The River Spey descent is one of the country’s classic canoe journeys. Starting in the heart of the Highlands and the Cairngorm National Park, the river flows though tranquil countryside and exhilarating rapids in equal measure, before ending up in the spectacular Spey Bay and the North Sea.
Set amongst stunningly forested countryside, the Spey Valley is famous for it’s malt whisky distilleries and the river is one of the worlds top salmon fishing grounds. The wildlife that surrounds the river thrives in the unspoilt and peaceful environment, enabling you to see a wide variety of animals as you drift past on the rivers gentle current. And camping out alongside the river means that you can sit on an evening and soak in the landscape around you, with a wee dram of some of the area’s finest in your hands.
The trip is designed to enable you to build your skills and confidence through experience as the days go on, starting on flat gentle moving water and working up to grade 2 rapids in the second half.
Loch Inch – Aviemore
The trip starts on Loch Insh with an opportunity to get to know your paddling partner and the rest of the group while we go over some of the basic paddle skills needed for the trip. After this we start down the river itself for the first leg into Aviemore. The night is spent in Aviemore hostel or B&B accommodation to give you the chance to make sure you have everything prepared for the trip and to make any last-minute trips to the supermarket or shops. For the rest of the trip we will be camping out at wild or basic campsites by the river.
Aviemore – Boat of Balliefurth
A longer flatter day out from Aviemore gives time to develop the skills learnt on the first day as the river winds its way through the beautiful landscape. From the river, you can catch glimpses of the wildlife that inhabits it, with salmon, ospreys, kingfishers and otters all regular sights on the trip. And up above the river, hang the stunning Cairngorm mountains.
Boat of Balliefurth – Blacksboat
Today is the start of the rapids in the river, with the level gradually building up to grade 2, giving you the chance to build your confidence with each successive one for the second half of the trip, until you can navigate the white water with ease. This stretch of the river also sees the start of the distilleries lining the river that the area is famed for. The day ends with “The Washing Machine”, one of the most enjoyable rapids on the trip.
Blacksboat – Craigellachie
We travel through the most paddled section of the river, with lots of exciting rapids such as Knockando making it popular for paddlers looking for white water in the Highlands. Now deep in the heart of malt whisky country we’ll pass many places and factories connected with Scottish drink and food, including Glen Fiddich, Aberlour and Walkers shortbread. To celebrate the last night of the trip you can pop into the Highlander Inn in Craigellachie, famous for its selection of malts and the quality of food you can enjoy with it; a fitting indulgence to reward yourself for your exertions over the trip!
Craigellachie – Spey Bay
The final stretch of the river down to Spey Bay features some final grade 2 rapids as it picks up speed on it’s final miles down to the sea. Through Fochabers across a coastal plain and on into Spey Bay, the end of our journey. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to stand on the shoreline by the Scottish Dolphin Centre and look out to see and spot some of the local dolphin residents.
To ensure you get the most out of your activity, we ask that participants meet some minimum abilities.
- Some canoe experience will help you to get the most out of the trip. If you think you might need a bit more experience before your trip, then we can provide short canoe skills courses.
- Fitness for 5 days of paddling.
If you have any questions, please get in touch. We are usually able to accommodate a diverse range of special requirements.
For introductory activities, we provide all the activity and safety equipment you need. With more advanced courses you may be expected to have some of your own personal equipment; see the Kit List for information. Whether it’s the latest gear, great instruction or comfy accommodation, we aim to provide you with the best we can.
- Canoes & Paddles
- Buoyancy Aids & Waterproof Cags
- Day Drybags
- All Safety Equipment
- Storage Barrels / Large Drybags
- Boat Trolleys
- 2-3 Person Tents
- Sleeping Mats
- Stove & Pans (Trangias)
As well as the activity equipment, you can rest assured that our experienced instructors carry all the necessary group safety equipment, and are covered by a comprehensive insurance policy.
Here is a quick guide to what you need to bring with you for the activity. A full kit list is included with your information pack provided after booking.
- Trainers For Getting Wet (Lace Up Type)
- Warm Layers (3 Sets)
- Warm Outer Layers (For Evenings)
- 2-3 Season Sleeping Bag (We can Provide These For You At Cost Price)
- Snacks & Drinks
- Personal Overnight Supplies
If you are struggling with any specialist equipment, then please get in touch, and we may be able to assist.