A tremendous range of walking opportunities awaits anyone prepared to slip on their boots and get out into the wonderful fresh air of Speyside. Every town and village is surrounded by a network of signposted footpaths with many of these local walks suitable for all levels of fitness and abilities.
For those who enjoy walking further afield, there is an endless choice of varied routes from river and woodland walks, to more strenuous climbing of some of the area’s peaks – Ben Rinnes, Ben Aigen, Carn Daimh – and into the Cairngorm Mountains, with Ben MacDui, Scotland’s second largest mountain, rising from Speyside.
Right through the heart of the area runs the Speyside Way, a long-distances footpath which is soon to be extended to start at Newtonmore in the south and runs all the way to Spey Bay and Buckie on the Moray Firth Coast. Much of the route utilises former railway tracks making the walking easy whatever the surrounding terrain.
Two other main walking routes lead off the Speyside Way and into the interior of Speyside. The Tomintoul spur branches off at Ballindalloch and heads up Glenlivet and over Carn Daimh to Tomintoul, the highest village in the Highlands. A similar branch line breaks off at Craigellachie and heads up to Dufftown, where the remainder of the former railway into Keith is now a preserved track run by volunteers of the Keith & Dufftown Railway Association. The Glenlivet Estate has an award-winning network of paths all over the Tomintoul and Glenlivet area, mostly through forestry or over moorland.
Tomintoul is an ideal centre for walks into the Cairngorm mountains and along the beautiful River Avon valley. The Ailnack Gorge, Scotland’s largest glacial meltwater channel (600ft wide, 300ft deep, 6 miles long) is within easy walking distance of the village.
A number of routes into the Ladder Hills lead off from just outside the village of Tomnavoulin, from where there is also a magnificent walk through the hills at the Suie into the Cabrach, a remote and beautiful area where new walking routes are currently being developed.
Like Tomintoul, Dufftown is a Walkers Are Welcome town which requires a commitment to continually improve and expand the local walking network. New walking attractions are regularly being developed and Dufftown’s children have recently created their own Story Walks, marked with sculptures, through the town’s woodlands.
At Aberlour and Craigellachie, walks tend to focus on the banks of the River Spey and offer great opportunities to watch the rich and varied wildlife that lives alongside the river. At Aberlour there is a footbridge suspended over the water allowing access to the walks to Elchies, Archiestown and Knockando on the other side, and at Rothes The Dounie walk offers a relaxing ramble through woodlands just outside this whisky town.
Two festivals now showcase Speyside’s varied walking opportunities, with the Moray Walking Festival taking place in late June and the Tomintoul Walking Festival being held in September. You can find links to these two walking festivals in the navigation menu on the right of the page.