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Get off the beaten track on Speyside

By Paul Breen

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Dave Newland's Glenlivet Wildlife tours offer some wonderful sights without tiring the legs.
Dave Newland's Glenlivet Wildlife tours offer some wonderful sights without tiring the legs.

Dave Newland's Glenlivet Wildlife tours offer some wonderful sights without tiring the legs.

APART from whisky, the one thing that Speyside has in abundance is spactacular scenery and an increasing network of walks for outdoor enthusiasts.

Offering outdoor pursuits is another major way the Spirit of Speyside Festival can attract a wider range of visitors to the area, making use of its natural resource.

There are now a wide range of walks of varying lengths and grades in the beautiful Glenlivet Estate, which is owned by the Crown Estate and was one of the pioneers of public access.

But another way to get into heart of the country which will save the leg muscles and get you offroad to places your family car wouldn’t dare is on a guided Landrover tour.

In glorious weather, Dave Newland of Glenlivet Wildlife took us on a four-hour Whisky and Wildlife Landrover Tour through Glenlivet Estate, which is situated on the north eastern side of the Cairngorms National Park.

His knowledge of the nature and history of the area and his easy-going manner made him an ideal host for the afternoon as we drove along the estate tracks.

The route took us into the remote glen of the Braes of Glenlivet where there were reputed to have been over 200 illegal stills during the height of the whisky smuggling era before legal distilleries began to be built in the area.

As Dave pointed out landmarks and the three major whisky roads which enabled the smugglers to transport their wares to the growing cities of the south and east, he was constantly alert for wildlife in the area which he eargerly pointed out.

On that particular day, it was pretty early in the year for a big show of wildlife which is in abundance later but a large herd of deer encountered and watched through a high-powered telescope more than made up for the lack of other activity.

The route took us along the feeder burns and also the sparkling Glenlivet river – and Dave was a charming guide with his anecdotes and a couple of pit stops for coffee and a dram (well, you really have to when your in smugglers’ country).

The area is one which tends to be overlooked and in the shadow of other parts of the Highlands, but that may be a good thing as its very peaceful. The terrain is not too demanding and the views an absolute delight – and it’s a surprise the secret’s not really out.

This has whetted my appetite to get the walking boots on in Glenlivet – and its only 45 minutes from Inverness.

• Dave’s Glenlivet Wildlife offers a range of guided walking and Landrover tours for the festival and throughout the year. For details, contact 01807 590241 or visit www.glenlivet-wildlife.co.uk

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