River Spey

Last updated

River Spey
River Spey.jpg
The River Spey at Aberlour
Location
Country United Kingdom
Physical characteristics
Source 
  location Loch Spey (grid reference NN419937 )
  coordinates 57°00′26″N4°36′18″W / 57.00729°N 4.60499°W / 57.00729; -4.60499 Coordinates: 57°00′26″N4°36′18″W / 57.00729°N 4.60499°W / 57.00729; -4.60499
Mouth  
  location
Moray Firth at Spey Bay
Length98 mi (158 km)
Basin size3,008 km2 (1,161 sq mi) [1]
Discharge 
  average64 m3/s (2,300 cu ft/s) [1]
Official nameRiver Spey - Insh Marshes
Designated2 February 1997
Reference no.889 [2]

The River Spey (Scottish Gaelic: Uisge Spè) is a river in the northeast of Scotland. At 98 mi (158 km) [3] it is the eighth longest river in the United Kingdom, as well as the second longest and fastest-flowing river in Scotland. It is important for salmon fishing and whisky production.

Contents

Etymology

The origin of the name Spey is uncertain. A possible etymological genesis for the name Spey is Early Celtic *skwej-, meaning "thorn". [4] The involvement of a Pictish form of Welsh ysbyddad, meaning "hawthorn", has been suggested, [4] but adjudged unlikely. [4] One proposal is a derivation from a Pictish cognate of Old Gaelic sceïd, "vomit" (c.f Welsh chwydu), [4] which is dubious both on phonological and semantic grounds. [4] Ptolemy named the river on his map of c. 150 as Tuesis. The name 'Spey' first appears in 1451. [5]

Course

Catchment of the River Spey within Scotland. Spey.catchment.Scotland.jpg
Catchment of the River Spey within Scotland.
Tributaries of the River Spey. Spey.tributaries.jpg
Tributaries of the River Spey.

The Spey is 107 miles (172 km) long. It rises at over 1,000 feet (300 m) at Loch Spey in Corrieyairack Forest in the Scottish Highlands, 10 miles (16 km) south of Fort Augustus. Some miles downstream from its source it is impounded by Spey Dam before continuing a descent through Newtonmore and Kingussie, crossing Loch Insh before reaching Aviemore, giving its name to Strathspey. From there it flows the remaining 60 miles (97 km) north-east to the Moray Firth, reaching the sea 5 miles (8 km) west of Buckie. [6]

On some sections of its course, the Spey changes course frequently, either gradually as a result of deposition and erosion from normal flow, or in a matter of hours as a result of spate. The Spey spates quickly due to its wide mountainous catchment area as a result of rainfall or snow-melt.

Insh Marshes, an area of roughly two square miles (5 km2) on either side of the Spey in its middle reaches are designated by Scottish Natural Heritage as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, as are the extensive shingle systems at Spey Bay.

Tributaries

After leaving Loch Spey the river gathers numerous burns in the Corrieyarack, Sherramore and Glenshirra Forests. The first sizeable tributary is the Markie Burn which drops out of Glen Markie to the north to enter the waters of Spey impounded behind the Spey Dam. A further mile downstream the River Mashie enters from Strath Mashie to the south.

The River Truim enters on the right bank a couple of miles above Newtonmore and the Highland Calder enters from Glen Banchor on the left bank at Spey Bridge at Newtonmore. At Kingussie the Spey is joined on its left bank by the River Gynack which runs through the town and 1+12 miles (2.4 km) downstream it is joined by the River Tromie which enters on the right bank. The sizeable River Feshie joins on the right bank at Kincraig and the River Druie does likewise at Aviemore. Several miles downstream the River Nethy joins from the east near Nethy Bridge and the River Dulnain originating in the Monadhliath contributes a considerable flow from the west near Dulnain Bridge.

Between Grantown-on-Spey and Craigellachie, the Burn of Tulchan and Allt a Gheallaidh join from the west whilst the Spey's most important tributary, the River Avon joins from the east. The Allt Arder and Knockando Burn also join from the west near Knockando. The River Fiddich enters from the right at Craigellachie and the Burn of Rothes enters from the left at Rothes. Downstream more burns enter the Spey, the most important of which are the Burn of Mulben, Red Burn and Burn of Fochabers.

Industry

The River Spey in spate at the Garmouth old rail bridge Spey in spate at Garmouth.JPG
The River Spey in spate at the Garmouth old rail bridge

The river traditionally supported many local industries, from the salmon fishing industry to shipbuilding. At one stage, Garmouth functioned as the shipbuilding capital of Britain, with timber from the forests around Aviemore and Aberlour being rafted down to create wooden-hulled ships.

The river is known by anglers for the quality of its salmon and trout fishing, including a particular form of fly fishing where the angler uses a double-handed fly rod to throw a 'Spey cast' whereby the fly and the line do not travel behind the fisher (thereby keeping these away from the bushes and trees lining the banks behind him or her). This type of cast was developed on the Spey.

Speyside distilleries produce more whisky than any other region. Scotland's Malt Whisky Trail is a tourism initiative featuring seven working Speyside distilleries, a historic distillery and the Speyside Cooperage. The concept was created in the early 1980s. The region is a natural for whisky distillers because of three benefits: it is close to barley farms, contains the River Spey and is close to the port of Garmouth. [7]

The Speyside Way, a long-distance footpath, follows the river through the County of Moray.

The River Spey is unusual in that its speed increases as it flows closer to the sea, due to a broadly convex long-profile. The Spey does not meander, although it rapidly moves its banks. South of Fochabers a high earth barrier reinforces the banks, but the river has broken through on several occasions, removing a large portion of Garmouth Golf Course, sections of wall surrounding Gordon Castle, parts of the Speyside Way and some of the B9104 road.

The Spey railway bridge (pedestrianised as of 2010) Spey Bay to Garmouth was originally designed with its main span over the main flow of the river, however before construction was completed the river had changed its course and was running at one end of the bridge.

Settlements

Starting from the source

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Badenoch</span>

Badenoch is a traditional district which today forms part of Badenoch and Strathspey, an area of Highland Council, in Scotland, bounded on the north by the Monadhliath Mountains, on the east by the Cairngorms and Braemar, on the south by Atholl and the Grampians, and on the west by Lochaber. The capital of Badenoch is Kingussie.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">River Avon, Strathspey</span> River in United Kingdom, Scotland

The River Avon is a river in the Strathspey area of the Scottish Highlands, and a tributary of the River Spey. It drains the north-eastern area of the Cairngorm Mountains and is largely contained within the Cairngorms National Park

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Speyside single malt</span> Single malt Scotch whiskies distilled in Strathspey,

Speyside single malts are single malt Scotch whiskies, distilled in Strathspey, the area around the River Spey in Moray and Badenoch and Strathspey, in northeastern Scotland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grantown-on-Spey</span> Human settlement in Scotland

Grantown-on-Spey is a town in the Highland Council Area, historically within the county of Moray. It is located on a low plateau at Freuchie beside the river Spey at the northern edge of the Cairngorm mountains, about 20 miles (32 km) south-east of Inverness.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kingussie</span> Town in Scotland

Kingussie is a small town in the Badenoch and Strathspey ward of the Highland council area of Scotland. Historically in Inverness-shire, it lies beside the A9 road, although the old route of the A9 serves as the town's main street which has been bypassed since 1979. Kingussie is 42 miles south of Inverness, 12 mi (19 km) south of Aviemore, and 3 mi (5 km) north of Newtonmore.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">County of Moray</span> Historic county in Scotland

Moray; or Morayshire, called Elginshire until 1919, is a historic county, registration county and lieutenancy area of Scotland, bordering Nairnshire to the west, Inverness-shire to the south, and Banffshire to the east. It was a local government county, with Elgin the county town, until 1975. The county was officially called Elginshire, sharing the name of the Elginshire parliamentary constituency, so named since 1708.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cairngorms National Park</span> National park in Scotland

Cairngorms National Park is a national park in northeast Scotland, established in 2003. It was the second of two national parks established by the Scottish Parliament, after Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, which was set up in 2002. The park covers the Cairngorms range of mountains, and surrounding hills. Already the largest national park in the United Kingdom, in 2010 it was expanded into Perth and Kinross.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Strathspey, Scotland</span> Region of Scotland

Strathspey is the region around the strath of the River Spey, Scotland, split between the Moray council area and the Badenoch and Strathspey committee area of Highland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aberlour</span> Human settlement in Scotland

Aberlour is a town in Moray, Scotland, 12 miles (20 km) south of Elgin on the road to Grantown. The Lour burn is a tributary of the River Spey, and it and the surrounding parish are both named Aberlour, but the name is more commonly used in reference to the village which straddles the stream and flanks the Spey – although the full name of the village is Charlestown of Aberlour.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Speyside Way</span>

The Speyside Way is a long-distance path in the Scottish Highlands. The route begins in Buckie and ends at Newtonmore,137 kilometres (85 mi) away. There is an optional spur leading off the main route to Tomintoul, adding 25 kilometres (16 mi) and 865 metres (2,838 ft) of ascent.

The Strathspey Railway (SR) in Badenoch and Strathspey, Highland, Scotland, operates a ten-mile (16 km) heritage railway from Aviemore to Broomhill, Highland via Boat of Garten, part of the former Inverness and Perth Junction Railway which linked Aviemore with Forres. It is one of only a handful of former primary/secondary main lines to be preserved in Britain today.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Newtonmore</span> Human settlement in Scotland

Newtonmore is a village in the Highland council area of Scotland. The village is only a few miles from a location that is claimed to be the exact geographical centre of Scotland.

Longmorn is a village in Moray, Scotland, famous for its malt whisky distilleries. It lies approximately 2+12 miles (4 km) south of Elgin, on the main road from Elgin to Rothes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Craigellachie, Moray</span> Human settlement in Scotland

Craigellachie is a small village in Moray, Scotland, at the confluence of the River Spey and River Fiddich, in walking distance of the town of Aberlour.

The Strathspey Railway was a railway company in Scotland that ran from Dufftown (in Moray to Boat of Garten (in Badenoch and Strathspey]], Scotland. It was proposed locally but supported by the larger Great North of Scotland Railway, which wanted to use it as an outlet towards Perth. The GNoSR had to provide much of the funding, and the value of traffic proved to be illusory. The line opened in 1863 to Abernethy, but for the time being was unable to make the desired connection to the southward main line. Although later some through goods traffic developed, the route never achieved its intended purpose.

The Strathspey & Badenoch Welfare Football Association is the governing body overseeing amateur Scottish Welfare football in the Badenoch and Strathspey area of Scotland. It is affiliated to Scottish Welfare Football Association and Scottish Football Association and has been running intermittently since its inaugural season in 1929–30. The winners on that occasion were the now-defunct Nethy Bridge F.C.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Insh</span> Human settlement in Scotland

Insh is a village in Highland, Scotland that lies on the east coast of the Insh Marshes. It is in the Badenoch and Strathspey area, around 3+12 miles east of Kingussie, in the Spey valley. It is located in historic Inverness-shire. The B970 road from Kingussie to Kincraig and Aviemore passes through the village. At the other side of the valley is the major A9 road from Inverness to the Central Belt. Along the road towards Ruthven Barracks is the small Speyside Distillery.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Strathspey Camanachd</span>

Strathspey Camanachd is a shinty club based in Grantown-on-Spey, Strathspey, Scotland, currently competing in the Marine Harvest North Division Two.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">East Highland Way</span>

The East Highland Way is a long distance walking route in Scotland that connects Fort William (56.8178°N 5.1109°W) with the ski and mountain resort of Aviemore (57.1899°N 3.8292°W). The route was described by Kevin Langan in 2007. The name is derived from the fact that the route terminates in Aviemore at the eastern edge of Highland region. The EHW route takes in a varied and wild landscape through deep forest plantations, passing many highland lochs and negotiating unspoilt marshlands. The route also explores the ancient Caledonian forests of Inshriach. The walk is 82 miles (132 km) long.

References

  1. 1 2 "Spey Fishery Board". Archived from the original on 22 February 2007. Retrieved 21 August 2006.
  2. "River Spey - Insh Marshes". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  3. Clayton, Phil (2012). Headwaters: Walking to British River Sources (First ed.). London: Frances Lincoln Limited. p. 207. ISBN   9780711233638.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Rhys, Guto. "Approaching the Pictish language: historiography, early evidence and the question of Pritenic" (PDF). University of Glasgow. University of Glasgow.
  5. Ross, D. 2001 Scottish Place-names Birlinn, Edinburgh p200
  6. Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 scale Landranger map sheets 28 Elgin, 34 Fort Augustus, 35 Kingussie, 36 Grantown & Aviemore and 42 Loch Rannoch
  7. "Exploring Scotland's historic whisky trail". www.bbc.com/travel.