George, Dave and I left Grantown on spey on a dull Sunday morning with expectations of rain and a pretty easy cycle, the plan was to camp at Hopeman caves approximately 60 miles away, leaving roughly 40 miles for Monday. We stayed on the tarmac via the Knockando road until we joined the Speyside way at Blacksboat, because that part of the Speyside way is in a bad state and not enjoyable to cycle through.
We carried on stopping to admire some of the fine distilleries along the way until we reached Aberlour where we had a bit to eat, it was shortly after that we found out it wasn’t going to be an easy Sunday jolly. The Speyside way left the easy train tracks and we headed for Craigellachie and the forestry roads and I think we welcomed the change in terrain and a bit more of a challenge.
We made our way to Fochabers where we stopped for an ice cream as the day had turned out to be a cracker and the sun was shining on us. We carried on til Garmouth and joined the Moray coastal route heading to Lossiemouth, the thought of a beer and a fish supper keeping us going along the challenging pebble and loose sand terrain we found ourselves on, although there was always time to enjoy the changing views and deserted relics from world war 2.
We got to Lossiemouth early evening and caught the fish tea deal at “The Salt Cellar”, a seafront restaurant and very nice it was too. Unfortunately this wasn’t our campsite and had some tricky single track to tackle with full bellies before we could relax. When made it to Hopeman caves, a paddle in the sea was just the ticket for shins full of gorse wounds! Hopeman caves is a truly stunning campsite only spoiled by the animals that bring their barbecues and beers but don’t take the empties back.
After a decent nights sleep we woke to a driech day and we were sure we would get rain that day, but all we were focused on was breakfast so we packed up and headed over to Burghead where we enjoyed fried goods and hot coffee. Fuelled up we headed for Forres and the Dava way. The day cleared up and we were treated to another cracker of a day, stopping at Findhorn for an ice cream and a break, today’s ride was more relaxed as we only had 40 miles to cover on mostly flat terrain and in no time we were sitting outside the Garth in Grantown having a celebratory beer.
It was my first bike packing adventure and I have to say I’m hooked, it’s freedom having your digs on your bike, you can make it as hard or as easy as you like and I have to say going through towns on the way helps not having to carry too much food and water.
I look forward to the next one.
Pics: Troy, Dave, George