I’m Jamie Gibbon, I’m 27 years old and have been working for Rohan for the past 18 months. Before this I spent 12 months traveling New Zealand, spending the majority of my time hiking. I returned back to Fife, having lived in the East coast for 25 years, and started work for Rohan in the historic coastal town of St Andrews. I have always had a passion for the outdoors, bagging Munros for the past 3 years, and taking every opportunity I have to travel. I have learnt how essential it is to have quality kit, especially with the harsh weather conditions Scotland can throw at you. Working for Rohan opened my eyes to specialized outdoor clothing. It confirmed to me that the right kit makes your outdoor experience so much more enjoyable.
Following my fantastic year working in St Andrews I decided that after spending most of my life in the East coast, I was ready for a change and was eager to explore the Highlands. I wanted to get nearer to the beautiful West Coast, home to some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland, so I took the opportunity of working for Rohan’s most Northern store, Inverness, and I’ve never looked back.
The Speyside Way is one of Scotland’s four long-distance footpaths. After completing the West Highland and Great Glen Way last year we became hooked on multi-day walks and the Speyside Way was our next challenge. We decided the most spectacular time of year would be autumn, because of the colourful leaves and crisp frosty days.
Aviemore to Nethy Bridge (10 miles):
We began the 66 mile walk at Aviemore. It was a pretty dreach day as we hopped off the train. We popped on our Rohan Pinnacle jackets and waterproof covers of our Straiviag rucksacks and away we went, unphased by the rain. A clear path lead us through the heather to Boat of Garten (it was lucky the trails were so easy to follow as my girlfriend managed to leave our map on the train!). We were able to pick up another map at the local shop and on we marched, past the old steam train parked at the Boat of Garten station. We followed its’ tracks all the way to Nethy Bridge. The sun appeared along the way and when we reached the Lazy Duck Hostel there was barely a cloud in the sky. This hostel was paradise: wood-burning stove, red squirrels nibbling nuts on our window sill, and most impressively views to the snow-dusted peaks of the Cairngorms.
Nethy Bridge to Cragganmore (21 miles):
We set off early the next day feeling fit and fresh after an easy first day. We walked through boggy farmland and forest, then hopped off the trail at Granton-on-Spey for a hot cuppa. We crossed several streams before reaching the tiny moody town of Cromdale. Our Elite over-trousers were thrown on at our lunch-stop and upwards and onwards we went to Cragganomore. This part of the walk was really exciting: over slippy rocks, between beautiful autumn trees, and through fields of nosy cows! We reached the beautiful Cragganmore house in the pitch dark and boy were we happy to be greeted by a roaring peat fire, free-standing slip bath and perfect 3-course meal. Who needs camping?!
Cragganmore to Craigellachie (12 miles):
After a full breakfast we set off following the old railway tracks through forests full of wild deer. This part of the trail stuck close to the fast-flowing river Spey. We passed some of the 183 distilleries in the Speyside area (and were tempted by a wee dram, but conscious it wasn’t even noon!). We sat and enjoyed our picnic on the river bank at Aberlour. It was a further two miles through the trees to the quiet town of Craigellachie. We headed straight to the old traditional Fiddichside Inn, owned by a local 85-year-old man who’s family had run the place since the 1800’s. He was full of tales and had a selection of over 40 local “wee drams” to taste. That place was the local hot spot and was truly a gem which shouldn’t be missed.
Craigellachie to Buckie (23 miles):
We woke up at the crack of dawn as we knew we had a big day ahead of us. And boy was it worth it. It was a freezing, dry, frosty morning and we set off wrapped up in our Rohan down Daybreak jackets. We walked through thick forests of colourful trees. The trail ascended up above the orange leaves and we could see out to the sea. From here we descended to gorgeous views of the river Spey wangling its’ way though the frosty fields. We reached the old town of Fochabers for a quick lunch by the river. The trail lead us from flat forest to open farmland as we continued to follow the river Spey to where it met the sea at Spey Bay. As we got closer to our destination the sun began to set and the sky blazed red. So clear we could look back to the distant hills of Easter Ross. Curious seals bobbed up and down as we skirted the shores to Buckie. What a bonnie end to our 66 mile adventure.
The Speyside Way Kit list :