Home   News   Article

Forres author Norman Thomson looks back on his contribution to walking and cycling route The Moray Way

By Garry McCartney

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Norman Thomson helping to plant orchard trees at Mannachie park.
Norman Thomson helping to plant orchard trees at Mannachie park.

THE FORRES-based author of a guide to hiking routes in the region has looked back on his contribution to ‘The Moray Way’.

Founder and outgoing chairman of the Moray Way Association (MWA) Norman Thomson is happy to see the circular route established and popular with tourists and locals alike, 15 years after he he first mooted the idea.

He explained: “It grew out of a casual conversation in Forres Library between myself and then-sports development officer for Moray Council, Ann Dunn.

“We realised that the boundaries of Moray could offer a path of at least as much variety and attractiveness as the 104-mile long West Highland Way, with the additional merit of such a route being circular, thereby greatly easing the ‘getting back to the start’ problem which long distance walkers experience. We subsequently plotted out details on ordnance survey maps and held public meetings in Elgin to test the broader appeal of the idea.

“These were well attended and with the support of Moray Council outdoor access manager Ian Douglas, the name ‘Moray Way’ was chosen.”

The Moray Way.
The Moray Way.

First conceived in 2009, the Moray Way is an amalgam of three of Scotland’s Great Trails, combining the Dava Way, two-thirds of the Moray Coastal Trail and around half of the Speyside Way to create a 99 mile loop.

A constitution was drawn up and a walkers map launched, based on inch to a mile ordnance survey mapping. Chairman of Walkers Shortbread Jim Walker provided financial support, enhanced by funds from the European Union LEADER programme. Over the next few years, issues were sorted out at committee meetings before the Moray Way was made public.

“At this point, Dufftown Councillor Fiona Murdoch insisted that fulfilment would not be complete until things were made to happen on the route,” said Norman. “The result was the first Moray Walking Festival in 2011 which had 29 participants.

“Current festival director, Diane Smith from Forres then came onto the scene with proven experience to oversee the steady growth of the event.”

Pandemic years apart, attendance has grown steadily and the scope broadened to include more adventurous outdoor activities and event providers.

The Moray Way Companion.
The Moray Way Companion.

Meanwhile Norman launched his book ‘The Moray Way Companion’ in June 2022.

“This was a true sign of the MWA’s coming of age,” said Norman, “with maps and notes on a variety of aspects of the route.”

More information is available at https://www.moraywayultras.com/moray-way-100

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More