From Grantown-on-Spey to Dava
Distance: 8 miles (13 km)
Finding the start and finish
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Starting at Grantown-on-Spey
Join the railway line at Dulicht Bridge, a few hundred yards past the Caravan Club camping and caravan park and just ½ mile from the Square in Grantown-on-Spey. This is also the start of the local Viewpoint Walk – an easy circular walk offering views of the Cairngorm mountains – allow about 1½ hours if you choose to include this.
The Cromdale Hills which
Go through the opening and up the ramp to join the old railway line. The elevated track provides views over Grantown before entering a pleasant tree lined cutting with a good well used path underfoot. Crossing over a lane, you continue on an embankment past several crofts on your left. To your right are open views towards the Cromdale Hills. If you look carefully you can make out the top turrets of Castle Grant in the trees (near the centre of the photo to the left). The route crosses over the road at Castle Grant East Lodge.
Castle Grant East Lodge
incorporates a railway halt and a bridge
This impressive grade A listed building incorporates Lady Catherine’s Halt and was built to allow the lords and ladies from nearby Castle Grant to board and alight from the trains. About 100 yards beyond the bridge the recommended route leaves the line by a ramp to the left. This diversion avoids a waterlogged cutting ahead and other obstructions. Follow the rough path by the edge of the woods to a lane, turn left towards the main road, then right by the old gateway to follow a short very rough section of a few hundred yards that meanders by the road side until it joins a minor road. (Cyclists are advised to avoid this by using the main road for this short section turning right at the junction ahead by the telephone box.) Follow this quiet road for about ¼ mile. To the south you can see the Cairngorms with Braeriach to the right and Bynach More (Pyramid shape) to the left.
The climbing crag at
Turn left through a gate into the woods just before the road crosses over the line. You follow the track through the woods and soon rejoin the railway line as it leaves this wooded section and passes through the last of the farmland on its climb up to Dava Moor. On your right is the Allt an Fhithich burn, which falls from Dava Moor through a pleasant wooded gorge. A few hundred yards after re-entering the woodland ahead the line is crossed by a well worn path. Rock climbers use this path to visit Huntly’s Cave crag, which is about 250 yards down the path to the right. There are stories of various inhabitants of Castle Grant fleeing here in the 14th and 17th centuries to hide. It is worth a short detour for the views of the gorge and/or a picnic. Beyond Huntly’s Cave the line passes through a damp cutting. The trees here abouts have been much damaged in recent years by the heavy snows evidenced by fallen trees and snapped branches.
Flowering broom adorns the path
as you approach Dava Moor
Look out for the flat ‘meadow’ to the right where cattle herders rested their beasts before crossing the moor ahead. As you approach the end of the climb up from Grantown (which required trains to be pulled by two engines), you emerge onto Dava Moor. This can be both a beautiful and desolate place. The entry to the moor is a blaze of colour in early summer from the broom and groundcover plants. In maintaining a way through this we are keen to retain the splendid flora which has colonised the track. You pass a gate and access track on your left which could be used to break this walk into two shorter sections if you wished. A short distance ahead you will find the summit marker celebrating the highest point of the route at 1050 feet (320 metres).
Craig Tiribeg is the
highest point on the Moor
The section across the moor undulates gently and you will not start the descent to Dava until you pass through the two short copses on the moor. As you head out across the moor watch out for the buzzards, lapwings, fallow deer, etc. To your left, is the highest hill on this section of moor, Craig Tiribeg at 486 metres (1595 feet) high. Its western flanks drop steeply down to Lochindorb (Gaelic: loch of tadpoles or loch of troubles, depending which source you believe) with its ruined castle on an island. Is it coincidence that the only visible signs of farming here are on the relatively sheltered eastern slopes of the hills? Beyond the last copse, and downhill at last, you can see the tiny wooded settlement of Dava. One of the few houses here was once an old school, and several of the residents have lived on these moors for generations.
Ben Wyvis is amongst
the distant hills
In the far distance to the northwest is Ben Wyvis in Easter Ross, 40 miles (64 km) away. On a clear day you can see Ben More Assynt in Sutherland 61 miles (97 km) away. The railway buildings at Dava, including the station, are now private properties and it is necessary for our walk to leave the line here and follow a on the left towards the main road. At Dava there is no official parking but it is possible to park one or two cars on the flat grass verge opposite the track entrance. Please do not bring cars up the track that is the private driveway for the residents at Dava. For those continuing their walk on another occasion, leave the lane near the road, crosses the ditch, to head through the woods back up to the railway line at the far side of the houses. Those with cycles are asked to use the main road (turn right) for about 300 yards to rejoin the line via a short access track (signposted).