The Spey rises in the Cairngorms and then wends its way to the sea on the Moray Coast. An area of great natural beauty whose waters make it a prized home to some of the world's great whisky distilleries and malts.
The River Spey is Scotland's second longest river, rising in the hills above Loch Laggan and making its way northeast to where it debouches at Spey Bay, on the Moray coast. Speyside is one of Scotland's loveliest valleys and is synonymous with two of Scotland's greatest products, salmon and whisky. The upper part, Strathspey, is equally famous for its hiking, skiing and watersports. It is covered in the Highlands chapter. This section covers the lower part of the valley and comprises the famous Malt Whisky Trail. There are more malt whisky distilleries in this small area than in any other part of the country, including some famous brands such as Glenlivet and Glenfiddich. However, it's not all whisky in these parts: there's also some fine walking along the 45-mile Speyside Way, which runs from Spey Bay south to Tomintoul.
Getting Around Speyside
Bluebird Buses, Tel. 01224-212266, run a daily service from Elgin (No 336). There's also a service (Nos 360 & 361) which connects Dufftown with Keith and Aberlour (Mon-Fri). For details call W W Smith, Tel. 01542-882113.
Dufftown's Tourist Information Centre is inside the Clock Tower in the centre of the main square, Tel. 820501. They have maps and information on the whisky trail. Open Apr-8 Jul Mon-Sat 1000-1300, 1400-1700; 9 Jul-19 Aug Mon-Sat 1000-1800, Sun 1300-1800; 20 Aug-27 Oct Mon-Sat 1000-1300, 1400-1700.
Things to see in Speyside
Places Of Interest
Just outside of town, on the A941 to Craigellachie, is the Glenfiddich Distillery, the town's most famous distillery and one of the best known of all malt whiskies. Behind the distillery are the 13th-century ruins ofBalvenie Castle, built by Alexander 'Black' Comyn, then added to in the 15th and 16th centuries, and visited by Mary, Queen of Scots in 1562. Apr-Sep Sat-Wed 0930-1630 (closed Thu and Fri), £3, concession £2.30, children £1.30. Tel. 820121 (HS). Four miles north of Dufftown, at the junction of the A941 and A95, is the little village of Craigellachie, site of the Speyside Cooperage and where you can see Thomas Telford's beautiful bridge over the River Spey.
Speyside is not just famous for its whisky. The River Spey is synonymous with salmon fishing and the the popular walking trail of Speyside Way, which follows much of the spectacular sights along the old railway. The nearby village of Aberlour is the home of Walkers Shortbread, Tel. 01340-871555. About eight miles southwest of Craigiellachie, on the A95 to Grantown-on- Spey, is beautiful Ballindalloch Castle, a mile west of the village of Marypark. The castle is one of the loveliest in the northeast and has been lived in continuously by its original family, the Macpherson-Grants, since 1546. It houses a fine collection of Spanish paintings and the extensive grounds are home to the famous Aberdeen-Angus herd of cattle, bred here since 1860. Easter-end Sep Sun-Fri 1000-1700, £7 entry, concessions £6, children 3.50, Tel. 01807-500205.
Also in Ballindalloch is the Glenfarclas Distillery. Tours Apr-Sep Mon-Fri 1000-1700; Jul-Sep Mon-Sat 1000-1600; Oct-Mar Mon-Fri 1000-1600, £3.50, children free, Tel. 01807-500257.It offers worthwhile experience. www.glenfarclas.co.uk
A restored old train powered by a diesel engine runs from Dufftown to Drummuir (5 miles) and on to Keith (10 miles) on Saturday and Sunday, Tel. 821181, at 1330 and 1500.
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, held every year during the first long weekend in May offers a perfect excuse for you to make a visit to Speyside before the start of the main tourism season. The Festival is an occasion to celebrate Scotland’s national drink through a range of interesting and fun filled whisky-inspired events.