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Grey Seals hauled out on the rocky shore at Portgordon
Grey Seals hauled out on the rocky shore at Portgordon (harbour or common seals are smaller with a flatter more doglike face)

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Route No. 596 - Wednesday 23 September 2015
Portgordon, coastal shingle bank,
mouth of the R. Spey, Speyside Way circuit - 12km
Moray Firth, Scotland . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 424 Buckie & Keith


Grey Seals hauled out on the rocky shore at Portgordon
Grey Seals hauled out on the rocky shore at Portgordon

Track between the houses & the shore leading to the harbour
Track between the houses & the shore leading to the harbour

Before we had even got out of the car we could see below us about 20m away there was a group of seals hauled out on the rocky shore. We got out of the car quietly and stood by the car for a better view. We counted around two dozen near by with others farther along the beach and a whole series of heads in the sea keeping everything under observation. The tide was going out but it was only about 90mins after high water.

My wife & I are on holiday in Scotland. We spent a few days in Dunblane and now we are staying in a holiday cottage in Findochty on the coast of the Moray Firth. This morning we drove a little way west along the coast to the edge of another fishing village called Portgordon. We parked on some rough ground between the coast road and the rocky foreshore at the eastern edge of the village where there is an access point off the road at map ref. NJ 400 644.

Track between the houses & the shore leading to the harbour
Track between the houses & the shore leading to the harbour

The harbour entrance at Portgordon
The harbour entrance at Portgordon

Redshanks feeding on the mud in the harbour
Redshanks feeding on the mud in the harbour

We continued along the sea front road (A990) for a few hundred metres. Then the A990 made a sharp left hand turn inland but we continued along a minor road on the sea front.

We set off along an access track between the houses and the shore leading to the eastern side of the harbour. We walked around the harbour where there was a small flock of redshanks feed in the mud at the edge of the receding tide.

Track between the houses & the shore leading to the harbour
Redshanks feeding on the mud in the harbour

Following the road along the sea front from the harbour
Following the road along the sea front from the harbour

The tide was just starting to recede from the shingle
The tide was just starting to recede from the shingle

Path along the field edge next to the shingle bank
Path along the field edge next to the shingle bank

Path approaching Spey Bay
Path approaching Spey Bay

Dolphin centre at Spey Bay
Dolphin centre at Spey Bay

The weather was wet and windy and there were very few golfers to be seen. We followed the track to the hamlet of Spey Bay where the track joins the B9104 road. We turned off the track to follow a footpath between to Spey Bay Hotel (closed & fenced off) and the shore. We continued along this path to the Scottish Dolphin Centre at the mouth of the River Spey. We had a light lunch in the cafe there and whilst we were eating we saw a single dolphin that was feeding at the river mouth, displayed on the CCTV screen in the cafe. After our lunch the weather was much improved. We had a look around the centre and the view out to sea but there was no more dolphin activity.

At the end of the road a track continued following the edge of the field at the foot of the shingle bank along the shore. I hoped the tide would be far enough out for us to walk along the beach so we made our way over the shingle to walk along the narrow strip of sand that was already exposed. It was not a good idea! We tried it for a while but it's rough going on the shingle and the sand was too soft to walk on. I think that an hour or so later it would have been OK. Anyway we made our way back over the shingle bank and continued along the path in the fields next to the shingle bank. Soon we came to the golf links where there was a good track along the foot of the shingle bank.

Track between the golf links and the shingle bank
Track between the golf links and the shingle bank

Path between the houses & the shore at Spey Bay
Path between the houses & the shore at Spey Bay

The mouth of the R. Spey from the Dolphin Centre
The mouth of the R. Spey from the Dolphin Centre

The Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay
The Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay

Leaving Spey Bay along the B9104
Leaving Spey Bay along the B9104

Pretty path through the woodland around the golf links
Pretty path through the woodland around the golf links

Pretty path through the woodland around the golf links
Pretty path through the woodland around the golf links

The Moray Coast Trail follows the same route as the Spey Way to Portgordon. We continued along this very pretty path through the woodland along the southern edge of the golf links.

We set off along the B9104 through the village and at the southern edge of the houses we turned left off the road to follow the Spey Way path . The route was well signed and way marked.

The turning off the B9104 on to the Spey Way
The turning off the B9104 on to the Spey Way

Pretty path through the woodland around the golf links
Pretty path through the woodland around the golf links

Pretty path through the woodland around the golf links
Pretty path through the woodland around the golf links

View from the edge of the woodland towards Portgordon & the hills beyond
View from the edge of the woodland towards Portgordon & the hills beyond

Emerging from the woodland on to the track
Emerging from the woodland on to the track

The footpath joined the railway next to this bridge
The footpath joined the railway next to this bridge

Two ladies & their collection of small dogs by the railway path
Two ladies & their collection of small dogs by the railway path

At this track we turned right for just a few metres and then took a footpath bearing left off the track for about 30m to join the path along the disused railway just next to the old railway bridge. We walked along the railway path for about 1.3km to a road bridge over the old railway on the edge of Portgordon.

After about 1.5km through the woodland we came to a track at map ref. NJ 372 642 at the end of the woodland. The track came from Lower Auchenreath, over the bridge across the disused railway and out to the shore.

Footpath to the left off the track, leading to the railway
Footpath to the left off the track, leading to the railway

Heading for Portgordon along the railway path
Heading for Portgordon along the railway path

Footbridge taking the railway path over the Burn of Tynet
Footbridge taking the railway path over the Burn of Tynet

Road bridge over the railway at the edge of Portgordon
Road bridge over the railway at the edge of Portgordon

Joining the road from the railway path
Joining the road from the railway path

Following the road to the sea front
Following the road to the sea front

An oyster catcher feeding at the water's edge
An oyster catcher feeding at the water's edge

The track back to the car at the eastern end of Portgordon
The track back to the car at the eastern end of Portgordon

We stood and watched the seals from a distance so as not to disturb them. A close approach could spook them all into the sea, probably not to return today. Eventually we got back into our car to return to our cottage after an interesting and enjoyable day at the seaside.

Here we joined the road and followed the road to the sea front at Stewart Street to retrace our outward route past the harbour and along the edge of the rocky shore to our parking spot. The tide was well out now and there were over 50 seals laid on the shore and more further east.

Following the road along the sea front
Following the road along the sea front

Back at the harbour in Portgordon
Back at the harbour in Portgordon

Grey seals on the rocks near our car
Grey seals on the rocks near our car

Some of the many seals hauled out on the beach at low water to the east of Portgordon
Some of the many seals hauled out on the beach at low water to the east of Portgordon

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