Esselstyn- Self Guided Speyside Way

Monday 13th May – Tuesday 21st May 2024

Number of Travellers: 2
Duration: 9 Days / 8 Nights


The Speyside Way covers just over 100 kilometres (65 miles) from the fishing village of Buckie on the Moray coast to the village of Aviemore, in the foothills of the great Cairngorm Mountains.

The Speyside Way trail follows the banks of the River Spey, often along disused railway lines as it makes its way from the sea to the Cairngorms National Park.

Following the banks of the River Spey, this is the easiest of our long-distance hiking routes. However, it still presents a good challenge and offers enjoyable walking and hiking through a changing landscape. Hiking through villages, woods and rural riverlands, the path is fairly quiet so you won’t be sharing it with many other hikers and will often find that you have it to yourself.

Please note: Total daily distances are given for each stage but will vary slightly as you also need to walk to your accommodation each day which will usually add a short distance.


  • Hike the Speyside Way from the sea to the Cairngorms National Park - home to some of the highest mountains in Scotland.
  • Enjoy the satisfaction of hiking from point to point each day, covering over 65 miles along the trail.
  • Visit some of Scotland's finest whisky distilleries, many of which are located along the route of the Speyside Way.

Day by Day

Day 1 - Monday 13th May - Arrive in Inverness

On the first day of your trip you travel to Inverness and spend the night here. Tomorrow you head to Buckie to start the hike.

Overnight: Inverness | Inverglen Guest House
Meals Included: None

Day 1 - Directions Read More +

Since it is around a ten minute walk or so from the bus or train stations with your bags, it is suggested that you take a taxi from the City Centre and taxis are widely available at the stations or in Inverness City Centre.

Day 1 - Inverness Read More +

Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands, became Scotland’s fifth city at the millennium. It lies at the north end of the Great Glen, where the River Ness flows into the Moray Firth. The origins of Inverness lie on its western edge at the now wooded crag of Craig Phadrig. A fortress atop this crag was a capital of the Pictish kings from as early as the 400’s AD. A settlement was established by sixth century AD with the first royal charter being granted in the thirteenth century. In 1727 Fort George was built in the town, a large fortress capable of housing 400 troops. Fort George surrendered to the Jacobites when they took Inverness in February 1746 before their eventual defeat at nearby Culloden in April that year. After the garrison had surrendered the Jacobites laid explosives and destroyed Fort George. The red stone Inverness Castle you see today was built in the 1830s to house courts and administrative buildings.

Day 2 - Tuesday 14th May - Transfer to Buckie then hike to Fochabers

From Inverness, you take the train (journey of less than an hour) to Elgin. Here a pre-arranged taxi will meet you and transfer you to Buckie for the start of the walk. Your luggage is transferred ahead to your accommodation from this point. Please note the train is not included in the cost of your trip and will need to be arranged in advance. Setting out on the walk now, you follow the coastline westwards enjoying sea views from Buckie to reach the River Spey at Spey Bay. Then turning south you begin your trek along the river banks, with your first night’s stop in Fochabers. Today is an easy day with little ascent – perfect for a warm-up for what lies ahead!

Overnight: Fochabers | Grant Arms Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast
Walk Details: 18 km / 11 miles | 65 m / 213 ft elevation gain

Day 2 - Directions Read More +

As the Speyside Way approaches Fochabers it passes under the A96 road. From this bridge, follow the main road into the village. The Grant Arms Hotel is clearly signposted situated directly on the High Street.

Day 2 - Transfer to Elgin Train Station and onto Buckie Read More +

Please note that there is a train that departs Inverness at 08:56 hrs and arrives into Elgin at 09:45 hrs (the next service departs at 09:46 hrs reaching Elgin at 10:38 hrs).

Ace Taxis of have been booked to uplift you from Elgin Train Station at 0945 hrs and transfer you to the start of the Speyside Way in Buckie. Ace Taxis will then transfer your luggage to your accommodation in Fochabers.

Therefore, please take your bags with you from Inverness on the train to Elgin.

Ace Taxis will be waiting for you in the Taxi Rank outside Elgin Station. If you would prefer to take the later train service please advise and we will re-arrange the taxi transfer.

Everything has been pre-arranged for you, however, if you do need to contact them, they can be reached on 01343 820820.

Day 2 - Fochabers Read More +

Fochabers is a charming village close to the River Spey in the county of Moray. It is a pleasant and friendly place with a population of around 1800. The current town of Fochabers dates from 1776, prior to the founding of the present village. The old town of Fochabers stood a short distance to the north and nearer Gordon Castle. The fourth Duke of Gordon had been for some time desirous to remove the present Town or Village of Fochabers upon account of its inconvenient nearness to Gordon Castle and at the beginning of 1776, he took steps to shift its inhabitants to a new site. The architect John Baxter of Edinburgh, already commissioned by the Duke in the renovation of Gordon Castle, drew up the plans for the layout of the new town. The first feu was taken up in mid-1776 and over the next twenty years or so the planned town took shape with some of the early tenementers being paid to flit from the old town. Later residents had to pay entry money. The village is also home to a family-run company, Baxters the well- known maker of Scottish produce.

Day 3 - Wednesday 15th May - Fochabers to Craigellachie

Today is more challenging with undulating countryside meaning more ascent and descent. You start by following quiet country roads through forested lands overlooking the river. After passing a bridge at Boat o’ Brig you then get off the road and enter attractive woodland as you walk across the lower flanks of Ben Aigan. This is the more challenging section with more ascent, but then it’s all downhill to your accommodation at Craigellachie.

Overnight: Craigellachie | Bridge View B&B
Meals Included: Breakfast
Walk Details: 21 km / 13 miles

Day 3 - Directions Read More +

As you approach the village of Craigellachie the Way will take you onto the A95 and Victoria Street, the main road through the village. Do not follow the Way into Fiddich Park but instead stay on Victoria Street and after a short distance, you will reach Spey Road on your left (signposted Village Hall). Turn sharp left onto Spey Road and after approximately 110 yards/100 metres turn right onto Leslie Terrace. Bridge View is 175 yards/160 metres along the terrace on the left hand side.

Day 3 - Craigellachie Read More +

Craigellachie lies at the very heart of Speyside situated on the Eastern bank of the River Spey near where the river merges with the Fiddich. The name means ‘rocky hill’ and the village dates back to circa 1750. Craigellachie is dependent on the whisky industry and is home to the Speyside Cooperage where local professional Coopers make whisky casks. The Cooperage has an excellent visitor centre and is on Dufftown Road. Craigellachie Bridge was built by Thomas Telford in 1814. A plaque on one of the towers guarding the entrance to the bridge records that the metalwork was cast in Wales, another plaque shows that the bridge was restored in 1964.

Day 4 - Thursday 16th May - Free Day in Craigellachie

Today is a free day to relax or explore the local area, perhaps enjoying some of the local produce with a nip or two.

Overnight: Craigellachie | Bridge View B&B
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 5 - Friday 17th May - Craigellachie to Ballindalloch

Today’s section of the trail is a lovely hike on easy terrain, following the banks of the river with sections along the old former railway line, which is now a flat and grassy track – meaning there is very little ascent today! You’re also in prime whisky country now, so you may even like to consider stopping off to visit a distillery today. Aberlour is a good choice! At the very least, you can look forward to a local dram with dinner tonight, wherever you eat.

Overnight: Ballindalloch | The Delnashaugh
Meals Included: Breakfast
Walk Details: 19 km / 12 miles | 48 m / 157 ft elevation gain

Day 5 - Directions Read More +

The Delnashaugh Hotel is about one mile/1.6 km from the Speyside Way and directly on the well marked Tomintoul Spur. At Ballindalloch Station leave the Speyside Way and walk to the left onto Cragganmore Road, following the signs for the Tomintoul Spur. Follow this road onto the main road (A95). Turn left and walk past a small shop. The hotel is on the right just past the shop and up a short hill. Alternatively, the hotel can offer a courtesy lift from the stage itself or anywhere in the near vicinity. However, advance notification is required to ensure that they have a driver available so please contact the hotel a few days in advance.

Day 5 - Ballindalloch Read More +

Ballindalloch is a small village on the River Spey. The Spey and the Fiddich are rivers famous for the Malt Whisky Distilleries using their waters to distil uisge beatha (the water of life), ie whisky as we call it today. Speyside boasts over 50 distilleries, more than half the total in Scotland. Ballindalloch Castle is one of the most beautiful and renowned castles in Scotland. Known as the Pearl of the North, it is located in the heart of Speyside near to the famed local whisky distilleries of Cragganmore, Glenlivet, Glenfarclas and Glenfiddich. Surrounded by majestic hills, and with the tumbling waters of the Rivers Spey and Avon flowing through the grounds, Ballindalloch is one of the few privately owned castles to have been lived in continuously by its original family. The Macpherson-Grants have resided here since 1546.

Day 6 - Saturday 18th May - Ballindalloch to Grantown-on-Spey

Today will be the most strenuous day of the trip with a longer distance and undulating terrain. The path today is a mixture of paths and some more disused railway, but it can be boggy for short sections. Today you will enter the Cairngorms National Park, with the mountains growing clearer and closer in the distance. Enjoy good views of the heathery hills and old woodlands as you hike today, including the beautiful community owned Anagach Pinewoods as you arrive for tonight’s halt at Grantown-on-Spey.

Overnight: Grantown on Spey | Strathallan House
Meals Included: Breakfast
Walk Details: 24 km / 15 miles | 500 m / 1,640 ft elevation gain

Day 6 - Directions Read More +

Strathallan House is easy to find. As you approach Grantown-on-Spey you will reach a tarmac road, ie Forest Road. Turn right onto Forest Road and continue all of the way along Forest Road until Forest Road turns into Seafield Avenue. Simply continue along Seafield Avenue until you reach a T-junction with Grant Road on both the left and right. Turn left and continue down Grant Road until you reach Strathallan House clearly signposted on the right hand side of the road.

Day 6 - Grantown-on-Spey Read More +

Grantown-on-Spey, the Capital of Strathspey, is in the centre of the Scottish Highlands. A traditional Highland town on the River Spey on the northern edge of the Cairngorms National Park, it is a fine example of a Georgian planned town – one of the first to be set out in this fashion in the 1760’s. It has many historic buildings, a tree lined Square and striking Georgian and Victorian architecture. The town is surrounded by ancient woodlands much of which is community owned and which offer a unique habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. The town has an award-winning Museum which tells the story of Grantown’s beginnings brought to life by an extensive photographic collection and audio visual display. Here you can find out about Queen Victoria’s Royal Visit of 1860, the coming of the railways and Grantown’s development as a popular holiday destination.

Day 7 - Sunday 19th May - Grantown-on-Spey to Boat of Garten

You’re now into the national park and today should be a very enjoyable hike, surrounded by gorgeous scenery. You start off following more old railway to the charming village of Nethybridge. After Nethybridge you enter the northern part of Abernethy Forest – a huge nature reserve owned by the RSPB. It’s a great section to look out for wildlife including red squirrels, and with good forest trails until a short section of road takes you over the river Spey once more and the lovely village of Boat of Garten.

Overnight: Boat of Garten | The Boat Country Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast
Walk Details: 18 km / 11 miles | 90 m / 295 ft elevation gain

Day 7 - Directions Read More +

From the Speyside Way, you arrive in Boat of Garten at the north end of the village. Turn left onto Spey Avenue and follow this road for a short distance until it bends to the right onto Deshar Road. Follow this road which takes you directly to the hotel.

Day 7 - Boat of Garten Read More +

Boat of Garten is a small village in the Highland area of Badenoch and Strathspey. The settlement took its name from the nearby ferry over the River Spey and the village grew with the arrival of the Highland Railway when the first bridge was built. The railway through the village was built by the Inverness & Perth Junction and Strathspey Railway Companies in the 19th Century and is now preserved as part of Strathspey Steam Railway. Known as The Boat to locals the village is famous for the nearby Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Reserve at Loch Garten. When the first ospreys returned to breed in Scotland, this was the location they chose to nest. Now you can watch them close-up thanks to non-invasive CCTV. The reserve also has some excellent walks with the chance to see red squirrels & dragonflies.

Day 8 - Monday 20th May - Boat of Garten to Aviemore

The final section of the route to Aviemore is a short and easy hike to finish your Speyside Way adventure – easily done in a morning or afternoon. If you would like to extend the walk to make a full day of it you could first hike back into Abernethy Forest to see Loch Garten and Loch Mallachie – a great place to spot Osprey – before heading back to Boat of Garten. Or, get to Aviemore a bit earlier and maybe take a ride on the steam railway! Setting out for Aviemore you’ll hike along a good track with glorious views of the mountains. The path goes through lovely birchwoods and open moorland, and you can keep an eye out for the Strathspey Railway steam locomotive going by. Arriving in Aviemore at your final guesthouse you can look forward to a celebration dinner tonight – you’ve done it!

Overnight: Aviemore | Ravenscraig Guest House
Meals Included: Breakfast
Walk Details: 10 km / 6 miles | 49 m / 161 ft elevation gain

Day 8 - Directions Read More +

As you approach Aviemore from the North you will pass under two railway lines and join the village’s ‘orbital’ footpath system. As you walk into Aviemore you will join the main road through the village and Ravenscraig is on the right hand side of the road, opposite the War Memorial. The end of the Way is 547 yards/500 metres further on and on your left, at the Cairngorm National Park Display just after the local Police Station

Day 8 - Aviemore Read More +

Aviemore (gaelic: An Aghaidh Mhòr) is situated in the Cairngorms National Park within the Parish of Duthil and Rothiemurchus. Aviemore railway station is on the Highland Main Line and is also the southern terminus of the Strathspey Railway, a heritage railway. The village grew as a result of the railway junction built in 1898 following which the Highland Railway became a major employer, constructing housing for its staff and the Aviemore Hotel. As well as transporting passengers, the railway was the lifeline of the distilleries in the Spey Valley. Aviemore was one of the first skiing resorts to be established in Scotland with the opening of the chairlift in 1960 and is also notable for being near the freely grazing reindeer herd at Glen More, the only one in the United Kingdom.

Day 9 - Tuesday 21st May - Depart Aviemore

After breakfast this morning you can start your journey homeward. If going south to Edinburgh or Glasgow you can head directly from Aviemore on the train or bus. Alternatively if heading for London or elsewhere you can head north to Inverness to catch a connecting flight from Inverness Airport.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Trip Details

Inclusions Read More
  • Accommodation on a Bed and Breakfast basis in Guest Houses, Bed and Breakfasts, Small Hotels and Inns on the route
  • Luggage transfer for 1 bag per person for the duration of the trip, meaning you will only have to carry a day rucksack. Strict weight limit of 18kg per bag.
  • Route notes which include a map and full directions to your accommodation.
  • The services of the Wilderness Scotland Team prior to & during your trip.
Exclusions Read More
  • Meals not mentioned in the inclusions
  • Train ticket from Inverness to Elgin
Notes Read More


The door to door luggage transfer service for your walk has been organised with Ace Taxis. There is no need to contact the company as everything will be arranged for you. However, if you do need to contact them, they can be reached on 01343 820820.

With the exception of your first walking day where you should take your bags with you on the train from Inverness to Elgin, your bags will be transported from and to the individual establishments where you are staying. Your bags should be available for collection each morning at around 0930 hrs. Please clearly label your bags with your name.

One bag per person is included in the trip, with a maximum weight limit of strictly 18 kg per bag.

Any laptops, tablets or similar items should be carried in your day rucksack. If these items are placed in your main luggage which is transferred by Ace Taxis each day, these items are carried at your own risk and you accept all responsibility for any damage, theft or loss.
We recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance at the time of booking. Your travel insurance should cover the activities undertaken, medical and personal accident risks, repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue services and cancellation and curtailment from the date you confirm your booking with us. We also recommend that you take out insurance which includes baggage cover.



Bed and Breakfast

Breakfast is included at all stages of your trip.

Packed Lunches

These are not included but can be ordered from most establishments, provided that you order upon arrival. Alternatively, on most days there are cafes, shops or restaurants where you can buy lunch on route. Your accommodation host will be able to advise you on this.

Evening Meals

These are not included but are available locally at all stages. We recommend booking your dinner reservations in advance to ensure you get a table.

Dietary/Medical Requirements

Please advise the accommodation owners on arrival if you are vegetarian, vegan or have any other special dietary requirements.

Accommodation Bookings

Since your accommodation has been booked on your behalf by Wilderness Scotland, it may be necessary to quote our name as a reference on arrival at your accommodation.

Important – Late Arrivals

Accommodation providers ask walkers to telephone them to advise if they intend to arrive any later than 1800 hrs. Walkers who do not arrive at their intended overnight stop will cause grave concern in respect of safety, so co‐ operation in this matter is greatly appreciated. Contact phone numbers for all of your accommodations are provided in this pack.


If you decide that you cannot continue your walk, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can contact the establishments concerned.

Credit Cards

The majority of establishments will accept credit cards (Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted but not Diners or American Express).


Our aim is for you to have the best experience possible whilst in Scotland. We are aware that unforeseen circumstances can be quite challenging so our advice to all of our guests is to take out relevant insurance to help make things less of a challenge if the unforeseen happens.

If travelling from a European country outside the UK your insurance policy should include medical cover, curtailment, sickness & injury cancellation prior to the trip and personal accident cover. We also strongly recommend you have cover for other travel and personal effects.

If travelling from within the UK, we recommend you are insured for personal sickness & injury cancellation prior to the trip and any travel insurance you feel appropriate to your needs.

If travelling from further afield, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc it is best to research insurance locally to cover all your travel and medical needs.



All routes are undertaken entirely at your own risk. Ensure you are properly equipped with sufficient food, suitable footwear and wind and waterproof outdoor clothing. Take the relevant Map with you and familiarise yourself with the use of a compass and bring this with you at all times. Please leave brief details of your intended route and anticipated return time with your accommodation hosts. Please confirm with them that you have returned safely at the end of your day.

All route timings are calculated on the time we would expect a reasonably fit person to complete the route with minimal stops. Please allow longer if you intend to relax and enjoy the views to the full, or if you feel your fitness levels are lower.

These route notes are intended as helpful guidance only. You should be experienced in reading maps and using a compass prior to undertaking any walks in upland areas or remote coastal locations. You must use your judgment in order to decide whether the suggested daily route is within your capabilities, giving careful consideration to the wind and weather conditions on the day. You are solely responsible for your own safety and well‐being in wilderness areas and you must undertake all walks at your own risk.

While we will do everything we possibly can to assist you in the unfortunate event of any accident or mishap, Wilderness Scotland Ltd will accept no responsibility for any accident or injury sustained during the course of your self‐guided walking holiday.



If you require any assistance or support prior to or during your trip then please contact our office on the details below:
Wilderness Scotland
Dalfaber Drive
PH22 1ST

E‐Mail: [email protected] Tel: +44(0)1479 420020.

The Wilderness Scotland out-of-office hours number is +44 (0)7766 794640.
Please only call this number for things that cannot wait until the office is open again.

Important Additional Information Read More
Terms & Conditions Read More

Please see our booking terms here.

Get in Touch


Inverglen Guest House

7 Abertarff Road | Inverness |
IV2 3NW | Scotland
Phone: +44 (0)1463 716 350

Grant Arms Hotel

42 High Street | Fochabers | Moray |
IV32 7DX | Scotland
Phone: +44 (0)1343 820 202

Bridge View B&B

Leslie Terrace | Craigellachie | Aberlour |
AB38 9SY | Scotland
Phone: +44 (0)1340 881 376

The Delnashaugh

Ballindalloch |
AB37 9AX | Scotland
Phone: +44 (0)1807 500 379

Strathallan House

Grant Road | Grantown on Spey |
PH26 3LD | Scotland
Phone: +44 (0)1479 873 930

The Boat Country Inn

Deshar Road | Boat of Garten |
PH24 3BH | Scotland
Phone: +44 (0)1479 831258

Ravenscraig Guest House

141 Grampian Road | Aviemore |
PH22 1RP | Scotland
Phone: +44 (0)1479 810278