Walk: Speyside Way (Balvenie Distillery to Aberlour)
Date: Sunday 20th December 2015
Company: Myself and Becky
Distance: 11km, Ascent: 170m
Time: 2Hrs 45Mins

Fifty-one Moray Mountaineering Club members and guests attended the Club's annual Christmas Bus Meet yesterday to undertake a variety of traverses from Dufftown to Aberlour. The main objective for most attending was going to be a traverse from Glen Rinnes to Aberlour via Ben Rinnes. This plan was however scuppered as our coach, hired from Maynes Coaches, had a flat battery which resulted in pick ups from Inverness, Nairn, Forres and Elgin all being 50 minutes late. As our meal was booked for 15:00, members undertook instead: i) a traverse of the Convals, ii) a traverse from Balvenie to Aberlour via the Knock of Gownie, iii) a low-level traverse from Glen Rinnes through to Aberlour or iv) a walk from Balvenie to Aberlour via a spur of the Speyside Way.

Myself and Becky opted to join about ten other members walking from Balvenie to Aberlour via a spur of the Speyside Way.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the outset we set off at a good pace, apparently to maximise time available for refreshments. Well done to Becky who kept up with those thirsty for alcohol .

Approaching Balvenie:

The walk along the old railway line was pleasant but did not provide fantastic views as railway lines, and old railway lines, are often enclosed with banks either side of the track.

Becky on the old railway line:

A wee rest above the River Fiddich:

Walking the old railway line:

On reaching a bridge over the River Fiddich, we caught up with Brent, Derrick and Ken who were standing on the bridge admiring a large salmon in the Fiddich below.

A large salmon in the River Fiddich:

On the track near the Braes of Gauldwell:

A short distance before Craigellachie:

I was really looking forward to visiting the Fiddichside Inn, as I have passed the place countless times but not previously ventured in. Unfortunately, it was not open.

The Fiddichside Inn:

On reaching Craigellachie, Becky and I took a short 0.5 mile diversion to see Craigellachie Bridge. This bridge was designed by Thomas Telford and built between 1812 and 1814. The bridge is still open to pedestrians and cyclists but is no longer open to motorised vehicles. It is a lovely bridge, definitely worth the short diversion.

A short diversion to see Craigellachie (Telford) Bridge:

Ironwork for the bridge was cast at the Plas Kynaston iron foundry at Cefn Mawr, near Ruabon in Denbighshire.

Craigellachie Bridge from above:

From Craigellachie bridge, we returned to the Speyside Way track but visited the Highlander Inn for refreshments before continuing onto Aberlour.

Highlander Inn, Craigellachie:

The Guinness was good .

Much-needed refreshments inside Highlander Inn:

From Craigellachie, we continued the remaining two miles along the Speyside Way to Aberlour.

On reaching Aberlour, we met up with numerous other members in the excellent Mash Tun pub. After sampling more Guinness in the Mash Tun, we made our way to the Aberlour Hotel for our Christmas Meal. The meal was excellent. Thanks to John for organising.

Christmas Meal at the Aberlour Hotel:

Having stood down as Club President earlier this year, it was nice to just sit back, relax and let the committee and new President do all the work .

A big well done to Rachel who completed her first round of the Munros this year. Also well done to Graeme and Penny (the Wonder Dog) who completed their 4th (and 2nd) round of Munros and to John who completed a round of the Donalds.

Rachel awarded a quaich from the Club for completing the Munros in 2015:

Each year "the Golden Boot" is awarded to a member for an act, or acts, of daftness during the past year. This year Fiona took the prize for a numbers of reasons, including getting her new GPS out on the hill only to find she had not inserted batteries!

Fiona awarded the boot for mountaineering daftness in 2015:

A new prize was also awarded for the first time, for a significant mountaineering achivement during the past year.

A number of members were in the running for the award. Nominees were i) Robert who had went to the Himalayas to attempt to summit Everest and who was at Base Camp when the avalanche struck unfortunately stopping any summit attempt, ii) Sheena, Rachel & Katie who went to the Alps summiting Gran Paradiso (unguided), iii) Myself and John for both completing 1000 Marilyns, iv) Rachel for completing the Tranter Round and raising c.£2,000 for Mountain Rescue in the process and v) Graeme and Penny (the Wonder Dog) for completing a 100-day round of the Munros despite much awful weather.

The prize rightly went to Graeme (not forgetting PennyTWD) for the outstanding achievement of completing a round of Munros in 100 days. A big well done to Graeme and Penny.

President Joe awarding Graeme the Axe Award for significant mountain achievement in 2015:

Graeme and Penny together with the Axe Award:

A very successful meet, now looking forward to the New Year meet which is always a great mix of hills, food, refreshments and party games .