The Dava Way (Ghost Train Walk)
Date: Saturday 20th June 2015 / Sunday 21st June 2015
Company: c.100 participants
Distance: 37.7km, Ascent: 375m
Time: 7Hrs 25Mins

The Dava Way is a path linking the towns of Forres and Grantown on Spey. The total distance is 38km (24 miles) of which 35km is in open countryside. Most of the route follows the old Highland Railway line. The Dava Way is one of Scotland's Great Trails.

I have been considering walking the Dava Way for some time. An ideal opportunity presented itself on reviewing the list of events organised as part of the Moray Walking Festival. The Moray Walking Festival is an annual series of walking events based in and around Moray. Biennially, the Moray Walking Festival includes an overnight midsummer traverse of the Dava Way; this is aptly named 'the Ghost Train walk'. The walk is organised and managed by the Dava Way Association.

Yesterday evening, I travelled to Forres and parked the car at Forres Academy. Registration for the event took place between 20:00 and 21:00 at Roysvale Park.

Registration at Roysvale Park, Forres:

Registration at Roysvale Park, Forres:

At 21:00, two coaches with approximately 100 Ghost Train walk participants, left Forres destined for Grantown on Spey. After a short debrief from the 'station master' we all set off walking at 22:00.

Ghost Walk participants assemble at The Square, Grantown on Spey:

Ghost Walk participants assemble at The Square, Grantown on Spey:

Ghost Walk participants assemble at The Square, Grantown on Spey:

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

The organisation by the Dava Way Association was outstanding; numerous volunteers ensured walkers followed the correct route. The route had excellent way-marking as well as various ghostly sights and sounds along the route. The association provided a drink stop at Dava and a breakfast stop at Dunphail.

We all set off walking together through the streets of Grantown on Spey.

Walk through Grantown on Spey:

Passing the Grantown on Spey caravan park:

On reaching the old dismantled railway line, the large group began to spread out as the power walkers took the lead. Some participants were wearing boots and were laden with rucksacks while other participants carried little more than a water bottle and torch. As ever, I had far too much in my rucksack and was wearing boots.

On the Dava Way track, North of Grantown on Spey:

On passing several houses we could see the occupants standing outside giving us all a wave. Thanks .

East Lodge (Lady Catherine's Halt):

There was plenty light during the first two hours of walking allowing us to proceed without headtorches.

Following the Dava Way:

Following the Dava Way:

Ben Rinnes (zoom):

Following the dismantled railway line towards Dava:

The skies were nice at dusk. The MetOffice had predicted rain between 22:00 and 23:00 and from 03:00 onwards. It remained dry throughout the walk .


Nice skies at dusk:

Nice skies at dusk:

The Dragoon's sculpture:

Lynnette and Lisa:

By the time I reached Dava, it was dark. I stopped long enough to have a quick drink and a biscuit before continuing on, as there were lots of midge some of which were providing some added protein to my drink.

Dark at Dava (drink stop):

The camera pretty-much stayed in its bag for the next couple of hours as it was too dark to take photographs without using long exposure and having a tripod.

The Dava Way route skirts round behind the Knock of Braemoray; a Sub2000ft Marilyn that I ascended in June 2010. As I progressed along the track I stopped briefly to look inside a brick hut and to look inside the Half Way Hut.

Brick hut:

The Half Way Hut is a lovely wee hut that is nicer inside than out. On checking Viewranger on my phone, I could see that the Half Way Hut was a bit short of actually being Half Way. I still had over half the route ahead.

Half Way Hut:

Inside the Half Way Hut:

Thus far I had been walking at a pace much faster than my usual pace. My legs and feet were starting to ache so I decided to slow down to my normal pace.

Dunphail was a very welcome sight. My friend Malcolm was serving up bacon rolls and sausage rolls. It was nice to sit down for ten minutes to have something to eat and a drink before continuing on along the final 8 miles to Forres.

Breakfast stop at Dunphail:

Breakfast stop at the Edinkillie Village Hall:

During the walk beyond Dunphail, I was accompanied by a bat. It flew around my head numerous times. Well done Dava Way Association for arranging the bat on this Ghost Walk .

Back on the Dava Way heading for Forres:

It was nice to chat with several other parties during the walk out to Forres. If the lady from Kinloss sees this report, I hope you do come along to a Moray Mountaineering Club meet. It is a good Club.

On the dismantled railway line South of Forres:

On the track leading to Dallas Dhu Distillery:

On reaching the Dallas Dhu Distillery, our names were ticked off the list and we were presented with a completion certificate. However, beyond Dallas Dhu we still had another 1.5km ahead to get back to the start.

Sanquhar Loch, Forres:

On reaching the car it was a relief to take off my boots. What a great way to spend midsummer .

A big thanks to the Dava Way Association for all the hard work put into organising this event and thanks too to all the other participants for their companionship along the route. Definitely worth attending the next one in 2017.