Dava Way

The Dava Way is a 38-kilometre (24 mi) long-distance path that mostly follows the route of the former Highland Railway between Grantown and Forres. The railway line, built as a route between Inverness and Perth, opened in 1863 and closed in 1965. The route was reopened as a long distance path in 2005. It is listed as one of Scotland's Great Trails by Scottish Natural Heritage, and links directly to two further Great Trails: the Moray Coast Trail and the Speyside Way.[2] It is currently the shortest of the Great Trails,[1] but can be combined with sections of the Moray Coast Trail and Speyside Way to form a 153-kilometre (95 mi) circular route known as the Moray Way.[3] About 3,000 people use the path every year, of whom about 400 complete the entire route.[4]

Dava Way
The awesome Divie viaduct. - geograph.org.uk - 370166
The Divie Viaduct on the Dava Way.
Length38 km (24 mi)
LocationMoray & Highland, Scotland
DesignationScotland’s Great Trails
UseWalking and cycling.
Elevation gain/loss146 metres (479 ft) gain[1]
Highest point321 m (1,053 ft)
Hiking details
SeasonAll Year


Although in 1860 Inverness had a rail link to the south via Aberdeen, this was circuitous and involved a change between two railway stations in the town.[5] A more direct route south bypassing Aberdeen was planned leaving the Inverness to Aberdeen Line at Forres and heading south to Grantown and then via the Pass of Drumochter to Perth.[6] Work started in 1861, with the line between Forres and Aviemore opening on 3 August before the complete line opened on 9 September 1863.[7] The line was built and initially operated by Inverness & Perth Junction Railway, which became part of the Highland Railway in 1865.[8] The line north of Aviemore was bypassed by the current more direct route via the Nairn Viaduct in 1898.[9] In his 1963 report "The Reshaping of British Railways" Dr Beeching recommending closing the network's least used stations and lines,[10] which included the line between Aviemore and Forres and this subsequently closed in 1965.[11]

The Dava Way Association was formed in 1997 to create a walking and cycling path along the former railway. Negotiations and purchase of the former alignment were necessary before the clearing could start in 2003. The way was opened in 2005, although this at the time included a diversion along a minor road.[12]


The 38.25-kilometre (23.8 mi) long route from Grantown-on-Spey in the Cairngorms National Park to Forres in Moray mainly follows the old railway line. Starting from Grantown and heading north, the path crosses Dava Moor where it reaches its summit of 321 metres (1,052 ft).[13] Continuing to Dunphail, the River Divie is crossed by the old railway viaduct, used today as the symbol of the Dava Way.[14] Between Dunphail and Forres a new bridge was installed in 2004 to cross the Altyre Burn.[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Trails". Scotland's Great Trails. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Dava Way". Scotland's Great Trails. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  3. ^ "The Moray Way". Moray Council. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Scotland's networks of paths and trails: key research findings" (PDF). Scottish Natural Heritage. August 2018. p. 6. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  5. ^ Vallance 1991, pp. 33–34.
  6. ^ Vallance & Clinker 1971, pp. 17–18.
  7. ^ Vallance & Clinker 1971, pp. 18–20.
  8. ^ Vallance & Clinker 1971, pp. 22–23.
  9. ^ Vallance & Clinker 1971, pp. 38–39.
  10. ^ Beeching, Richard (1963). "The Reshaping of British Railways" (PDF). HMSO. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
    Beeching, Richard (1963). "The Reshaping of British Railways (maps)" (PDF). HMSO. map 9. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  11. ^ Vallance & Clinker 1971, p. 184.
  12. ^ "Dava Way Association". Dava Way Association. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Grantown on Spey to Dava". Dava Way. Walk Highlands. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  14. ^ "Dava to Dunphail". Dava Way. Walk Highlands. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  15. ^ "Dunphail to Forres". Dava Way. Walk Highlands. Retrieved 30 July 2013.


  • Vallance, H.A.; Clinker, C.R. (1971). The Highland Railway. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-330-02720-5.
  • Vallance, H. A. (27 June 1991). Great North of Scotland railway. The History of the Railways of the Scottish Highlands vol 3. David St John Thomas. ISBN 978-0-946537-60-0.

Further reading

  • Bardwell, Sandra (1 March 2011). Moray Coast Trail: With Dava Way and Moray Way. Rucksack Readers. ISBN 978-1-898481-40-9.
  • Castle, Alan (1 October 2010). The Speyside Way. Cicerone Press Limited. ISBN 978-1-85284-606-0. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  • Thomson, Norman; Pamment, Katie; Stirling, Helen (28 April 2013). A Dava Way Companion. The Moray Way Association. ISBN 978-0956534910.

External links

Deeside Way

The Deeside Way is a 66-kilometre (41 mi) rail trail that follows, in part, the bed of the former Deeside Railway. The trail leads along the north bank of the River Dee from Aberdeen to Ballater in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.


Forres (; Scottish Gaelic: Farrais) is a town and former royal burgh situated in the north of Scotland on the Moray coast, approximately 25 miles (40 km) east of Inverness and 12 miles (19 km) west of Elgin. Forres has been a winner of the Scotland in Bloom award on several occasions. There are many geographical and historical attractions nearby such as the River Findhorn, and there are many historical artifacts and monuments within the town itself.

Forres railway station

Forres railway station serves the town of Forres, Moray in Scotland. The station is managed by Abellio ScotRail and is on the Aberdeen to Inverness Line.

Although Forres is still serving passenger trains to the east and west, it was once possible to travel south on the railway to Perth via Dava on the Inverness and Perth Junction Railway, meeting with the GNSR (via Craigellachie) at Boat of Garten station. As of 2017, direct services to Perth and Dundee operate via Inverness and Aberdeen.

Highland Railway

The Highland Railway (HR) was one of the smaller British railways before the Railways Act 1921, operating north of Perth railway station in Scotland and serving the farthest north of Britain. Based in Inverness, the company was formed by merger in 1865, absorbing over 249 miles (401 km) of line. It continued to expand, reaching Wick and Thurso in the north and Kyle of Lochalsh in the west, eventually serving the counties of Caithness, Sutherland, Ross & Cromarty, Inverness, Perth, Nairn, Moray and Banff. Southward it connected with the Caledonian Railway at Stanley Junction, north of Perth, and eastward with the Great North of Scotland Railway at Boat of Garten, Elgin, Keith and Portessie.During the First World War the British Navy's base at Scapa Flow, in the Orkney Islands, was serviced from Scrabster Harbour near Thurso. The Highland Railway provided transport, including a daily Jellicoe Express passenger special, which ran between London and Thurso in about 22 hours. In 1923, the company passed on approximately 494 miles (795 km) of line as it became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. Although its shorter branches have closed, former Highland Railway lines remain open from Inverness to Wick and Thurso, Kyle of Lochalsh, Keith (as part of the Aberdeen to Inverness Line), as well as the direct main line south to Perth.

List of long-distance footpaths in the United Kingdom

There are hundreds of long-distance footpaths in the United Kingdom designated in publications from public authorities, guidebooks and OS maps. They are mainly used for hiking and walking, but some may also be used, in whole or in part, for mountain biking and horse riding. Most are in rural landscapes, in varying terrain, some passing through National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There is no formal definition of a long-distance path, though the British Long Distance Walkers Association defines one as a route "20 miles [32 km] or more in length and mainly off-road." They usually follow existing rights of way, often over private land, joined together and sometimes waymarked to make a named route. Generally, the surface is not specially prepared, with rough ground, uneven surfaces and stiles, which can cause accessibility issues for people with disabilities. Exceptions to this can be converted railways, canal towpaths and some popular fell walking routes where stone-pitching and slabs have been laid to prevent erosion. Many long-distance footpaths are arranged around a particular theme such as one specific range of hills or a historical or geographical connection.

Long-distance footpaths in Scotland

This page lists long-distance footpaths in Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage have defined such paths as meaning a route that is at least 32 kilometres (20 mi) long and primarily off-road, or on quieter roads and tracks. This definition is consistent with that of the British Long Distance Walkers Association.

Moray Coast Trail

The Moray Coastal Trail is a long distance path in north-east Scotland that along the coastline of the Moray council area. The route, which is 72 km long, runs between Forres and Cullen. It is designated as one of Scotland's Great Trails by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), and connects with two further Great Trails: the Speyside Way at Spey Bay, and the Dava Way at Forres. The Moray Coast Trail can be combined with sections of these two routes to form a 153 km circular route known as the Moray Way, and also forms part of the North Sea Trail. The trail is primarily intended for walkers, but many sections are also suitable for cycling and horseriding. An alternative route for cycling, the Moray Coast Ride, shares some sections of path with the Moray Coast Trail, and forms part of the National Cycle Network's Route 1. About 23,000 people use the path every year, of whom about 1,000 complete the entire route.SNH recommend that the trail be walked west to east (from Forres to Cullen), due to the direction of the prevailing winds. In this direction the following settlements are passed: Forres, Kinloss, Findhorn, Burghead, Hopeman, Lossiemouth, Spey Bay, Portgordon, Buckie, Findochty, Portknockie, Cullen. Places of note along the route are the Covesea Skerries Lighthouse and Bow Fiddle Rock.

Rafford railway station

Rafford railway station at Rafford was opened with the Inverness and Perth Junction Railway in 1863.

A full layout was provided (with a goods yard). The station was closed after only 2 years in operation.

Rail trail

A rail trail is the conversion of a disused railway track into a multi-use path, typically for walking, cycling and sometimes horse riding and snowmobiling. The characteristics of abandoned railways—flat, long, frequently running through historical areas—are appealing for various developments. The term sometimes also covers trails running alongside working railways; these are called "rails with trails". Some shared trails are segregated, with the segregation achieved with or without separation. Many rail trails are long-distance trails.

A rail trail may still include rails, such as light rail or streetcar. By virtue of their characteristic shape (long and flat), some shorter rail trails are known as greenways and linear parks.

Scotland's Great Trails

Scotland's Great Trails are long-distance "people-powered" trails in Scotland, analogous to the National Trails of England and Wales or the Grande Randonnée paths of France. The designated routes are primarily intended for walkers, but may have sections suitable for cyclists and horse-riders; one of the trails, the Great Glen Canoe Trail, is designed for canoeists and kayakers. The trails range in length from 40 to 340 km, and are intended to be tackled over several days, either as a combination of day trips or as an end-to-end expedition.In order to be classified as one of Scotland’s Great Trails, a route must fulfil certain criteria. Each of the routes must be at least 40 km in length, and clearly waymarked with a dedicated symbol. It is expected that visitor services will be present along the way, and that the route has an online presence to help visitors in planning their journey. Trails are required to run largely off-road, with less than 20% of the route being on tarmac. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is the custodian of the brand, maintaining the official list and providing some of the finance and publicity, but responsibility for creating and maintaining each route lies with the local authority(ies) through which a route passes. There are 29 routes, offering 3000 km of trails in total. Additionally, the northernmost 10 kilometres (6 mi) of the Pennine Way between the Anglo-Scottish border and Kirk Yetholm lie within Scotland, but are designated as one of the National Trails of England.

The route of each of the Great Trails is marked with coloured diamonds on Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25000) and Landranger (1:50000) maps; the SGT logo of a thistle within a hexagon is also used to highlight the routes at the 1:25000 scale.

Speyside Way

The Speyside Way (Doric: Strathspey Way; Scottish Gaelic: Slighe Shrath Spe) is a long-distance path that follows the River Spey through the scenery of Banffshire, Morayshire and Inverness-shire in Scotland. The route begins in Aviemore and ends at Buckpool harbour in Buckie, some 107 kilometres (66 mi) away. Some choose to walk the route from Buckie to Aviemore. There is a spur leading off the main route to Tomintoul bringing the total distance up to 130 kilometres (81 mi). In addition, there is a Dufftown loop option, and other less well-known routes (Badenoch Way, Dava Way, and Moray Coast Trail) can be worked in, all affecting the total distance walked. Sections of the route are open to cycling.The Way is clearly waymarked with a symbol showing a thistle in a hexagon. The route generally follows the valley of the River Spey, passing some of the distilleries that produce Speyside single malts. The final 5 miles (8 km) from Spey Bay to Buckie follow the coastline.

The route was established in 1981, and is managed by three authorities: Highland Council, Moray Council and the Cairngorms National Park Authority. It is listed as one of Scotland's Great Trails by Scottish Natural Heritage, and links directly to two further Great Trails: the Moray Coast Trail and the Dava Way. About 53,000 people use the path every year, of whom about 3,000 complete the entire route.

National Trails
(England and Wales)
Scotland's Great Trails
Long-distance path
(Northern Ireland)

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