Spey Bay, WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre and Spey Viaduct Walk

Written by Chris Thornton | 11th of March 2024
Spey Bay, WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre and Spey Viaduct Walk

Spey Bay is a small settlement on the Moray Firth Coast located on the east side of the mouth of the River Spey, which flows into the North Sea.

It's a lovely place to visit at all times of the year; the shingle beach, the mouth of the river and walks along the river give a variety of interesting vistas and habitats for many different species of wildlife - incredible for photography.

Also at the site is the WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre and a great walk to Spey Viaduct, a large Victorian railway bridge completed in 1886.

I visited Spey Bay at the end of February with my young family; read on to learn more about our adventure!

Spey Bay Car Park

There are ample parking spaces directly next to the WDC Centre, with around 20 spaces (including accessible parking). Picnic tables are available between the car park and the beach, and information boards about the wildlife and walks can be read.

Spey Bay Car Park / Drop off point.
The car park at Spey Bay.

Spey Bay Beach

The beach at Spey Bay is truly lovely. It's not known for its golden sands but rather for its tumbling stones - the sound is fantastic. Just be careful if walking here; it would be easy to fall over your ankle and hurt yourself as the rounded stones move as you walk - it wouldn't be suitable for those uneasy on their feet or very small children.

Waves at Spey Bay Beach. Charity whale.
Crashing waves at Spey Bay.

My girls loved looking for sea glass here and found a few little bits, along with some interesting-looking stones. Amazingly, just a few days after our visit, a WW2 bomb was discovered where we had walked.

This stony beach continues all the way to the mouth of the River Spey; this is a great place to spot dolphins and seals feasting on the salmon. We didn't encounter any on this visit.

Walking at Spey Bay, dolphins are regularly spotted.
Walking at Spey Bay.
 
Driftwood at the mouth of the River Spey.
The mouth of the River Spey.

We walked along the riverside, returning to the dolphin centre, and then decided to take the walk to Spey Viaduct.

View of Spey Beach and visitor centre. Stunning moray firth coastline.
The view looking back towards the beach and the visitor centre.

Walk to Spey Viaduct

It took us about 20 minutes to walk to Spey Viaduct along a path about 1 mile long. This excellent route follows part of the river Spey which moved at high speed on our right before giving way to forests. The track is well-trodden and flat but can be muddy if there has been rainfall.

View of River Spey and Spey Viaduct.
A glimpse of Spey Viaduct spanning the Spey.
 
Viaduct walk.
The start of the viaduct walk.
 
Spey River a wildlife haven.
The Spey river flows past at great speed.
 
Path to Spey Viaduct.
A well trodden path to the viaduct.
 
My family visiting Spey Bay.
The ladies making their way to the viaduct.
 
The River Spey.
The speed of the water is quite scary.
 
Spey River.
An ideal place to photograph waterfowl.
 
Walking at Spey Bay.
Following the path to Spey Viaduct.
 
A beautiful countryside walk.
A great place to walk, surrounded by stunning countryside.
 
Enjoy beautiful walks at Spey Bay.
You soon lose sight of the River Spey, but will reconnect with it at the viaduct.

Eventually, we arrived at a sign showing a right turn to Garmouth; this is the path to take to the viaduct. The track here is very straight as it was part of the old railway line; you can see all the way through to the other side of the bridge and to infinity.

Walking and cycling routes signage.
Turn right to Garmouth to find the viaduct. Part of the famous Speyside Way walking route.
 
Path to the viaduct.
The long straight path to Spey Viaduct and Garmouth.

The bridge itself is fascinating and gives a wonderful insight into the fantastic engineers of the late 1800s. Please find out more about the Spey Viaduct in my dedicated article. We walked the length of the bridge, wary of cyclists coming in both directions, and then, at the far side, we took a path to an area under the bridge.

Walking across Spey Viaduct.
Crossing Spey Viaduct.
 
Views of the Spey River.
Excellent views of the River Spey from the viaduct.
 
Beams of the bridge.
The bridge is a great place for photography.
 
Spey River from viaduct.
Another view of the Spey from the viaduct.
 
Spey Viaduct view.
The view pinches down to a single point along the old railway.
 
Side view below the viaduct.
Below the viaduct.
 
Below Spey Viaduct.
Directly below Spey Viaduct.
 
Garmouth Golf Course
A glimpse of Garmouth Golf Course.
 
Heading home over the viaduct.
Heading back the way we came across the viaduct.
 
View of Spey Viaduct from the shore of the River Spey.
The viaduct seen from the banks of the River Spey.

We retraced our steps back over the bridge and followed the path back to the car park.

WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre

WDC stands for "Whale and Dolphin Conservation", and the visitor centre at Spey Bay is an excellent place to learn about bottlenose dolphins and whales in the Moray Firth/North Sea, just a stone's throw from the centre.

There is a small interactive exhibition area at the centre and guides available for questions. A talk showing bones and skulls from dolphins is available each weekend day at 2 pm, no booking is required. Free admission at the visitor centre.

Welcome sign for the Scottish Dolphin Centre.
Signage for the dolphin centre.
 
Scottish Dolphin Centre. Dolphin conservation society/
Scottish Dolphin Centre entrance.
 
Rear of the wildlife centre.
The back of the visitor centre looking towards the Spey.
 
Spey Bay toilets.
The toilets to the rear of the building.

Tugnet Ice House tour

Directly across from the visitor centre is Scotland's largest surviving icehouse, once used to store ice for packing salmon from the nearby Spey Fishery. Tugnet Ice House dates from 1830, and the dolphin centre offers tours for up to 10 people, which must be booked in advance. This is a brilliant way to learn more about Spey Bay's fishing heritage.

Many dolphin spotters use the elevated position of the ice house to set up scopes looking out to sea, eager for a glimpse of these amazing marine animals.

Tugnet Ice House, part of the former fishing station.
Tugnet Ice House
 
Tugnet Murals. WDCS Moray Firth Wildlife Centre.
Tugnet Sculpture Project designed by 2nd year high school students in the early 90s.
 
Tugnet Osprey Sculpture
Bronze Scultpure by David Annand of an Osprey hunting.

Visitor Centre Cafe

We didn't try the cafe on this visit, but the menu board was available outside with many lovely-sounding items. It seemed expensive ish, but a great selection was available, the food looked high quality, and the smell of nice coffee filled the air. Vegan options are also on the menu, including a hummus and roast pepper sandwich.

Cafe menu. Delicious home cooked food.
The menu displayed outside the cafe.
 

Gift Shop

A lovely gift shop is located within the main building and has a variety of great items, including:

  • Dolphin and whale-themed items.

  • Placemats made from recycled EVA plastics.

  • Bath & body items.

  • Toys and children's books.

How to get to Spey Bay

Here are some directions for Spey Bay.

From the A96:

  1. When coming from the west and travelling on the A96, cross the River Spey road bridge between Mosstodloch and Fochabers.

  2. On the first roundabout before Fochabers turn left down the B9104.

  3. Stay on the B9104, passing through Bogmoor.

  4. You will see a brown tourist sign with a blue anchor marked Spey Bay; keep going straight ahead.

  5. The road curves round to the left, and you will see the dolphin centre.

From the A98:

  1. From the east on the A98, turn right after The Mill House Hotel.

  2. Continue along this road until you reach a crossroads. Continue straight ahead along Beaufighter Road.

  3. Stay on Beaufighter Road, passing through the small village of Nether Dallachy.

  4. Turn right onto the B9104 and continue to the end of this road to the Spey Bay car park.

From Portgordon / Buckie:

  1. Leave Portgordon via Stewart Street, and follow this road for some distance.

  2. You will reach the crossroads here; take a right along Beaufighter Road; the sign is marked "Coastal Trail West".

  3. Follow step 3 above on "From the A98".

Nearest towns: Elgin, Portgordon, Fochabers.
OS grid ref: NJ325657.
What3words: ///bordering.third.aquatics
Google maps location.

FAQs on Spey Bay

Here are a few frequently asked questions on Spey Bay:

Is it possible to see dolphins at Spey Bay?

Yes, seeing bottlenose dolphins is possible, but you aren't guaranteed to see them if you visit. If you do see them count yourself very lucky!

Is Spey Bay a good place for wildlife watching?

Yes, Spey Bay is an excellent place for wildlife watching. In addition to bottlenose dolphins, often seen in the Moray Firth, the area is home to various bird species, including ospreys, red kites, and kingfishers.

Where is a good place to stay near Spey Bay?

The Mill House Hotel would be the perfect place to stay in the Spey Bay area. Located directly on the A98, it's the ideal base to visit attractions in the local area. The food is excellent too!

Spey Bay toilets.
The Mill House Hotel, great food and accommodation.

When is the Scottish Dolphin Centre open?

Thursday – Monday, 10:30 am to 4 pm (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays).

Are toilets available at the Scottish Dolphin Centre?

Yes, the toilets are accessed from the outside to the far side of the building.

Is Spey Bay accessible for disabled people?

It's reasonably good, the dolphin centre, gift shop, cafe, and toilets are all disabled-friendly, but there is no way to get to the beach from the car park via wheelchair. The entire beach is comprised of bare shingle. However, the raised grass area next to the ice house makes for a great viewpoint to look out to sea for dolphin spotting.

What else can I do near Spey Bay?

  • Further east is the town of Portgordon; if you love wildlife, this is one of the best places to see seals in Scotland.

  • A walk up the Bin of Cullen is a must while in east Moray.

  • Bow Fiddle Rock, an amazing geological rock formation, can be seen in Portknockie to the east.

  • Boyne Castle and Findlater Castle are fantastic ruins to explore even further to the east.

  • Macduff Aquarium is the perfect place to learn more about the North Sea's aquatic life.

  • Garmouth Golf Club is available to the west of the Spey, and Spey Bay Golf Club is a short distance to the east.

Bin of Cullen view.
View from the top of the Bin of Cullen. The inlet featured is Spey Bay.

Spey Bay Videos

Here is a selection of videos from our visit to Spey Bay.

Spey Bay beach with the Bin of Cullen in the background.
 
The shingle beach at Spey Bay.
 
Spey Bay Beach.
 
The mouth of the River Spey.
 
On the banks of the River Spey.
 
Below Spey Viaduct.
 
Walking over Spey Viaduct.
 
A view of the Spey from the viaduct.
 
Video of the viaduct from the banks of the Spey.

Key information on Spey Bay

  • There is a spacious car park.

  • Epic beach with beautiful walks.

  • The dolphin conservation centre has a brilliant cafe.

  • Spey Bay Golf Course (designed by the legendary Ben Sayers) is a short distance from the beach.

  • A 20-minute walk south will take you to Spey Viaduct.

  • It's possible to see seals, dolphins and many forms of bird life.

Conclusion

If you're in east Moray, then a trip to Spey Bay, the dolphin centre and a walk to Spey Viaduct makes for a fantastic day out.

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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Comments:


Dian Ferguson
9th of August 2023 @ 15:03:11

Spey Bay is a favourite pace to visit and try and catch sight of the Dolphins. in winter its a good place to collect driftwood , I like it around my garden. The walk to the viaduct is easy and I like your videos of this part of the journey.

Barbara Ross
8th of August 2023 @ 14:34:03

Love Speybay when I was wee our Sunday school picnic was in Garmouth and we went by train over that bridge went there not so long ago with my 2 daughters and they informed me they used to climb up and walk over the metal top nearly had a fit as I hate heights they'd gone there on there bikes unbeknown to me 😂

Margaret Lawson
7th of August 2023 @ 21:28:42

Enjoyed your descriptions of this lovely outing and have visited and walked some of the routes.Thank you

Sandra
7th of August 2023 @ 18:35:27

I live in Spey Bay and wish to say how well and accurate you have portrayed this beautiful area of Scotland. Happy travels!

Paula
7th of August 2023 @ 18:26:39

Have done the dolphin centre but not the viaduct but will follow your directions next time I go to spey Bay thanks