The
Dava
Way

map of the Dava Way Trail from Forres to Grantown

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Improving the Dava Way

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On going work | Past works | The early days | In our dreams

What are we doing now

Volunteer works programme

The Dava Way Association organises regular monthly work parties for most of the year to maintain and improve the Dava Way. We usually head out on the 2nd Saturday of each month, focusing on grass cutting undergrowth management from late spring to early Autumn. When daylight hours allow, there are additional evening grass cutting work parties in the Summer months.

photo: Dava Way volunteers

Undergrowth clearance, drainage, surface improvements and signage are the main tasks. The most important of these is probably maintaining and improving the drainage, which is vital in protecting the path surface from flood damage and water logging. Happily, due to the sterling efforts of our volunteer’s over the years, we are finally progressing beyond emergency drainage repair works and we are now moving more towards preventative and improvement measures.

There are some sections of the Dava Way at the southern end that have not benefited from our volunteer efforts in the past due to other priorities, but we are now in a good position to focus more attention on these, which are in great need of surface improvements. This work is more challenging due to the distance from our volunteer base in Forres and the need to move the many tonnes of material required for infilling ruts and potholes, covering exposed roots, and replacing the mud.

e-mail dwfriends if you would like to join the Friends of the Dava Way volunteers in our endeavours to make this one of the best of ‘Scotland’s Great Trails’.

Past works

2014 - Paths for All

graphic: Paths for All logo

Paths for All is once again supporting the work of the group, having previously funded work that transformed a particularly wet and muddy section at Peathillock. Many sections of the route have a grass surface underfoot. Unless this is cut back then walking and cycling can become difficult. On this occassion they have funding the purchase of essential additional machinery which we hope will make it both easier and faster to cut back this vegetation both on and alongside the path. The volunteer work programme near Dava referred to below is part of this award.


graphic: COAT logo

2013/2014 - Cairngorm Outdoor Access Trust

Picture: Self closing gate at Dava South

2013 Gates across the path, however necessary, have long been an unwelcome aspect of the route particularly for cyclists. During 2013 several gates have been removed completely, most of the remaining gates have been upgraded, and all have been fitted with two way self closing fastenings.

2014 COAT will be improving the path north and south of Dunphail early in 2014. This is a well used section of path and we anticipate that all users will be pleased that the wet sections to the north and the wooded stretch around Dunphail station are to be rebuilt and given a dusted surface. This is the first time that major upgrade works are being carried out by a contractor (rather than our volunteers!).


Picture showing The Halfway Hut with solar panels installed to provide led lighting inside

The Halfway Hut

2012/2014 - Budge Trust

graphic: Budge Trust logo

In 2012 the Budge Trust along with match funding from Moray Leader provided the Dava Way with its biggest funding support so far. This project which will be completed in 2014 has seen new interpretation boards placed along the route highlighting natural history features as well as local and railway history. A former railway workers' hut (now known as 'The Halfway Hut') on the wildest section of the route between Dava and Dunphail has been refurbished as a cosy shelter which also accommodates railway and other memorabilia. Moments in history have been highlighted with wooden sculptures at Bogeney (2 miles south of the Divie viaduct) and on the southern edge of Dava Moor. All of the information on the new boards and much more has been published as 'The Dava Way Companion', a must have for anyone interested in the social history of the area along the route.

Picture: Finger post at Dava

Installing a new finger post at Dava

2010 - Installing finger posts along the route

graphic: Leader Plus logo graphic: Walkers logo

2010 was the year the Moray Way was created. This is a circular route around Moray making use of the Moray Coast Path, Speyside Way and Dava Way. This project, funded by Walkers of Aberlour and Moray Leader, involved installing finger posts at all key junctions along the Dava Way. The professionally manufactured finger posts were installed by Dava Way volunteers over a series of weekends.


Picture: Picnic tables at Dunphail Breathing Place

Picnic Tables

2008/2010 - The old Dunphail railway sidings

The big project for 2008/2010 was forming the Breathing Place at Dunphail. After months of planning and negotiation work finally started late December 2008. The works included building a new access causeway from Edinkillie Hall, new paths, a pond, planting over 250 new trees, more than 300 hedgerow plants, at least 400 daffodils, installing 17 bird boxes spread through the site and nearby woods, forming a new picnic area with two picnic tables and designing and installing a new information board. A shelter and hide has also being built nearby one of the picnic tables. This is proving to be a popular spot to start or finish sections of the Dava Way or for enjoying a circular walk through the nearby woods.


Dava bypass, 21th June, 2008 - Bridge replacement, signage

It was April 2005 when the first working party created a route through Dava by installing 2 bridges, putting a gate in the southern fence leading onto Dava Moor and installing way markers. This was one of several locations where work was essential in order to open the route. Since then Seafield Estate have upgraded the moorland boundary fence and replaced our makeshift wooden gate with a smart new galvanised gate - a big thank you for that. Reports from users had alerted us to the fact that the way marking needed improving and that the bridge over the ditch from the track had become rickety. We also had an information board to put up.
Thus it was that the tranquility of this lovely spot was temporarily broken by numerous cars and trailer loads of pipe, ballast and tools. A work gang of 8 set about demolishing the bridge and replacing it with a causeway (a solid job designed to last 100years). A sign post was erected by the track, and additional way marking and direction arrows added at key points. To ensure that visitors know both where they are and which way to go an information board was also erected.
A big thank you to the workers who keep turning up to do this work - and a big thank you to you for the feedback. Keep it coming please.

Photo album

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Newtyle Forest, 19th April, 2008 - Muddy Puddles 2

The theme of drainage, mud, drainage, cutting back vegetation and drainage does get a bit repetitive but that is the reality of trying to make a route fit for purpose. The section through Newtyle Forest is well used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders and this sort of traffic needs a good surface. The work last year (see Muddy puddles, Newtyle February 3rd, 2007) tackled the two main wet sections. One section was drained and resurfaced with total success, remaining dry during the wettest winter for years - the other less so and was reverting to a muddy mess. The usual suspects oiled their wheelbarrow and sharpened their spades and set to moving another ton of ballast and half ton of surface dressing to form a renewed raised surface through this section. With deepened drainage channels to take away the durface water to a hopeful that this is now sorted

Photo album

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Manachie Farm Bridge, 1st March, 2008

Well before there were plans to open up the old railway line as a footpath there was a great big patch of mud and clarts under the bridge for the Manachie Farm track where water collects. When the path was surfaced in 2006, this was sorted with a new drain installed connecting to the old Victorian drains. It was a bit of a blow when, a few weeks ago, we noticed the water was returning. So, once again, it was out with the spades. After various exploratory digs the prefered option was to dig a run-off canal into the trees. It seems to have worked - after flowing like a river all the day, hey presto - the water has all drained away. There are umpteen jobs like this along the route still to do - if you like the countryside and a bit of healthy exercise why not join a working party. New volunteers and helpers are always welcome, contact our volunteer co-ordinator.

Photo album

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Bantrach cutting, 9th February, 2008

Our mission was to install a new information board and to explore the water that flows along the track through the cutting. The side drainage is overgrown and the water flows constantly along the track. It's not muddy but we thought it was worth checking out. It the event we managed to dry out the track for a good 200 yards, about half the length of the cutting. There's always next year to finish the job!

Photo album

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Squirrelneuk Bridge culvert, 19th January, 2008

This is the point about 4 miles south of Forres where you drop down from the Newtyle Forest to rejoin the railway line. There is a permanent flow of water from the surrounding tracks which crosses the track here meaning that this spot was always wet and muddy even in summer. The only 'fix' was to lay a drain underneath the track to carry the water away. With Peter quality controlling all the work, collecting ditches were dug and a drain laid deep under the path. As we worked there was a constant flow of cyclists and occasional walkers passing by taking advantage of the fine, cold winters day. When we left all water was flowing freely under the track. Within a few days the surface waters will have seeped away leaving this spot dry at last.

Photo album

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Track works, Dunphail cutting, December 2007

leader+ logoAt the start of December we succeeded in gaining some funding from the MAC Leader scheme to carry out the track surface and drainage work at Dunphail. We needed to provide 50% of the money for this project from our own funds, which in practice meant using the proceeds from almost all our fund raising over the past 5 years. The project had to be completed by the end of the year. Do you remember the rain and frosts we had in December? Despite the far from ideal conditions the work was completed on time - thanks to our contractor and Jim, our Chairman and project manager.

Photo album

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The Early Days

Work so far to change the overgrown and, in places, broken route of the old Highland Railway into a clear route accessible by walkers, cyclists and horse riders has been achieved by a mix of grant funded contract labour and volunteer labour. Without the volunteer workwork, working alone and in collaboration with contractors, the route would simply have never been opened. At the start of 2007 we started to build a photo record of this work.


Dava Way photo album archive

2007 photo albums

Picture: Gorse clearance by Rafford

January: Clearing gorse by Rafford

Picture: Muddy puddles, Newtyle Forest

February: Draining puddles, Newtyle Forest

Picture: Fallen trees, Huntly's Cave cutting

February: CNPA grant, clearing trees and drainage work, Huntly's Cave cutting

Picture: Clearing ditches, Braemoray cutting

March: Clearing ditches, Braemoray cutting

Picture: Clearing broom, Dava Moor

March: Clearing broom,
Dava Moor

Picture: Draining the cutting at Dunphail

September: Draining the
cutting at Dunphail

In our dreams

We would like the Dava Way route between Forres and Grantown-on-Spey to be a pleasant walk and trail bike trail with a good firm surface along the entire route. Additional car parking facilities are needed along the route for the many who only want to explore a short section. Circular routes, making use of the old railway line and car parking facilities would be ideal. We have many ideas and plans - do you? Tell us where to go! How? Support us