From Dava to Dunphail
Distance: 6½ miles (10½ km)
Finding the start and finish
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Starting at Dava
The Knock of Braemoray
There is no official parking place at Dava but there is space for one or two cars on the grass verge opposite a private track near the Highland boundary. A few yards up this track a causeway on your left crosses the drainage ditch. Here you will find an information board. Walkers should follow this track through the woods and across the hillside to join the line within a few hundred yards. You are likely to encounter geese and then free range hens as you pass through Dava, please keep any dogs on a lead. Cyclists are asked to follow the main road for around 400 yards and to follow a singposted track to join the line to the north of Dava. Through the trees you pass through a gate leaving Dava behind you. In front of you is the Knock of Braemoray, 456 metres (1496 feet) high.
The deserted dwelling at Bogeney
is halfway round the 'Knock'
There is no marked path to the summit of the ‘Knock’. If you wish to climb the Knock to enjoy the view you are welcome to do so and are asked to go up from eastern side, leaving the line about a mile further on. As you curve to the right leaving the road enjoy the wild landscape around you. In poor weather it is easy to imagine why the railway workmen built themselves a shelter from sleepers. The line soon drops into the shelter of a burn hugging the sheltered leeside of the Knock. There are clear views to Caithness on the far side of the Moray Firth. The conical hill is Morven, near Helmsdale 50 miles (80 km) away. The deserted cottage at Bogeney on the left marks the halfway point to the Divie viaduct.
An aerial view of the
As you continue on towards Bantrach Wood about 2 miles ahead notice how the landscape is changing from heath-land to farmland and pasture. The gradient along this section of the track is 1 in 70 and this makes it the steepest section between Forres and Perth. Be glad you are walking downhill! A gate takes you into Bantrack Wood. On the far side of this short wooded cutting (about ¼ mile from the gate) you reach a cross raods with an obvious short track off to the right which leads down to join the Bantrach road. Here you will find another information board. This can be a convenient pick up point. Ahead the embankment now builds rapidly as you approach the wonderful Divie viaduct. This seven arch viaduct is 477 feet (145 metres) long and stands 170 feet (52 metres) above the River Divie.
River Divie from the
Pause here a while and enjoy the wonderful views to either side. In the centre there is a commemorative stone marking the building of the railway line. Built between 1861-1863 this testiment to Victorian engineering cost £10,231 to build. Beyond the viaduct the line enters the Braemoray cutting. Like many cuttings along the route this is a damp place. Water permanently seeps from the fields above and for many years this cutting was flooded ankle deep or more. It is still a lush wet habitat. In winter it will be muddy in places; in summer the surface underfoot is now mostly dry and firm. We hope to preserve the profusion of orchids and other flora and fauna found here. Draining this cutting will remain a work in progress for many years.
Edenkillie Manse and Kirk
from the Divie viaduct
Beyond the cutting the track is lined with Silver Birch. The old Dunphail station and platform ahead of you is now private property and the path follows a short diversion through the Birch woods alongside the line. You rejoin the line at the old sidings for the station near where the Half Davoch road crosses over the line. In 2009, with support from a Big Lottery Breathing Places grant, we planted new trees and hedgerow bushes here, formed a new pond, a picnic area, new paths and also a parking area linked to the nearby Edinkillie Community Hall. Why not rest here a while before joining your transport for the trip home.
The Braemoray cutting provides the perfect
habitat for orchids and other
wetland fauna and flora
If you wish to continue on towards Forres continue along the track and pass under the road bridge ahead. This section through the cutting was drained and surfaced in Autumn 2007 having being flooded for many years. The wet ground was very difficult to work in and the visual impact was greater than we had hoped. Nature is gradually softening the effects of this work.