After a heavy session of hiking the day before, our eyes and limbs were reluctant to recognise the morning light coming through our window. This unwillingness was further exacerbated when we remembered that today was the most difficult section of the Speyside Way: 13 miles of hillwalking in the searing heat. However the rumbling sounds of trucks from the Cragganmore distillery next door soon alerted us to rise and shine.
The next section of The Speyside Way, from Craigellachie to Ballindalloch, is a long, straight stretch of 12 miles that follows the old railway route. In fact, throughout most of it, the old station platforms, railway arches and even remnants of discarded railway machinery remained, yet to be claimed by nature.
Just like the Speyside region, whisky is a pretty big deal in our household. We hold regular whisky nights, it’s become the de facto gift people give us for holidays, and our table has become so overrun with whisky bottles that one of my writing desks drawers has become a mini whisky cabinet. So the opportunity to see how one of our favourite drinks is made, and explore it in the gorgeous landscape of Scotland no less, gave us the impetus to rise early and make our first stop of the day: the Macallan Distillery.
On the third section of The Speyside Way, we awoke early like little kids at Christmas, eager to start on the trail. It wasn’t so much the joy of hiking that gave us this skip in our step, as the promise of whisky in Craigellachie. Out of all the whisky distilleries in Scotland, more than half are situated in Speyside, and in particular, where we were staying.
The second day of the Speyside Way trail weaves along pebbly beaches, through woodland and pauses in the heritage town of Fochabers. Expect unspoilt nature, Scottish castles and hearty helpings of cake and whisky.