Speyside Wanderings

Published by MS

Following on from our Easter travels in the Torridon/Applecross region of Scotland, we had a long day of driving to reach the Cairngorms National Park south of Inverness. We passed by Loch Ness and detoured via the backroads through Dunlichity (yes that is an area name) until we reached the A9 heading south. As we exited our warm car in Carrbridge (no pun intended) we were immediately hit with a cold breeze that seeped in through every hole in my jeans. A quick look at the old stone bridge and art gallery, we promptly returned to our warm wheels. 

Driving over the hills towards the National Park, the even larger munros in the background were doused in snow with sunshine bearing across them. A refreshing sight set against a backdrop not quickly forgotten.

We have done a lot of walking, so a change in activity was required so we chose kayaking on Loch Morlich. Though the cold air remained, the sun was shining and the scenery was bliss for a quick paddle. Whilst getting out of the car, a hail shower didn’t dampen our moods as we put on our waterproofs (quite a British word to include over-trousers (pants) and a gortex jacket). It’s probably the first time I’ve ever been paddling with so little skin showing but it was mandatory. They even offered to rent me a wetsuit instead! As soon as I pushed off the bank, memories of teenage years in the canoe polo and school kayaking team flooded back. They were good times. There is something peaceful about exploring the waterways until another canoe bumps into you, interrupting that quiet moment. As we returned to the Boat House, we were snowed upon for about 15minutes. It was a unique and interesting experience for which I can now say I have been Snow Kayaking. 

For our accommodation, we chose an AirBnB in Auchnarrow, a blink and you’ll miss it stretch of road to the east. It lies in Moray and unbeknownst to me the start of the Malt Whisky Trail of which includes the Speyside variety. Our home for two nights was hosted by the wonderful Felicity. Her converted loft looked out over the valley and I spent plenty of time darting my eyes over various birds and animals looking for food in the grasses and a farmer on the hill separated the newborn lambs. The area is fantastic for walks steeped in whisky smuggling history and visiting the numerous distilleries. It’s quiet country living with log fires burning and a relaxed way of living and on our first morning the ground was blanketed in a thin layer of snow. 

Nearby is Glenlivet Estate which most would instantly think of being a whisky house, yet this an area of forest with the introduction of mountain biking trails. This was my reason for visiting the area. The café provides bike hire but unfortunately opens mid-morning and on our planned day was already booked out. I was a little disheartened but we made our way to Grantown-on-Spey, a larger town about 15miles north and found available bikes and the nearby Anagach Woods. With a mix of gradients, the trails had some good flowing sections whilst off-piste there were more challenging downhill tracks. The bikes we had, rolled ever so smoothly over tree roots and boulders. Sarah is definitely getting her confidence up and smashing out some knarly sections which I generally look back and cringe whilst wondering if she’ll make it through without stacking it. 

You could easily spend weeks in this area as there is so much activity available. If anyone plans on going, make sure you let me know!.


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