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Spey to Spey
Fri, 17 September 2021 @ 10:00 - 13:00
A varied and interesting walk that matches sweeping coastal perspectives and crashing pebble beaches with rural farmland, a racing river, and reedy backwaters.
Join Elaine Crowe, enthusiastic walker, for this coastal walk with a difference! The River Spey reaches the end of its epic journey at Spey Bay, where it flows into the Moray Firth. The estuary is flanked by the village of Kingston on one side and a scattering of houses, and the charming village of Garmouth, along with the excellent Scottish Dolphin Centre, at Spey Bay on the other (each with its own individual histories). This walk uses quiet roads and woodland paths to link all three in a wonderfully elemental spot for viewing marine wildlife.
Spey Bay is a unique coastal nature reserve with the largest shingle beach in Scotland – an ever-changing landscape created by the often violent coming together of river and sea. The Spey is unusual in that it actually picks up speed as it reaches the sea, dragging with it vast quantities of shingle. Thus, the fast-flowing river creates constantly changing habitats, from huge banks of shingle to windblown coastal grasslands, reed beds and saltmarsh, and wet woodland, with a corresponding range of flora and fauna. Depending on the season, you may find large numbers of wildfowl offshore, nesting terns at the river mouth, osprey and an abundance of wildflowers and butterflies. In summer, ospreys frequently fish here, and bottlenose dolphins can often be seen hunting salmon just offshore. This accounts for the presence of the Scottish Dolphin Centre, housed in historic salmon-fishing buildings dating back to the 18thC.
To make the route possible, we take the Moray Coastal Path from Kingston, the School Brae path giving us wonderful high views of farmland below and the river estuary, Spey Bay and coastline. A short detour will take us to some standing stones and the Garmouth Water Tower. On our route, we pass a plaque commemorating the annual “Maggie’s Fair”, first held in 1587, and another plaque marking the landing of King Charles II here in 1650 to launch his campaign to topple Cromwell’s Commonwealth. Nearby, tiny Kingston huddled at the sea-front was founded in 1784 by a Yorkshire family who set up shipyards and sawmills there, naming the place after Kingston-Upon-Hull.
On the outskirts of Garmouth, we cross the impressive Spey Viaduct. Opened in 1886, it once carried the Elgin to Buckie section of the Moray Coast Railway over the Spey. Today, it provides a nostalgic means of crossing the river as it travels the last few hundred metres to the sea. From here, we arrive at the Dolphin Centre with glorious views up and down the coast.
Thanks to Elaine, who is donating the profits of this event to the Moray Way Association