Another day off and another one with unfavourable forecast for the tops of the hills. On the other hand there were areas with the weather predicted as quite reasonable. I wanted to make most of that and decided to walk the Dava Way – a long-distance walk I’d had on my radar for quite a while. As with most of those walks, this one is not circular, so I needed a lift to the starting point from the finishing line. A couple of friends generously provided such assistance, taking one companion of mine, my dog and myself from Forres to Grantown-on-Spey. There we were left in the town centre, ready to find the way back to my car, patiently waiting in Forres, just 24 miles away… The only way was onwards.

The Dava Way starts near the Grantown-on-Spey Caravan Park on the north-west side of the town. We found our way there walking along relatively quiet at this time of the day streets, went round the caravan park and under an old viaduct,  and climbed an old railway embankment. On top of it was the beginning of our long walk. The first signpost we spotted, displaying 23.5 miles to Forres, was a bit intimidating. But we felt fresh and strong, the weather was good enough – dry and mild – so we cheerfully hit the road.

The Dava Way follows the old railway line that used to run between Grantown-on-Spey and Forres. A very few sections aside, this walk – by definition – is flat, unfortunately not only in geographical sense. Its long straight stretches are tiring, the route is pretty uneventful and monotonous and kind of numbing the senses. Thankfully the monotony is broken by information boards alongside every now and again. In total eighteen of them provide bits of information on the history, wildlife, nature or terrain – some of them I found really interesting, some of them not so. Horses for courses…

Of course we found some more or less interesting landmarks and points of interest, like Lady Catherine’s Halt. Personally my favourite part was the open space of Dava Moor, with its gentle hills covered with blooming heather and gently swept by a light breeze. Woodland sections I found a little boring, though more welcomed in the afternoon when they provided shadow and relief from the surprisingly scorching sun. At one point I spotted the outline of the hills of Caithness on the horizon, the Moray Firth at the bottom and the Findhorn Bay deceptively close. That view spurred my increasingly tired feet to carry on with determination. I’ve just used the word ‘deceptively’ deliberately – from that spot there was still a long way to go. As the day progressed, the temperature rose and walking in the sun was more and more exhausting, and we were running a bit out of steam. The last 4-5 miles seemed to ever expand; we were walking for ages just to learn that we’d just covered one mile…

Eventually we reached the leafy southern suburbs of Forres with its spruce houses and manicured lawns. There was still about one mile to cover, but the prospect of getting back home helped me to bring some reserves out in order to reach my car. When we got there I took off my walking boots with great relief. A few minutes later we left Forres completely knackered, but proud that we’d made it.