Cottage Holidays Guide to Speyside in Scotland
The Spey valley lies between Inverness and Elgin. The river Spey meanders past distilleries, castles and forests on its way to Spey Bay and the North Sea, where you may be lucky enough to spot dolphins and seals. The Moray Firth Wildlife Centre and Nature Reserve, 5 miles north of Fochabers, on the coast has exhibitions about dolphins and local wildlife (Tel: 01343 820339). Boat trips are also organised out of Buckie Harbour, to view the dolphins close up. Telephone the Benbola on 01542 832289. Trips run daily.
Speyside can be visited from both Aberdeenshire and Invernesshire. Search for:
Speyside is excellent for walking. The Speyside Way is a well known walk that runs for 70 miles from Buckie, through to Spey Bay and then on to the village of Tomintoul, high in the Grampians, and then further on to Aviemore. The first section of the walk follows the Spey, where you may see ospreys fishing for salmon. Much of the walking is on the flat, with the occasional small hill, which makes it suitable for walkers of all abilities. The route is well marked and takes you through beautiful countryside and woods using footpaths, a former railway line and occasionally the road. Finally you climb out of the valley and up into the hills.
The forest walks of Fochabers are excellent for day trippers. These are very well laid out and managed. Finches of all types are common and tend to hover around the tables in the picnic areas to collect crumbs of food that visitors have dropped.
The Spey is one of Scotland's best rivers for fishing for salmon, sea and brown trout. You will need a permit to fish and these are available locally.
If you're planning to participate in a whisky tour, Speyside has several on offer, including Glenfarclas, two miles east of Ballindalloch. Combine it with a trip to Ballindalloch Castle. The Glen Grant distillery can be found in Rothes, Aberlour which also has the splendid Major Grant's garden to view. The cooperage just south of Craigellachie provides an insight into this related ancient craft. Come and view the oak casks, used for storing wines, whisky and other spirits, being made. There's also an audio-visual presentation, exhibition and tastings.
Some other visitor attractions in the area are:
- Baxters Visitor Centre
- Aviemore Centre with its amusements, Highland Wildlife Park (7 miles south)
- Strathspey Steam railway (Tel: 01479 810725)
- Landmark Visitor centre - adventure playground, forest maze, nature trail, microworld, water coaster and lots more fun, at Carrbridge, near Aviemore
- Brodie CountryFare for quality Scottish food and gifts
- Speyside Heather Centre, where you can purchase a few of the 300 varieties of heather to take home with you to always remind you of that wonderful holiday you had in Speyside.
Dates to note:
1st week of April for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. Tastings of Scottish whisky, food, music and culture.
1st week of August for Speyfest - a series of concerts, ceilidhs, stomps, and crafts, supported by Scottish bands and artists, in Fochabers. It sounds too good to miss.
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