Not long after I’d completed the Speyside Way it was extended to the village of Kincraig south off Aviemore. That section is only 10.5km (6.5 miles) and I considered that too short a walk to make all necessary arrangements. Instead I decided to walk from Kincraig all the way to Grantown-on-Spey, in total 37km (23 miles) – quite ambitious considering daylight is rather short these days.
A couple of very helpful early birds gave me, my fellow walker and Pole the dog a lift from Grantown to Kincraig, leaving my car behind. About 30 minutes later we were dropped off, left to our own devices and faced with many miles to cover to get back to my car. No other option was taken into consideration nor was available. It was overcast but much warmer than you’d expect in November. After a couple of minutes’ walk on tarmac we left the village and followed a rather wide, ‘new-looking’ footpath. It was winding left and right, up and down through rolling countryside with the railway line on the left hand side. It was an uneventful but genuinely pleasant walk. Somehow I’d assumed most of the walk to run on tarmac, narrow unclassified roads; I was happy to be proven wrong.
About 2 hours later we reached Aviemore; firstly went to other side of the train line underneath it, then climbed towards the road and crossed it. From there we had to cross the town to its northern end. Honestly, that was the most unimpressive and even mentally boring part of the whole walk. I was pretty happy when we left the pavement alongside the main road, turned right around residential area. After going under a railway line we entered park-like rolling countryside, then went under another railway line and followed the path with a golf course visible through the trees and the Cairngorms in the backdrop. Soon we left the woodland and entered a moorland dotted with low trees. A pleasant walk led us to another forest where after a while the path joined a forest track. Following it we reached the outskirts of the village of Boat O’Garten and some 20 minutes later we stopped at the Village Shop for lunch. The coffee and pasty I got there were excellent and I enjoyed them while sitting outside in the surprisingly warm November sunshine.
Walking out of the village led us along the main road, across the river Spey and ½ mile later to a forest car park. From there a well-maintained footpath ran alongside the main road between Coylumbridge and Nethy Bridge. We walked along the path for a few miles, crossed the road once and into the Abernethy Natural Reserve and then all the way to the village of Nethy Bridge. After a stop for lunch (part 2) we reached the old railway station. From there the route ran along the old railway line. That was the most uninspiring part of the whole walk, sweetened by rather spectacular sunset. About the last 2 miles of that section we walked in the twilight, and reached the A95 in near-darkness. The last leg led us a bit away from Grantown-on-Spey in semi-circle, eventually turning back towards an old railway bridge across the river Spey. There we had to put our head torches on to continue. It made the final leg a bit more exciting – not often have I a chance to use my head torch on walks.