About the Speyside Way

135 km(84 mi)
Type of trail

Difficulty is highly personal. Be aware of the weather conditions as bad weather turns easier trails in difficult trails especially in the mountains.

Easy, Moderate

Lodging means a mix of hotels, hostels or AirBnB’s.

Wild camping, Camping, Lodging
Elevation gain
2400 m(7874 ft)
Hills, Coastal, Forest, Mountains
Some of the time
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As one of Scotland’s Great Trails, this trail links the Moray coast with the Cairngorms National Park, passing through the heart of whisky country. You’ll primarily follow the Valley of the River Spey, the second-largest river in Scotland and the most dynamic one, renowned for salmon fishing. The entire journey is a progression of scenery from the coastline, through birchwoods and pastures of the lower Spey, to wild moorland slowly replaced by mountains. Traditionally starting in Buckie, you will have a flat start, but going the other way around might be easier depending on the prevailing wind. The choice is yours!

This well-waymarked trail, mostly on good paths near the River Spey and on the old rails of the Strathspey Railway, takes you through the most important whisky region of Scotland, producing some of the most famous brands worldwide. Not without reason, this trail is also known as the Whisky Trail. So, don’t miss the chance to enjoy “a wee dram” of whisky. Also home to the famous Walkers Shortbread, you will explore Scotland’s finest cuisine.

Profile picture Sancia Gimbel.

Sancia Gimbel

Sancia Gimbel, born and raised in Germany, has always searched for her next adventure. Having predominantly traveled solo, she is well acquainted with the advantages and disadvantages of being a solo hiking woman. Having hiked several trails all over Europe, her favorite place (and biggest adventure) is still Scotland.

Her current plan is to explore South America, mostly through backpacking and hiking in Patagonia, and North America through road trips and hiking over the next few years. You can follow her adventures on Instagram!

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The Trail

Overall, this trail is easy, with some steep ascents. You will never be too far away from civilization, even though you’ll find yourself in some wild and remote areas. However, in certain sections, extra care is needed, especially in bad weather. If you can’t get enough, there is a link to the Dava Way and the Moray Coast Trail to form the Moray Way as a circuit.

How to Get Around

The closest cities with international airports to the trail are Glasgow and Edinburgh, with Inverness also having an airport. Buckie, your starting point, lacks a train station. The most convenient way to reach Buckie is to take a train to Elgin, followed by a linked bus journey to Buckie. Public transport along the trail can be sporadic, with some stops offering bus services, while others have no public transport available for a significant section of the journey. Plan your transportation carefully to ensure a smooth and efficient travel experience on the trail.


There is also an offshoot that makes a hilly route from Ballindalloch to Tomintoul. The Tomintoul stretch is beloved by many for being the most beautiful, and wildest, part of the whole route.

9 day itinerary Speyside Way

Stage 1:

Buckie – Fochabers, 17.5km | 10.9 mi

Stage 2:

Fochabers – Craigellachie, 20km | 12.4 mi

Stage 3:

Craigellachie – Ballindalloch, 19.5km | 12.1 mi

Stage 4:

Ballindalloch – Grantown-on-Spey, 23.25km | 14.4 mi

Stage 5:

Grantown – Boat of Garden, 17.5km | 10.9 mi

Stage 6:

Boat – Garten to Aviemore 9km, | 5.6 mi

Stage 7:

Aviemore – Kincraig 10.5 km, | 6.5 mi

Stage 8:

Kincraig – Newtonmore, 21km | 13 mi

Stage 9:

Alternative route: Cragganmore – Tomintoul, 25km | 15.5 mi


Buckie, serving as your starting point, provides a range of accommodations including B&Bs, hotels, and a campsite. The town also boasts ample shops to meet your needs. Along your route, each stop offers overnight stays, with almost all of them providing a campsite. Accommodations vary, with some being quite basic, lacking a shower, or situated on the premises of a hotel. It’s essential to note that certain villages are small, so booking in advance is advisable.

While not all stops feature a shop, and some only have small local stores, there are plenty of restaurants, ensuring that food is never too far away. However, if dining in restaurants isn’t your preference, plan your provisions wisely.

For those interested in guided hikes and baggage transfer services, numerous organizations cater to these needs.

Wild Camping

Wild camping is officially allowed in Scotland! Let me tell you about the “Scottish Outdoor Access Code” (link below).

Lightweight camping is permitted in small numbers and only for 2 or 3 nights at the same place. Do not camp on private property, in enclosed fields of crops, or near farm animals, and stay well away from buildings, roads, and historical structures. Do not disturb deer stalking or grouse shooting. If you’re close to a house, ask the landowner for permission (Scottish people are super friendly) and leave not trace.

There are some special rules for specific National Parks; please check them out on their website. Additionally, they have a useful page about campsites all over the country and a lot of other helpful information!

Scottish Bothies

Hiking in Scotland offers a special treat: their bothies! While we’re all familiar with mountain shelters, often used in emergencies or bad weather, they may not always entice us to spend a night unless absolutely necessary. However, the Scottish bothy takes the experience to a whole new level. Some even come equipped with a flushing toilet or electricity.

These huts are lovingly cared for, not just by the Mountain Bothy Association (www.Mountainbothies.org.uk — yes, you can become a member and support them), but also by locals who enjoy spending a night in the wilderness.

The best part? You don’t pay, but it operates on a system of trust and respect:

• Always leave the bothy better than you found it!
• Everyone is welcome! It’s not “your” bothy.
• No vandalism.
• Take all your rubbish.
• You can leave useful things for the next person but never leave rotting food.
• Bury human waste far away from the bothy and water sources.
• Ensure the doors and windows are properly closed when you leave.

Keep in mind, the act of offering us a free and often charity-run shelter is a kind one. Please treat it with the utmost respect.

Best time of the year

Similar to many other countries, the optimal time for hiking is during the summer months (April-September). However, Scotland offers a unique proposition with its landscape dominated by hills, lots of hills! The highest mountain, Ben Nevis, stands at 1345m (4413ft). So yes, Scotland is hikable all year long, and each season brings its advantages and challenges.

Summer Months: During the summer, you are blessed with long days, providing ample time to cover your distance without feeling rushed. It’s an opportunity to enjoy lochs for a swim and have leisurely lunches with scenic views. Especially in certain highland areas, hiking during the dark should be avoided due to boggy terrains that require special attention. The summer months generally offer the driest days, with temperatures reaching about 18-20°C (65-68°F). However, Scotland’s abundance of water, including rivers, lakes, and marshes, brings its biggest challenge: MIDGES! Tiny little mosquitoes that can be quite bothersome and sting.

Winter Months: On the upside, winter months are free of midges, but there’s a trade-off. Expect a lot of rain, and snow is possible from the end of October until March. The days become significantly shorter, nights colder, and storms more frequent, making camping more challenging. But in the winter months, you have the opportunity to see the country with fresh eyes as trees and fields undergo a transformation, changing their colors from green to warm orange all over.

In conclusion, a very German piece of advice from my side: 😄 “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong gear!” Scotland will be your grandest adventure with the right equipment.

Safety & Gear

Ensure you’ve chosen the right season for you.

For Summer Months

  • Don’t forget a mosquito net for your face, thin long sleeves, trousers (no worries, Scottish summers rarely exceed 20°C), or insect repellent.
  • Opt for a tent that is mosquito-safe.
  •  Since it rains about 182 days in Scotland (lucky you, this part of Scotland counts as one of the driest), a rain jacket is essential, even in summer. You will never be safe from getting wet.

For Winter Months

• Always pack a hardshell raincoat and rain trousers – you will get wet!
• Depending on your chosen trail, include an ice axe and crampons.
• A tent is often inevitable, especially in remote areas where bothies or village accommodations may not be accessible. During winter, storms can be intense, so ensure your tent has sufficient safety lines. If not, your tent may break or fly away. A dangerous situation in which none of us wants to find ourselves.

General Gear

• A water filter is a must-have due to Scotland’s abundance of water sources and rich wildlife. Filter or boil water for at least 3 minutes. This way some areas even allow you to carry none at all.
• A paper map is recommended for a good overview of the area, helping you find quick escape routes or alternative paths. And as a good practice for upcoming trails where you simply need it.
• Scotland is home to diverse wildlife, including deer, birds, and seals. Not a danger for you but maintain a respectful distance to avoid disturbance.
• Always check the weather before heading back on the trail.
• Due to remote areas with unreliable reception, especially for solo hikers, a satellite tracker is highly recommended and can be a lifesaver.
• A guidebook provides insights into upcoming terrain and helps you find suitable spots for your tent, considering the boggy areas where camping may be restricted.

With this comprehensive gear, you can hike with confidence, whether navigating through summer rains or winter storms. Stay safe and enjoy the adventure!

Good to know


Even though you’ll be near the River Spey, finding water can pose a problem. Remember to bring your water filter or purchase water daily from shops. Additionally, you can inquire politely for a refill in pubs along the way.

Wild Camping

Wild camping is officially allowed in Scotland! Let me tell you about the “Scottish Outdoor Access Code” (link below).

Lightweight camping is permitted in small numbers and only for 2 or 3 nights at the same place. Do not camp on private property, in enclosed fields of crops, or near farm animals, and stay well away from buildings, roads, and historical structures. Do not disturb deer stalking or grouse shooting. If you’re close to a house, ask the landowner for permission (Scottish people are super friendly). As always, leave no trace.

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Terms of Use: important to all visitors on this website. We strive to publish high quality content and information on this website. However it’s always possible that we’re missing out on some crucial information. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps) were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. Therefore, hiking-trails.com and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individuals hiking or following this route. Should you choose to hike this trail, this is always at your own risk. Check out our guidelines for safety hiking and Leave No Trace principles at the hiking 101 page.

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