A riverside boardwalk section of a trail.
Camera Rich Brame

Backpacking Scotland's Speyside Way - Alumni


9 days


18+ yrs



See Dates

Join a group of NOLS grads, friends, family and instructors for six days of spectacular walking along Scotland’s Speyside Way. You will hike from Scotland’s Cairngorms high peaks to the North Sea as we trek between small hotels and villages carrying light backpacks in the heart of whisky country.

Photo Credit: Sierra Love Stowell 

NOLS has chosen a unique string of inns that give us the chance to savor Scottish cuisine and culture while mixing with other, mostly European travelers in a comfortable setting.

Photo Credit: Sierra Love Stowell

Sleeping and dining (dinner and breakfasts) at Inns will ensure a high quality and incredibly local food experience that you will not forget. Additionally, there is a luggage shuttle that moves the bulk of our necessities between Inns so our daily packs are kept light with daily needs only.

We couple these creature comforts with "real" trail walking over varied terrain and occasionally wet weather to ensure you have true NOLS experience. Our daily hikes will consist of country lanes, former railroad grade, rocky peaks, seaside cliffs, and pastoral green glacial valleys of this area. Although not steep, hiking distances are long and the weather sometimes inclement. Our moves average 12+ miles per day, so be prepared for a physical challenge.

Photo Credit: Sierra Love Stowell

The Speyside Way is a long distance hiking trail from Aviemore to the North Sea. The path passes through Cairngorms National Park, home to Scotland’s most rugged mountains as it mostly follows the river Spey. We cherry pick our favorite parts of this path for this trip, hitting the highlights in a shorter period of time than is needed for the full 137 km.

Along the trail, if weather permits, we may explore some of the rugged mountains around us, walking up a “Corbett” (a mountain higher than 2500 but lower than 3000 feet) or a “Munro” (higher than 3000 feet) in the park. We will spend eight total nights in the "field" at inns or small hotels and six full days hiking.

On our layover days we will seek out local attractions such as visiting the Glenlivet Distillery where we will learn about making whisky, one of the region’s most celebrated exports.

Photo Credit: Sierra Love Stowell

On our way to the sea we will pass working farmland, forests, and small towns that will give us a window into Scottish country life. If timing permits, we will aspire to attend a regional Highlands Games where participants can immerse themselves in some of the traditional bagpipe music, sports, and dress of northern Scotland.

Photo Credit: Rich Brame

Our trek will end along the beach with a chance to take in the dramatic cliffs and the salty ocean air of the North Sea before returning to Aviemore for a celebratory final dinner together.

Photo Credit: Gabby Trujillo

This trip will reacquaint you with NOLS skills in a convivial, relaxing and visually stunning location. Instruction is geared to your interests, with optional walk-up peaks, Scottish "word(s) of the day," time for journal-writing, experiencing traditional music, photography and more. Of course, non-alumni adult friends and family members are also invited— this is a great way to introduce NOLS to your sidekicks.

Overall Difficulty*: 

*Enjoy light packs, challenging hikes, and inn living, but the hiking can be strenuous. 

Course Dates

2 courses

Apr 30 - May 8, 2025

Includes pre and post-trip lodging in Aviemore!


May 10 - 18, 2025

Includes pre and post-trip lodging in Aviemore!


Backpacking Scotland's Speyside Way Media


If you have questions about enrollment or including families/guests on a particular alumni trip, then contact:

The NOLS Alumni Department

Other Alumni Courses