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Scenic Grantown walk offers wildlife wonders

By John Davidson

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Meg Davidson, Peter and Rosemary Evans on the track alongside the River Spey.
Meg Davidson, Peter and Rosemary Evans on the track alongside the River Spey.


Anagach Wood and Speyside circuit

Distance – 7 miles

Terrain – Good tracks and forest paths, short tarmac sections

Maps – OS Explorer 419; Harvey Speyside Way

Start/finish – Car park opposite Grantown Museum, Burnfield Avenue, Grantown-on-Spey

A varied walk on mostly flat terrain taking in beautiful forests and a riverside trail

For the salmon we saw leaping out of the water heading back upstream to their spawning grounds, this was a relatively gentle part of their long journey.

Our journey was nice and gentle all the way, following clear paths and tracks through some delightful woodland before returning alongside the River Spey.

There were also a few surprises in store for us near the end of this lovely little walk, which begins in Grantown-on-Spey.

The car park can be found just off the main street on Burnfield Avenue by following the signs to Grantown Museum or Burnfield car and coach park. It doesn’t mention tractors, but that was the type of vehicle we parked next to! There are public toilets here too.

After getting the walking boots on, we headed off past the museum on a little footpath, crossing the road at the bottom and turning left to reach Golf Course Road, where you turn right. Continue across the golf course on the path – taking note of the skiing restrictions! – and come to a gate at the edge of Anagach Wood.

Bear left as you enter the woods and follow the Speyside Way thistle markers as you take in the wonderful sights and smells of these mixed woodlands, dominated by pine. There are lots of tracks and trails but our route sticks to this long-distance path all the way along this part of the walk.

Some way through the forest is a sensitive area protected by law because this fantastic habitat supports the rare and elusive capercaillie.

We eventually reached a gate at the far end of Anagach Wood, and followed a track with lovely open views to the Cromdale Hills across the green fields.

Immediately after a plank bridge, leave the vehicle track and instead follow a path to the right through a metal gate. This excellent narrow path parallels a little burn that flows down to join the Spey just about where we will meet it.

It’s a little boggy in parts but on this dry day wasn’t too bad. At the end, keep alongside a fence until you reach the gate across the vehicle track, then double back on yourself by going around the outside of the gate and taking the track upstream of the Spey.

The village you see across the river is Cromdale, and the metal bridge behind you carries a minor road to the village. As we stopped along the way to take in these fine views, we heard a great splash and, fortunate to be looking in the right place at the right time, I saw a large salmon leap right out of the water as it made its own way upstream.

Young oak trees line the track now until it reaches the edge of a pine plantation at Craigroy Wood, where a fishing hut offered us a great spot to enjoy lunch with views of beautiful autumn colours across the Spey.

Refreshed and ready to go, we continued along the riverside track, now lined by evergreen trees with occasional gaps letting the light flood in. At one point, the track goes along an open area right on the water’s edge.

At the end of this open stretch, go up a rougher path which climbs away from the river to reach a rickety wooden gate near a house. Go through it and follow the faint path to reach a vehicle track and go through the gate across it.

Continue on this track until, at a point where it veers away to the right, go left onto a path that skirts excitedly down to the riverside again. As we approached the water, we spotted a couple of dippers, those fantastic little birds, hunting at the edge of the river.

Further on, we met a vehicle track after a boggy patch and kept left nearest the river. The next kilometre or so is a fine open track along the river until you reach the Caulfield Bridge on the old military road to Grantown.

At the bridge, go up the steps to meet the end of the quiet road. It’s worth detouring onto the bridge itself for the fantastic views down the Spey to the Cromdale Hills, but the route turns right to follow the road north.

Stick to the road as it bends left then, just after the end of the row of superb houses, turn right up a faint path then go right onto the good path you meet. This twists onto a glacial esker – a raised area created by silt from a river flowing underneath the ice – and follows it through the glorious pine woods.

A first for me was seeing a little crested tit feeding in a tree just beside the path. It seemed unconcerned about our proximity, so we stood and watched it for a while before carrying on.

Turn left at the next junction then go straight ahead to stay to the right of a small lochan. Ignore tracks off to your right and soon pass a large tree in the middle of the path – which used to be a hanging tree.

At a fork in the track, keep right to follow a good path which passes the curling ponds, goes round a "log" gate and, after passing the golf course, comes out at a forestry parking area. Go right here to follow the road then turn right again opposite the fire station to pass the school and reach the bottom of Burnfield Avenue. Turn left to return to the car park, where we were glad to get our boots off after a delightfully varied autumn walk.

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