Accommodation and transport
Unless you intend wild camping every night, you need to book accommodation well ahead of time. Speyside has a range of hostels, B&Bs and hotels, but many are fairly small and may be fully booked months in advance. Decide whether to make the bookings yourself, perhaps using sources listed on our Accommodation page. Alternatively, seek Support from one of the specialist companies that provide a booking package, often along with baggage transfer and other services.
Once you have decided your itinerary, you may need help to reach the start and return from the finish of the route. Visit our Travel & transport page for useful sources.
Navigation, maps and guidebooks
Food and drink
Whether walking or cycling, it’s important to think about hydration and food on your chosen itinerary. Some speyside villages have restricted choice in their food shops, which may be a section of a garage, and their cafés and pubs may have restricted opening hours. If you have specialist dietary needs, or need to eat often, consider carrying at least some supplies. Also research your intended overnight stops in advance for evening meal options. You will find useful information on two sites: VisitMoraySpeyside and VisitCairngorms.
All or part?
An important decision is whether you are planning to cover part of the route or all of it, and whether you plan to walk, run or cycle, or some combination. Not all parts of the route are suitable for riding a bike or horse. Unless you live locally, splitting the Way into several trips will involve a great deal of travel compared with a single expedition.
How long you need depends not only on how fast you walk but also whether you allow time to visit distilleries, wildlife centres and museums, and whether you include the Tomintoul spur: see below. Most people allow 6 to 8 days to complete the route.
Upstream or downstream?
You also need to decide whether to start at Buckie and follow the Way upstream (south-west) or whether to start at Newtonmore and head downstream (north-east). An advantage of upstream is that the longer sections fall later on in your trip, after you’ve got into your stride. Also you may find arrival in Newtonmore within sight of the Cairngorms a more fitting climax. The main advantage of heading downstream is that you are likely to have the wind behind you. The altitude difference is insignificant over the distance. A disadvantage is that it may be harder to return home from Buckie than from Aviemore or Newtonmore.
This route section leaves the main route at Ballindalloch and reaches Tomintoul, the highest village in the Highlands. It is a 16-mile walk over exposed high ground, and wintry conditions are possible at almost any time of year. It goes via Glen Livet and over the summit of Carn Daimh (570 m/1870 ft). Some people find this wilderness experience the highlight of their trip, others prefer to avoid the logistics of returning to Ballindalloch by taxi or bus. If you wanted to walk the spur in both directions you’d need two extra days.