If only more Monday mornings were like this. After enjoying a full day in the sun and in the saddle on Sunday, we set off from our campsite in Lossiemouth around 9am, and after only a few miles on the B road we were able to take quieter lanes to Hopeman .
Our team of five regrouped as we made our way through the pretty coastal village and quickly joined the Moray Coast Trail, a 50 mile drive between Forres and Cullen Bay, which took us to Burghead.
What a spectacular morning to be outside. As we drove along the smooth trail past beach huts and rocky coves, the sea was almost mirror calm. I watched a lone kayaker slowly explore this beautiful coastline as we did from the mainland.
Passing through a campsite in Burghead the road heads into Roseisle Forest on wide sandy tracks which make driving difficult in places but it was nice to be in the shade of the trees as the day transformed into another torrid one.
It was great fun as our leisurely approach to these two days of bikepacking meant we weren’t in a rush to cover the miles.
At one point the route passes directly through the main forest parking lot and continues to the edge of Kinloss airfield, where the path turns sharply to the right to follow the perimeter fence to the sandy coast.
We stopped here for a while, taking in the views over Burghead on this glorious morning. The route continued on a sandy path that meandered between tree roots as Findhorn got closer.
We were leaving the official trail in the dunes somewhere to follow a path back to the Findhorn Foundation, where we would spend a good few hours on our ‘early morning lunch’ which quickly turned into a ‘late lunch’!
It was in the heat of the day now, so after a great meal at the excellent Phoenix Café, there was time for more ice cream – as well as our first and only flat tire of the trip – before we finally recovered. on the move, follow the cycle path towards Kinloss then the national cycle path along the secondary roads to Forres.
Our return ticket to Grantown – where we had started our journey the day before – would take us along the Dava Way on the old Highland Railway route line.
We took a more direct route than I had used before to get from central Forres to the Dava Way, joining the road just before the Dallas Dhu Distillery. Finding a route would be easy from now on, but there was still a little bit of climbing to catch up with it and onto the moor.
The path rises 1052 feet (320 m) above sea level through woods and farmland to reach the moor. It was a great chance for all of us to discuss and enjoy this experience, this trip that brought us together for two fantastic days.
The picnic table and the inviting water of the Scurrypool Bridge next to the old train tracks tempted us to make another stop before we got too far along the Dava Way – and Sarah and Laura even immersed in the cold water of the Altyre Burn.
Following the train tracks for most of the way – except for a few waterlogged cuts and one or two stretches where the land has been used for private homes – means there is a lot of interest. to see as you pedal. This includes relics of railway history, such as bridges and old buildings, as well as the magnificent views that open up as the Cairngorms appear higher up.
At one point, the route crosses the magnificent Divie viaduct, where we passed a group of young people participating in the Polar Academy training program. This inspiring regimen takes teens with low self-esteem and helps them redefine their own boundaries.
The young people involved participate in a 10-month training program before embarking on an Arctic expedition and then returning to their communities where they help inspire more young adults. It’s a truly life changing experience and it’s great to see these young people pushing their limits and changing their perspectives.
At this time of year, there is also a plethora of plants to enjoy along the Dava route – at least for those of us who don’t suffer from hay fever. The path is lined with wild flowers and trees, providing welcome shade and an explosion of color.
The group of volunteers who run the Dava Way have done a great job adding more interest with aspects of the story added at various times. One of my favorites is Bogeney’s dog who is famous for running alongside the train while the conductor threw the pole down to take it back to the nearby farm.
A sculpture of the dog by the side of the trail tells the story and the now uninhabited farmhouse can be seen further along a track.
We continued under the Knock of Braemoray as Jim told us about his family ties to the area – just as we bumped into his cousin who was out on the moor doing fencing jobs!
The route briefly deviates to Dava, where the old station building is now a private house, before the final climb to the highest point of the railway line, marked with a sign “1052”.
Instead of following the last section of the Dava Way, Jim took us on a big detour along the estate trails past Castle Grant as we made our way to Grantown to end our amazing two day trip through Moray Speyside.
The Moray Way – Day 2
Distance 45 miles / 72 km
Ground Cycle paths, small roads, paths, old railway line
Beginning end Lossiemouth / Grantown
Map Landranger operating system 27, 28 and 36
Following last week’s bike trip from Grantown to Lossiemouth, riders continue along the Moray coast and onto the Dava
Bikepacking on the Moray Way – from Grantown to Lossiemouth via the Speyside Way and NCN