Dufftown to Craigellachie

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Length: Apx; 5 Miles / 8 Km


Ground: Grass/Mud/Stoney


Time: 2 to 2½ hours


The Dufftown to Craigellachie walk is a little over 5 miles long and is a relatively easy route to follow. For the most part it uses the old railway line alongside the River Fiddich and the track surface alternates between grass and dust with regular rougher areas due to some larger stones on the surface. Although it had been sunny for a few days when I made the journey, it had been raining solidly for the past week but the path was generally quite dry and firm.


It isn’t recommended for pushchairs though since at one point there has been a landslide and most of the track has fallen away leaving a steep drop on one side. What is left is very narrow, uneven and, thanks to water running off the hill, quite slippery.

It’s only about 5 metres across but it would be a brave person who tried to carry a pushchair over this small section. As this damage occurred in 2002 I would have hoped the local council could have provided a bridge over the damage or at the very least a hand rail to afford safe access by now. However it is still possible to cross safely with care.

Dufftown Square

I started the route in Dufftown square where there is ample parking and a good selection of shops, cafes and pubs.

From here the walker has a choice to either head up into the woods above Dufftown and do a small circuit (about 30 mins) which meanders around behind Balvenie castle or to head along the main road towards Craigellachie to join the route at the Keith & Dufftown railway.

It is still possible to visit Balvenie castle from the main road with only a short detour by turning right between the Glenfiddich Distillery and its car park and following the signs. After about 100 metres a well made tarmac path on the right leads up to the castle although again this is quite steep. The castle is maintained by Historic Scotland and there is a charge for entry.

The first part of the route around Balvenie castle is marked in red on the map as it is comprised of hills and narrow walkways so I have made it optional, but there are some great views to be had for those who brave the extra mile or so.

Balvenie Castle

To walk the red route, leave the square heading north towards Craigellachie and turn right at the post office onto Albert Place. Continue forward almost to the top of the road then turn left into Tomnamuidh Road. Continue forward to the top of the road where it bends to the right by a post box. At the post box leave the road and continue straight ahead onto a small grass track.

Follow the track to the top where you will enter a small wood. Continue straight ahead. After a short distance the track splits into two routes. If you look ahead and to the left you will see some benches and from those you can see the castle with a grass slope heading down between some fields. Head down this slope which will bring you onto the tarmac path at the castle. If you want to explore the castle you should turn right here. You’ll see a small wooden building which doubles as an information centre and the castle shop.

To continue without entering the castle follow the tarmac path to the left and walk down hill around the south side of the castle. After a few hundred metres the path reaches the road. Turn left and pass between the Glenfiddich Distillery buildings until you reach the main road.

Dufftown & Keith Railway


Turn right onto the main Craigellachie road and continue on until you reach the Keith & Dufftown railway. Enter the car park, pass to the right of the ticket office building (there are public toilets here) and turn left onto the platform. Continue to the end of the platform and join the old railway line. After about 100 metres go through the wooden gate and cross the road junction. You should now be in a car park and picnic area. Looking straight ahead you can see the old railway line continue along the side of the main road.

From this point directions are hardly necessary as the only point where there could be any confusion is where the Isla Way leaves the old railway line but it is well signposted. Just follow the sign straight ahead towards Craigellachie.

Many parts of the route are reasonably child friendly, however caution should be used as there are long sections with no fences and quite steep drops to the river.

I would recommend setting out about mid morning as I set out at 4pm and had long periods in the shade due to the high hills to my left and the bright sun in my eyes when the route turned westward.

Highlander Inn

You’ll know you’ve reached Craigellachie when you arrive at the car park and camping area. (There are public toilets here). Continue forward under the iron bridge and after a short distance you will see the Highlander Hotel up to your left.

If you want to explore the village of Craigellachie you should climb the steps to the hotel car park and walk up the hill with the hotel on your left. Apart from the Highlander and the Craigellachie Hotel you’ll find several B&B’s, a gallery, post office and a hairdresser here. The service bus to Dufftown can be caught from here if you want to return to your car.

Craigellachie Bridge

I recommend that while in Craigellachie you visit the old Craigellachie turreted Bridge designed by Thomas Telford and built in 1814. Today it has been retired to traffic by the new bridge over the River Spey but is still accessible on foot.

To reach the bridge, simply turn right instead of left up the Highlander Hotel steps and walk down through the children’s play park past the tennis courts and under the A941 roadway. The bridge affords some great views of the River Spey and you may even spot a Peregrine Falcon here as they have been known to nest in the cliffs.