After seeing the Cairngorms peeking at us from the horizon the day before, we were eager to reach the end of The Speyside Way and begin on our next adventure: exploring the Cairngorm National Park. And so, the early morning light found us briskly walking through the residential part of Boat of Garten and towards Aviemore, the last stop of the trail.
Our intention was to briskly walk through the last 5-6 miles, but when the scenery is as breathtaking as this, our pace slowed to a crawl, and our heads swivelled in every direction to absorb the mountains, blooming gorse, pine scent and fresh breeze.
Just when we thought we had reached the end of the trail and seen all there was to see, The Speyside Way had one last surprise for us….
A stone circle and cairn! It was somewhat bizarrely located behind the back of a fire station and there was little information on the particularly history of this circle, but nonetheless, it is easy to see why the people in the Megalithic age chose to place it in Aviemore.
Despite our slow progress, we made it to Aviemore train station, where the trail ended.
Having reached the end of the trail, I had bittersweet emotions about the experience. On one hand, I was excited for what lay in store in Aviemore, particularly hiking around the Cairngorms, Loch an Eileen and Glenmore Forest. But far greater was my feeling of accomplishment for finishing the longest trail I had undertaken to date, and sadness that it was over. The Speyside Way offers a glimpse of Scotland that few people get the opportunity to see, and with large stretches of the path to yourself, it is easy to feel like you are embarking on an adventure. Along the trail we met so many warm-hearted and friendly people, were able to experience its history and culture in a unique way, and enjoyed ourselves so much we are already planning another hiking trip to Scotland next year.
In short, if you want to experience a unique and authentic side of Scotland, then go hike The Speyside Way – you won’t regret it!
When thinking of a way to celebrate/commiserate the end of our trip, we decided there was no reason to break with tradition, and so we went on a tour of the Cairngorm brewery – try 1/3 pint of over 12 different kinds of craft beers and let Bruce the tour guide regale you with stories of his time in the military and as an extra in films! Cheers!