Just back from a gorgeous trek along the Speyside Way, one of the four official long distance routes in Scotland. The route of approximately 75 miles (120 kilometers) runs from Buckie on the Moray Firth coast in north east Scotland, south westwards to Kincraig, a village past Aviemore, on the edge of the Cairngorm Mountains, generally following the valley of the River Spey.
Our initial plan was to travel to Fort William, and walk the Great Glen, another long distance route, linking Fort William to Inverness. But due to a train strike on our planned day of departure and the prospect, according to the Met Office app, of ceaseless rain in Fort William, we decided to change plans and travel to the east coast instead.
It was Jim’s argument that persuaded me to choose for an alternative route, a route during which we, he pointed out, we would, in case of rain, not only be able to see, feel or hear all this water falling, but also have plenty of opportunities to smell and taste the goodness that all this water brings to Scotland.
And again the late Johan Cruyff proved right when stating: “Every disadvantage has its advantage.” Because what is better when missing out on a beautiful train trip from Glasgow to Fort William than going on a trip where all our senses were going to be equally spoiled, instead of just a few.
And it turned out to be just pure joy. Smelling the sea and hearing the seals bark while walking along a gorgeous coastline. Feeling the sweat on my back, while going up and down hills through nice smelling pine forests, full of deer, birds and rabbits. Walking along fields full of cows staring at you and herds of sheep bellowing at full volume to lure back a stray member of the flock. Enjoying the sound and light show during the night with lightning and a thunderstorm rolling through the valley. Feeling the sun, drops of rain and wind weather beating our faces. Smelling a campfire on a night of wild camping and hearing the foxes sniff at our tent, trying to steal our eggs.
And of course there were plenty of opportunities to enjoy the Scottish cuisine and pub culture. It was just pure pleasure, as a change of our one pot camping food, to indulge ourselves in tasting Cullen skink, a potato soup with onion and smoked haddock, game pie of locally caught game and locally purchased barbecued meat of locally grazing sheep and black Angus cows at the farms we passed on the way. Or try the various local brands of lager and ale on the tap while waiting for the rain to ease off. And of course last but not least, inspired by the numerous distilleries we passed on the way, taste a number of single malts and blends of whisky the Spey area is famous for.
All in all it proved to be truly a feast for all five senses. And I realise, if you really open up to all these sensations, you notice that the weather isn’t always so bad as we tend to think. And you can even relish those few moments of storm, just because it gives you a good excuse to visit distilleries and pubs or enjoy an easy night in the tent.
I can’t wait for my next Scottish adventure. Let me know if you have any recommendation.