Walking and cycling along the Dava Way
Linking Forres in Moray with Grantown-on-Spey in Highland
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What a recent visitor had to say about the Dava Way‘With my son Felix I walked the Dava Way in March 30/31 2016. Coming from the coastal path we went from Forres to Grantown and had a beautiful frozen morning with ice on our tent (almost half way). We deeply enjoyed the walk. We only had 7 days in Scotland. My first idea was to go the famous Speyside way. But now I am happy that we changed our mind and walked instead the Coastal Trail from Lossiemouth to Forres and then the Dava Way. Both routes were overwhelmingly beautiful. Thank you for your work that makes this possible.’ Edgar Rose, Ottersberg, Germany.
The Dava Way path links the historic towns of Forres and Grantown-on-Spey. The total distance from the centres is 24 miles (38km), of which 22 miles (35 km) are in open countryside. Almost all of the route follows the old Highland Railway line and is off road and safe from traffic. From the Moray Firth this unusually varied railway walk winds its way from sea level up to Dava summit at 1050 feet (320 metres) before descending into Strathspey. Along its length it passes through a pleasant mix of farmland, woodland and moorland. This variety makes the Dava Way path one of the best long distance walking paths or off road cycling routes in Scotland.
It provides an important link between the Speyside Way in the south and the Moray Firth Trail to the north. This beautiful part of North East Scotland has much to offer the visitor and is still relatively undiscovered by walkers and outdoor enthusiasts. On a clear day as you cross Dava moor you are rewarded with views to the north over the shire counties of Nairn, Inverness, Moray, Ross & Cromarty, and Sutherland whilst to the south the Cromdale Hills and the Cairngorm Mountains dominate the skyline.
Pine Martin spotted
enjoying the Dava
The route of the Dava Way will be included on forthcoming reprints of the OS Landranger maps 27 & 36. It is shown marked on the OS Explorer maps 419 & 423 which were reprinted in September 2007. Note, the route on the ground now follows the railway line from Cowgreens to Dunphail and not the minor road as marked on the new Explorer maps. (Sorry about this but the agreement to do this missed the printing deadline by a matter of weeks. Such is life!!) Our maps on the Maps pages clearly mark the correct route and these can be downloaded for printing from the Downloads page.
Keeping nature natural
The Dava Way route goes through some wonderful countryside and if you keep your eyes open there can be lots to see. This pine martin was spotted by a runner early May 2014 whilst out running near Lynmore, close enough to snap with a smart phone.
The path is managed and maintained entirely by volunteers. There is no system to clear or collect rubbish. Please help to keep the route clear of litter by clearing up after your picnics and taking any rubbish home with you. Thank you.
Walking the Dava Way
The surface is varied, mostly firm and good, but it can be wet and rough in places. All of it is fine for walking. At the last count there were 17 gates along the route, there are no stiles.
Fit walkers can complete the route in a day but most will want to break it into 2 or 3 stages as described on the Route Description pages. Both maps and descriptions of the route can be downloaded for printing from our Downloads page. There are numerous opportunities for circular walks but none are waymarked as yet.
Cycling the Dava Way
The Dava Way is a great off road cycling route. The surface is firm for most of the route but it is often rough and front suspension is definitely recommended. When cycling the route I allow about 4 hours plus time for a picnic, although it has been done in 2h 45min. This gives a pleasant day's cycling with time to enjoy the varying views that unfold around you. Keep your eyes open for wildlife, there is plenty for the observant. It does not pretend or want to be an extreme challenge, nor is it 'tarmac'. (If you are looking for mountain bike excitement you should go on to visit the Moray Monster Trails between Fochabers and Craigellachie. This is about 20 miles along the Moray coast to the East, on the slopes above the River Spey in Speyside.) Cycle hire (and mobile cycle repair) is available from bikespokes based in Forres and also Base Camp bikes based in Grantown.
The Moray Way
The Moray Way makes use of the Dava Way and parts of the Moray Coast Trail and Speyside Way to form a varied 95 mile circular route. The route takes the walker along the beautiful Moray Firth coast line with its sandy bays and rocky cliffs to Speybay, then inland along Strath Spey past world famous distillaries and food producers to Grantown, where the final stretch follows the old Highland Railway route over Dava Moor back to Forres and the coast. For those looking for a cycle holiday then the Dava Way can be cycled in its entirety on mountain bikes (rough and muddy in several places) and the Sustrans National Cycle Route 1 can be used from Forres to Speybay. Why not enjoy a week cycling and/or walking in Moray and discover the delights of this beautiful area? For more information about the Moray Way visit the Moray Way website. A map of the Moray Way giving route details has been published and can be obtained from Amazon for £5.00 (inc p&p).
Use the Dava Way trail for a walking or cycling holiday
The Dava Way trail is a great long distance path in its own right but its real strength lies in its links with other walks and cycle routes at either end, and also in the wealth of other outdoor activities available in the area. Grantown-on-Spey, at the southern end, is a link to the Speyside Way. Forres, at the northern end, links into the Moray Coast Trail.
Published guidebooks and maps
Published in 2013, the Dava Way Companion is now on sale in bookshops in Forres and Grantown at a price of £4.95 or direct from the publisher at £6 inc p&p. This 72 page booklet records some of the history, folklore and traditions along the route. Further information . . .
The Cicerone Press guide to the Speyside Way was published in 2010. This guide includes the Dava Way and also the part of section of the Moray Coast Trail used by the Moray Way. It is available for £12.95 from the Cicerone Press website
A Rucksack Readers guide to the Moray Coast Trail and Dava Way was also published in November 2010. It is available for £10.99 from the Rucksack Readers website. Rucksack Readers also have a guide to the Speyside and offer a Moray Way Guides and map for £22.99.
Paul Carpenter's guide was published in November 2011 and is available for £10.25 from Amazon. It describes both The Moray Way (including the Dava Way) and a second route, The Ben Macdui Trail. The Ben Macdui Trail is a 66 mile route from Burghead to Ben Macdui in the Cairngorms that follows roads and rough tracks. The guide includes photo's, maps, advice on the surface and where bikes can be used.
The Moray Way map was published in May 2010, and is available from local tourist offices and shops for £3.50. Also available from Amazon for £5.00 (inc p&p).
Websites providing descriptions of the Dava Way
The Walk Highlands website breaks the Dava Way into 3 easier stages with a separate description and map for each stage. This website features a wide mix of low and high level walks in most regions of Scotland.
Walks in Scotland is a website focussing on long distance routes in Scotland. It will shortly (April 2014) feature the Moray Way (see above) and provide a description of the Dava Way as part of that walk.
Dava Way leaflet
This is a double sided A4 colour leaflet giving a general description of the route, as available in Tourist offices, etc.
Scottish Outdoor Access Code
Enjoy Scotland's outdoors. Everyone has the right to be on most land and inland water for recreation, education and for going from place to place providing they act responsibly. These access rights and responsibilities are explained in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
Whether you're enjoying or managing the countryside, the main messages from the SOAC are:
- take responsibility for your own actions;
- respect the interests of other people;
- care for the environment.
This is a summary leaflet describing the Scottish Outdoor Access Code