As fall begins to set in I keep flashing back to my summer trip, hiking in Scotland. Adam and I spent a wonderful two weeks eating haggis, hill walking, and sipping single malt in the verdant land of whisky, sheep, and rain. Our time in Scotland was short, so we chose two week long trails on which to spend our trip. First, we took a bus from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye in northwestern Scotland to spend a week on the Skye Trail. It was a wet and beautiful 80 mile trek north to south across the island. Check out my Scottish Oboz Trail Tale for a story from our smooshy walk across the Isle of Skye.
We knew the Skye Trail would be the more challenging of the two hikes, but it took the onset of the first storm for us to realize what we had gotten ourselves into. After our feet got soaked on day one, they never dried out-for the whole vacation!
We found ourselves stumbling through boggy sheep dotted hillsides with no trail to follow. Navigating through the stormy, treeless landscape was an enjoyable, but exhausting challenge. Hill walking was hard, but it wasn’t a complete suffer fest, read the Oboz Trail Tale to see how we found joy.
After a blustery end to the Skye Trail we fled the windy west coast for the more sheltered east and the Speyside Way. We found warm pubs, delicious whisky, and pastoral paths winding along 80 miles of the River Spey, from the ocean to the high peaks of the Caringorms.
The Speyside Way is one of many official Scottish paths. We chose it because of the length and the lore of the region. Accessing the coastal town of Buckie, the eastern terminus of the trail, was simple by bus, as was bussing from Aviemore (the western terminus) back to Edinburgh. The Speyside Way is set up so hikers can be in towns each evening, and even stay in hotels if they want to. We met a handful of hill walkers who had their luggage shuttled each day, and some who even had their dinner reservations and distillery tours pre-arranged. We camped, carried our packs, and were pleasantly surprised to find people welcomed us despite our trail raggedness. As with many of the official routes in Scotland, the Speyside Way can fit your comfort desires, you don’t have to wild camp like Adam and I did.
The Speyside Way passes through the heart of the Speyside Whisky region, and we stopped in to a few whisky bars, a cooperage, and some distilleries along our hike. Not only did we get to soak in the stunning scenery alongside the River Spey, we learned how whisky is made, and best of all, what it tastes like.
Summer has faded, but our summer vacation remains fresh in my mind, and the land of whisky, wool, and rain has found a fond spot in my heart. Slainte! Cheers! Until next time lovely Scotland!