A riverside boardwalk section of a trail.
Camera Rich Brame

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Backpacking Scotland's Speyside Way - Alumni


May 11 - 19, 2024

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9 days


18+ yrs



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Join a group of NOLS grads and instructors for seven days of spectacular walking from Scotland’s Cairngorms high peaks to the North Sea as we trek between small hotels and villages with light backpacks in the heart of whisky country. Our final day includes visiting a regional Highland Games where pipe bands compete, herding dogs work magic, and burly athletes toss the caber.

The trip starts and ends in Aviemore at the doorstep of Cairngorms National Park. We suggest folks fly in and out of Edinburgh or London. Consider staying extra days on either end of the trip to explore the sights of Scotland.

Connecting a string of inns gives us the chance to savor Scottish cuisine and culture while mixing with other, mostly European travelers in a comfortable setting. Sleeping and dining (dinner and breakfasts) at inns allows us to considerably lighten our backpacks for our daily hikes along the country lanes, former railroad grade, rocky peaks, and green pastoral glacial valleys of this area.

We spend nine nights in the "field" at inns or small hotels and six days (plus a layover day) hiking as well as hotel nights on either end in Aviemore. Unlike a standard NOLS expedition, we won't carry cook gear, heavy rations or sleeping gear, but we'll do "real" trail walking up and down varied terrain with our light backpacks. Be aware: 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.

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, a distillery tour 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.


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

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