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Forres author Norman Thomson to launch The Moray Way Companion at the Tolbooth tonight (Friday, June 17)

By Garry McCartney

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Author Norman Thomson with a copy of his new guide book, available at local bookshops.
Author Norman Thomson with a copy of his new guide book, available at local bookshops.

A LOCAL author and walking enthusiast has written a new book on some of Moray’s finest walks.

Norman Thomson’s ‘The Moray Way Companion’, published by independent Scottish house Birlinn, will be launched at an event in the Tolbooth this weekend.

The book is a comprehensive guide to the long distance route made up of three of Scotland’s Great Trails: the Moray Coast Trail; the Speyside Way; and the Dava Way.

Norman explained: “The Companion is inspired by the desire to have such information available in a handy, pocket-sized form. It matches Birlinn guides to the Deeside Way and Fife Coast Trail, marking the coming of age of the Moray Way.”

Norman (centre) and other Moray Way Association members in Findhorn.
Norman (centre) and other Moray Way Association members in Findhorn.

Norman has been charmed by Moray’s countryside since boyhood. After teaching at Gordonstoun, he spent most of his working life in computing and education in England, before retiring to Forres in 2006.

He has written two other companion books - of Forres and the Dava Way - and remains a committed member of the Dava Way Association.

He said: “Moray handsomely meets demand for substantial paths of all levels of length, difficulty and challenge. Many reward the walker with long, continuous journeys with little or no contact with motor roads. Volunteer efforts have made the Moray Way among the best of its kind in terms of exemplary consistency of documentation, mapping and signposting. Its relative distance from main urban centres guarantees true feelings of freedom and remoteness.”

The concept of the Moray Way arose from a conversation in Forres Library in 2009 between Norman and then-Moray Council sports development officer, Ann Dunn. Public meetings in Elgin generated support and, with help from Walkers of Aberlour, the Moray Way Association came into being.

Norman said: “As well as upgrading and standardising signage with help from Moray Council, a ‘Walkers Map of the Moray Way’ was launched with practical information such as track surfaces, distances, town inset maps, OS grid references, bus routes and more. Years later, the Moray Way Association created the annual Moray Walking Festival. This event is now one of the best known of its kind in Scotland, this year consisting of a 10-day midsummer programme.”

See www.walkingoutdoorfest.co.uk for more information.

Picture show ‘Around the Moray Way in 40 minutes’ at the Tolbooth on Friday June 17 starts at 7.30pm and marks the opening day of the festival. Tickets cost £5 are available at https://www.moraywalkoutdoorfest.co.uk/ and at the door.

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