Distance 17.5 kms, finish time mid-afternoon.
We return to the edge of the woods and golf course to start today’s walk in fine weather without any sign of rain. There are several community walks through the woods and The Way partly follows one of these and ultimately joins the route of an old military road. We then move onto a road which passes the grand houses of Speybridge and across the old bridge over the River Spey. Following the road slightly uphill then down we take a path to the old railway line which we follow to Balliefurth Farm. The “homestead of the ferry” which previously carried people to Ballintomb the rallying ground of the Clan Grant. On the way we encounter a farmer training his dogs to work sheep – one is older and experienced, one is young and learning and the other appeared to be there just to cause the sheep to scatter so the other two could work.
Throughout the farm there are information boards about the importance of the traditional meadows for wildlife. Across open countryside to the house at Balliemore and through the farm gate to cross two bridges and continue on a straight route, with the Cairngorms visible ahead. After passing Abernethy golf course the route runs into the outskirts of Nethy Bridge at the old station where we stop for a break.
At Nethy Bridge the Speyside Way turns right over the bridge on the main road out of town before picking up a path and then a boardwalk to the minor road to Loch Garten. Through Duackbridge onto a path in the woods running parallel with the road and then a wide path through Abernethy National Nature Reserve. The route heads onto a narrow path over undulating ground eventually heading downhill before a delightful path leads through woods to the road leading to Loch Garten and a diversion to RSPB Osprey Centre. Judith wanted to visit the Osprey Centre so David rang to check what was there – they were open, had café facilities and picnic areas but the Ospreys left last week.
We all continue across the road following the path to a couple of ponds with a walkway to view the wildlife – in particular dragonflies. The path follows the B970 for a very short distance and then through a metal gate to keep us off the road. When the path runs out we return to the road, crossing the bridge over the Spey, and passing a golf club. After going under the railway line we come to the Boat Hotel and Speyside Railway Station. We are in time to see the old steam train arrive and depart before enjoying a few beers in the sun.
Bob mistakenly thinks we are staying at the Boat which is a beautiful hotel rather than the Boat House which is several hundred metres up the road and probably the worst accommodation we encountered on the whole trip – cramped rooms, poor plumbing and mould in the bathrooms. So bad in fact that we seriously talked about taking a small bag and booking into the Boat for the night, particularly when we saw they had a Sunday Special rate including dinner. In the end we decided that we should “share the joy” with everyone else even though it was the evening before Annie’s birthday.
A delightful dinner is taken in the dining room at the Boat and a dram and several links are enjoyed to defer our departure to the Boat House.