The Dava Way | Day 2

The Dava Way | Day 2

The Dava Way is an inspirational trail that offers something for everybody, regardless of experience or physical capabilities. Whilst it doesn’t have the magnificence of Glen Coe or the feeling of wilderness as the west coast, what it does offer is a little bit of everything, in an easy and accessible trail, without the complications of a lot of the other Scottish Great Trails.

Out of all the trails we have walked as part of our 2023 adventure or before, the Dava Way is the most well maintained, waymarked and easy to follow trail that we have walked. If you are new to hiking or keen to get a taste for what hiking has to offer, the Dava Way could be a perfect introduction. The rewards of the trail and the variety of trail experiences far exceeds the minimal effort required to walk it. Just make sure you have transport arranged if you intend to break it into sections without wildcamping.

The Dava Way has loads of history connected to it, from the Highland Railway line it follows, to the stories of crofts and the way people used to live and work in rural Scotland hundreds of years ago. The stories and personal connections that people have to the area you will be able to learn about as you walk between the frequent information boards that are so well written they leave you wanting to learn more.

There is a dedicated and committed group of unpaid volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the trail and keep it accessible to people like Eve and I. I would like to extend our thanks for all their hard work. You made the last two days walking an incredible journey and one we hope to return to in the years to come. Thank you Friends of the Dava Way

The day started with the alarm going off at 6 am.

After the issue yesterday of trying to get back to Grantown-on-Spey where our accommodation was, we had kindly been contacted by several people offering us lifts back to where we stopped yesterday. Thank you all so much. The local community (and people further away) who were reaching out to help us was truly touching. Thank you so much!

We had arranged to meet a lovely lady at the coop at 7.30am who would be able to drop us off on her way to work. Thank you Morgan, you are a wonderful person and we wish you all the luck in the world with your new career! The conversation on route was very enlightening. Thank you!

Whilst standing at the coop we were recognised but a number of people including a lovely lady who spoke to us and even gave us a £10 donation. Thank you.

Arriving back at Edinkillie community Hall it was lightly raining. We had been anticipating rain so already had our waterproofs on with the expectations that the rain would get progressively worse. The rain did get slightly worse but it didn’t turn into the storm we were expecting. In fact most of the day the rain was little more than drizzle.

We had about 9 miles to complete today to get to Forres which is the end of the Dava Way. The actual end of the trail is ambiguous, so we chose to end on the high street of Forres at the Mercat Cross.

The route today was mainly through elevated farmland and woodland.

We never actually walked through any farmers fields making the trail a lot easier and simpler. Sometimes crossing pastural land can be hard as farmers regularly block or close the trails. As the Dava Way follows the old railway line there was no need to enter any farmers fields.

Today we saw our first and only other hiker coming in the other direction. He was an elderly man who looked like he had just walked out of an outdoor shop with every item of clothing and equipment looking brand knew. I hope if this is his first time hiking and camping he has found a nice location and is warm and comfortable. He picked a great trail!

We walked over and under lots of bridges. Apparently the railway line was built with the intention of having beautiful architecture which is why the bridges have turrets and other interesting features. It was a design to make them look beautiful.

The trail has loads of benches to rest on. Many of them being memorial benches and nearly all of them looking like they’re specific Dava Way benches. This trail really is a treat to hike along.

We spent a lot of time singing today, loudly and very out of tune. For some reason we were singing ‘I love it’ by Icona Pop (the clean version 😂)

The woodlands that we walked through looked and felt wild and old but we were never that far from the road or other urban settlements. The woodlands were made to feel even more atmospheric with the low lying cloud creating a fog and the rain that made everything look so bright. The noise of the rain gathering on leaves and falling through the canopy created a noisy symphony that was better than any manmade music (in my opinion). I also love the sound of a crackling fire or the noise of rain on a tent at night.

One place we would like to revisit is the old brewery Dallas Dhu that is now a museum operated by Historic Scotland.

Coming into the outskirts of Forres, we passed Sanquhar Loch and the Wier. The Wier was noisy with hundreds of litres of water cascading over it. Eve and I spent some time there just looking at the water cascading as it made us feel like we were falling or moving. It was an odd almost nauseating feeling.

Whilst at Sanquhar Loch we were approached by a lovely lady who recognised us and offered us to go back to her house to dry out. We politely declined as we were warm and happy but what Eve was keen to do was to meet her dogs. Eve, after petting them, spent the rest of the journey into the centre of Forres talking about them 😂. It was lovely to meet you Beth and thank you so much for your kind offer.

We walked passed the school at home time where we ended up walking between groups of school children onto the high street.

Once on the high street we took a few photographs and a passer-by offered to take our picture that we accepted with thanks.

Sarah was driving to us today to collect us for a day off and to take us to the next trail. We phoned her to see how she was getting on to be told she was just parking up in Forres. We couldn’t have timed getting into Forres more perfectly if we had tried. At this time we got approached by a man who gave us our second £10 donation of the day. Thank you.

We took a few more pictures and together we all celebrated completing another one of Scotlands Great Trails, not to mention Eve’s mammoth achievement yesterday hiking 15.1 miles over snow and ice.

The Dava Way might be short at only 24 miles, but it punches well above its weight in every way. It was a privilege and the local people were so friendly and supporting, thank you to everybody and the Dava Way for a superb and educational 2 days.

Together we went on to a small cycle shop The Bike Bothy where we all had a hot drink, courtesy of a lovely man called Brian who coincidentally had offered us a lift this morning too. Thank you so much Brian. Eve and I had a hot chocolate that was really good and Sarah a coffee. In the cycle shop they had free to play arcade games that Eve didn’t stop playing the whole time we were there. Eve was playing Pac-Man!

After a hot drink and rest we walked to the car and drove back to Grantown-on-Spey to visit a bookshop to get a Eve a book. (We had received a donation of Buy Me a Coffee from a lovely and generous lady to take Eve to this book shop to get her a book) the bookshop is a called The Bookmark

Bookshops are one of our favourite types of shop. If we were to own a shop we would want to own a bookshop! This bookshop was perfect. WHSmith or Waterstones just don’t have the same character and appeal and certainly don’t have the books you can get from these amazing, small independent book shops. We were all in heaven.

Eve chose a book called Hedgewitch by Skye McKenna after a recommendation from Marjorie the lovely owner describing it as Harry Potter for girls. Eve was getting overwhelmed with the choice as we could easily have walked out with hundreds of books! Thank you so much Fiona for Eve’s book!

Then the drive home with loads of phone calls and emails to catch up on. We got home at about 7 pm, cooked a quick dinner before putting Eve to bed and collapsing on the sofa.

Tomorrow we have a different type of adventure planned as well as a lot of planning to do ready for the filming of the documentary!

That’s it for this evening.

Ian, Eve & Sarah