Ballindalloch for a nice dinner at the Delnashaugh hotel, where the owners were incredibly accommodating: they even gave me a lift back to the campsite. It is at Cragganmore where walkers can choose to divert to Tomintoul for the additional spur: I chose not to, given my limited time frame and sore legs.

Sign from the Cragganmore Distillery, placed upon arrival in Cragganmore

Day three involved a ~14.5 mile walk to the more populous Grantown-on-Spey, which involved an open trek through slightly hillier farmland. I did, unfortunately, miss the chance to see a rare Capercaillie in the Anagach Woods along the way, although they are not often observed without a lot of patience. This section of the walk was a bit more challenging, but I was met with a nice pub dinner and a dram at the end in the Craig Bar. The campsite at the main caravan park was very well maintained and I would recommend it to anyone looking for this kind of trip.








Beautiful views of the rolling countryside which are seen along the whole route

Next, I was onto Aviemore – although again, some walkers could stop off at Boat-of-Garten halfway. I should add that the walk through Boat-of-Garten provided an incredible Nordic-like experience while passing houses set in between tall forestry. Unfortunately, however, I was drenched by torrential rain, but at least my stop at the Nethy Bridge hotel provided some respite.

A deer caught in the woods

After Aviemore I went onto Newtonmore in one leg, which was challenging at points due to fatigue and some slightly hillier climbs. Past Kincraig, the view of Ruthven Barracks towards Kingussie was an impressive feature to walk around. Finally, and fortunately for my legs, the walk from Kingussie to Newtonmore was flat and very idyllic.




A distant shot of the Ruthven Barracks silhouette

All in all, I would highly recommend this route for anyone wanting to pursue a long walk through the Scottish countryside. It is challenging but manageable, perhaps more so than the hillier West Highland Way. It can also be done in parts, and I saw many walkers with dogs or bicycles, presumably from local towns and villages. I was able to see parts of Scotland that I otherwise would not have reached by car alone. In addition, I met my £500 fundraising target, so I was delighted on multiple accounts!

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