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Water is the lifeblood of Speyside, a pocket of northeast Scotland best known for its historic whisky distilleries and legendary salmon fishing. The fast-flowing River Spey attracts anglers from around the world, while the 60 or so distilleries here produce some of the most famous single malts in the country.

Speyside runs roughly between Aberdeen and Inverness just to the east of the Cairngorms National Park. Its hills and forests give way to picturesque fishing villages, sandy beaches and a diverse array of marine life off the coast. If you'd like to explore on foot, the Speyside Way, a long-distance footpath, traces the River Spey through some of the region's most beautiful countryside.

I think Speyside is the perfect place to spend a few days exploring some of Scotland’s best-known distilleries. Cruising along the open roads with the mountains of the Cairngorms National Park behind me, I found a real sense of peace here.

UK and Ireland specialist Andea

Things to see and do in Speyside

Whisky distilleries

Scottish whiskyHome to over half Scotland's distilleries, Speyside is renowned for its historic stills and complex single malts. Both the River Spey and the River Findhorn flow through the region, their waters feeding the highest concentration of distilleries in the country.

From celebrated names such as Glenlivet and Glenfiddich to smaller, independent stills preserving age-old traditional techniques, a tour of some of the distilleries here offers a chance to grasp the mysteries of distilling and the influence of the surrounding landscape on the subtleties of taste and tone. You’ll also learn about the history of whisky smuggling in the region, which was widespread in the 18th century after the introduction of higher tax levies.

Salmon fishing

The River Spey is one of Scotland's legendary salmon rivers, with anglers flocking here from all over the world. Its prolific salmon and sea trout, fast-flowing water and excellent management make it a sought-after location, as does its setting along wooded banks backed by the mountains of the Cairngorms.

Although there are plenty of public beats, some of the finest sections of the river run through private estates where anglers' needs are expertly catered for but fishing rights come at some of the highest costs in the country. Wherever you decide to fish, knowledgeable local ghillies (guides) can assist greatly and can help you hone the famous 'Spey cast', which was first used here. The salmon fishing season runs from mid-February until September.

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Audley Travel specialist Aislyn

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Suggested itinerary featuring Speyside

This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Speyside, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Speyside

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    Places near Speyside

    Accommodation choices for Speyside

    We've selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Speyside. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.