Location: Kinrara Strathspey

Grade: Easy low-level walk

Distance: 5 miles/8km

Time: 2-3 hours

SITUATED between Kingussie and Aviemore, Kinrara Estate has had a chequered history in terms of public access. However, a number of years ago a ‘path order’ was taken out by the Cairngorms National Park to enable an extension of the Speyside Way to cross part of the 1100-acre estate, an extension opposed by the estate owners on the basis that it would interfere with nature conservation.

This was the first time the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 had been used to solve an access dispute and after ministers had approved the path order it was eventually built, providing an undulating route between Aviemore and Kincraig. Part of that section of the Speyside Way is included in this route, a very pleasant jaunt that takes you through the wooded heart of Kinrara before returning to the starting point via the new footpath.

Starting point for the walk is the small car park adjacent to the entrance to the Dalraddy Holiday Park. We wandered through the underpass below the railway line and turned left to access the tarmac road that we’d follow for the next 5km. Despite the tarmac underfoot this is a glorious walk through mixed woodland with distant views across the River Spey to the high tops of the Cairngorms. On our visit it was a dark and gloomy afternoon but it was good to see buzzards spiralling above us and blue tits and even some coal tits in amongst the very impressive old pines.

On our left, wooded slopes rose to the summit called Tor Alvie where a huge obelisk points to the sky – the Duke of Gordon monument, built to commemorate the last Duke of Gordon who died in 1836. Close by is another monument, the Waterloo Cairn, erected by the Marquis of Huntly in 1815 to remember the soldiers of the Gordon Highlanders who died at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The tarmac road led us past Kinrara House, formerly the summer home of the Duchess of Gordon, whom Wikipedia describes as a ‘Scottish Tory political hostess.’ Along with her husband, the 4th Duke of Gordon and her son George, Jane, Duchess of Gordon was a founder of the Gordon Highlanders, an infantry regiment that existed until 1994.

It’s said she was a patron of Robert Burns. It’s also claimed that she encouraged young men to join up by offering them the King’s shilling, held between her lips. The recruits got their recruiting payment and a kiss into the bargain!

We wandered on past some keepers’ cottages with the hillside on our left now covered in juniper bushes. Further on we passed a track running off to our left before we dropped down towards some reedy, shallow lochans. There is a lovely view here back over the water to the sharp rise of Tor Alvie.

Soon we were back in pine woods before reaching a cottage beyond which lay our return route to Dalraddy, the troublesome section of the Speyside Way. This long distance trail runs from Spey Bay on the Moray Firth to Newtonmore and this sections more or less parallels the London to Inverness railway.

It’s an undulating trail, with one or two steep sections and a short section on wooden boards where it crosses marshy ground. It’s straightforward in terms of navigation though – just stick to the path and you won’t go wrong. We soon reached the road we followed earlier. We simply crossed over and followed our outward route back to Dalraddy car park, the end of a short but very satisfying route that made the most of a glowering January afternoon.

Cameron McNeish


Map: OS 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 36 (Grantown & Aviemore); Harveys Map of the Speyside Way

Start/Finish: Car park adjacent to the entrance to Dalraddy Holiday Park (GR: NN857083)

Distance: 5 miles/8km

Time: 2-3 hours

Information: Aviemore TIC, 01479 810930.

Route: Go through underpass below the railway. Almost immediately TL through a gate. Follow the path to a minor road. Follow road for 5km, past Kinrara House and some keepers’ cottages, past lochans and over a stream. When you pass a cottage on your L watch out for Speyside Way signs pointing L. Follow the undulating path, paralleling the railway all the way back to the tarmac road. Cross road and follow path back to the the railway underpass. Go back through the underpass to the car park.