|To:||Boat of Garten (NH951190)|
|Route outline (key)|
NCN Route 79 is a cycle route which currently follows the Speyside Way long distance path, with a few deviations. At present the route is still in planning, without signage and with some gaps to be filled, but much of the Speyside Way is suitable for cycling, and there are quiet side roads to fill in the gaps. In the past, some maps showed a projected continuation westwards via Kingussie to the Great Glen (it was not clear if the route was proposed to follow the A86 or cross the Corrieyairack Pass, and then up Glen Garry and past Loch Quoich to reach the Glenelg - Kylerhea Ferry for the Isle of Skye. This part of the route is no longer shown, suggesting that the plans have been cut back, for now at least.
The route description below is that shown as projected on opencyclemap in Spring 2016, which largely follows the Speyside Way.
Garmouth - Craigellachie
The route starts on NCN1 at the western end of the Spey Viaduct, near the mouth of the Spey, at Garmouth. It curves around to pass under the viaduct and head south on a minor road to Mosstodloch. The Speyside Way runs along a path on the opposite bank of the river. After crossing Fochabers Bridge, the cycle route picks up the Speyside Way along the minor road south, climbing through Speymouth Forest, before dropping down a track to Boat O Brig. A less hilly route can be found by sticking to the B9015 on the west side of the Spey.
The next section of the Speyside Way is a narrow forest path, winding around the sides of Knock More and Ben Aigan, with some steep sections and is not recommended for cyclists. Unfortunately, at present the road alternative is the busy A941 between Rothes and Craigellachie, and a solution to this section seems to be one of the main hold ups in fully opening the route. After a brief section of the A95, the Glen Fiddich Trail, along the former railway line, is joined, which leads seamlessly into the old Speyside railway path, now also part of the Speyside Way.
Craigellachie - Boat of Garten
From Craigellachie, therefore, the cycle route runs between road and river, past Aberlour and across the Carron Bridge over the Spey. Several miles later, the Speyside Way stays on the old railway line back across the river at Ballindalloch, however, the next section is not suitable for cyclists, so NCN79 skips over onto the B9102, and follows this quiet side road into Grantown on Spey.
From Grantown's pretty town centre, the cycle route rejoins the Speyside Way (there is a longer connection from the Cromdale Road) and follows it across the Old Speybridge and after crossing the A95, it quickly rejoins the railway line from the B970. This section of the railway runs to Nethy Bridge, from where there are a choice of two routes through the forest, or the simpler option of following the B970 south to Boat of Garten and NCN7.