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The River Spey

This river in the Highlands of Scotland rises in Mt Clach-a-Cheannaiche in the north of Lochaber, in old Invernessshire, at a height of 1497 ft. above the sea. A mile from its source it forms the small Loch Spey, and 31 miles lower down it expands into the larger Loch Inch. After crossing the boundary of old Elginshire, below Grantown, it pursues an extremely serpentine course, as far as Craigellachie, where it begins to flow due northwards, becoming wholly a Moray stream as it approaches Fochabers, and falling by several mouths into the Moray Firth at Kingston.

Its total length is about 110 miles. It is the most rapid river in Scotland and is nowhere properly navigable, though at Speymouth in its lowest reaches some ship-building has been intermittently carried on. The strength of its current is due partly to its lofty origin, and partly to the volume of water contributed by numberless streams from the mountainous regions of its birth. The more important tributaries are, on the left, the Markie, Calder, Dulnain, Tulchan, Ballintomb and Rothes and, on the right, the Mashie, Truim, Tromie, Feshie, Nethy, Avon, Fiddich and Mulben.

Its area of drainage is 1300 square miles. At certain points the stream attains a considerable width, as at Alvie, where it is 150 feet. wide, and at Kingussie, where its width is from 80 to 100 feet. From below Craigellachie, and especially on the low-lying coast-land, pools or stretches of fair size become frequent. For beauty of scenery Strathspey holds its own with any of the great valleys of Scotland. As a salmon river the Spey yields only to the Tay and Tweed. It passes many interesting spots in its long career, such as Laggan; Cluny Castle, the seat of Cluny Macpherson; Craig Dhu, the “black rock,” and Kingussie. It flows past the pine forests of Rothiemurchus; Granton, the capital of Strathspey; Cromdale, where the clansmen suffered defeat at the hands of William III.’s troops in 1690; Ballindalloch, with a splendid Scottish baronial castle, the seat of the Macpherson-Grants; and Charlestown of Aberlour and its fine cataract.

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