United Kingdom

Canoe the Scottish Highlands (River Spey)

11

Discover Scotland's wild landscapes, on this epic 4-day canoe trip through Scotland's largest national park.

Itinerary

Day 1: Aviemore - Boat of Balliefurth

You'll meet your guide at the Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore for 9:30am. The journey starts with some basic skills to gain confidence in your canoes, before making your way through the upper reaches of the River Spey.

In the afternoon we'll reach your first remote camping spot at Balliefurth, with plenty of time to take in the scenery and enjoy dinner served up by your guides. All food and accommodation (camping) is included on this trip.

image_TXBCAYRANC4PTKVK
image_4SDRVHVB6YFKPQDS
image_8EVL74LUL5FWMWBQ
Day 2: Boat of Balliefurth - Ballindalloch

In the morning we'll have a hearty breakfast and then get canoe down through Grantown. The water is quite fast-moving at this point which means you don't have to paddle as much, and it also helps build up your moving water skills. The afternoon is spent paddling through fantastic scenery all the way to the next camp at Ballindalloch.

image_LJQAYL2Q59PBY5TV
image_6KJW82VUW4Y3AGM3
Day 3: Ballindalloch - Craigellachie

Today is the most exciting day, with some of the best stretches of the river along the way. After a fun morning, you'll head down to Craigellachie where you can get some food and visit the local whisky bar if you like.

image_X36KSXDQEAZARAVH
Day 4: Craigellachie - Spey Bay

The North Sea is in sight, and you'll start to notice the scenery changing to low-lying mountains. Tasting the salt in the air you'll head towards Spey Bay. We normally have a celebratory meal, before transferring you back to the start of the trip (Aviemore).

image_E73QR6J6XSRRYPNA
image_J8T9BQ7HQV9AXBSP
Have a question?

If you have any questions about this trip or want to speak with an expert, get in touch.

We're ready to help.

Team Images
Team Images
Team Images

Rated 5.0

11 verified reviews

Daniel
Daniel

(Sep 2023)

Flawlessly run trip. Stephen was a great instructor and guide providing everything required. Would highly recommend Scottish Rock and Water and look forward to using them again.

Philip
Philip

(Sep 2023)

1st Class open canoe trip down the Spey. Great mix of adventure, jeopardy and relaxation. Guided by Stephen and taxied by Rosie. As a first time open canoe paddler it was a pleasure to draw on Stephen’s experience, passion and knowledge of Scotland’s wild places for a few days. Food, company and hospitality all excellent and would highly recommend to anyone thinking about this to use these guys.

Maria
Maria

(Aug 2023)

We had a great time canoeing down the river spey, our guide Rory was fantastic, he cooked us delicious meals every night, gave great tuition for canoeing skills, calming presence and patient with canoe newbies! Stephen had made flapjacks and a curry for us to enjoy on the trip, which we really appreciated! Would defiantly recommend to anyone who wants an adventure in the highlands! We saw lots of birds, herons catching fish, and even a seal as we pulled into spey bay, which was a lovely way to finish! Thankyou Rory and Stephen :)

John
John

(Aug 2023)

An excellent 4 days paddling the River Spey with Rory. The whole event was well organised and Rory was a very knowledgeable and capable guide, knowing the river very well. His cooking skills and meal choices were also very good, definitely did not go hungry. The scenery was exceptional and wildlife seen very good, 2 Ospreys included. The canoes and kit provided were also very good.

Graham
Graham

(Aug 2023)

Most memorable was successfully negotiating ‘The Washing Machine’ & ‘Nockando’ rapids without capsizing. Our guide Rory was exceptional and a top class cook. Thanks to him for a memorable trip down the Spey and to Stephen McCall for collecting us from Spey Bay at the end. Highly recommended!

FAQs

You don't need any existing experience for this trip, but you do need to be keen for adventure and have a good base level of fitness. This means you'll want to be doing sport/jogging/exercise a few times a week in the run-up to your trip.

The river has some white-water sections, but never harder than grade II (suitable for beginners).

The first day of the trip is also skills-focused and your guides will show you how to paddle efficiently, if you haven't done it already.

You'll either be in a 2 or 3 person tent, and share with 1 other.  

Yes, we generally eat out on the last evening at the small village of Craigellachie

Included

  • Highly experienced & qualified guide
  • On-course transport
  • Canoes, paddles & buoyancy aids
  • Waterproof storage, 60ltr barrels per person
  • Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinners
  • Camping stoves, tea, coffee
  • Inflatable camping mats
  • Tents 2 or 3 person
  • Safety equipment
  • Photos from your adventure 

Excluded

  • Sleeping bag
  • Personal spending money for drinks and snacks
  • Appropriate clothing  

8 people in tandem boats, so 2 people per boat.

There are several designated "Wild Camping" locations along the way where you'll camp. Most have basic toilets.

Most people take the train to Aviemore station - it's well connected (including to London).

You can also drive and park in the town.

At the end of the trip you'll be dropped back in Aviemore (the transfer is included in the price).

The total distance is 98km.

Each day you will paddle for up to 6 hours at a moderate pace, with plenty of breaks along the way.  

  • Walking trousers (synthetic materials; jeans or similar are not suitable)
  • Spare shoes to get wet plus dry shoes for camp
  • Quality, breathable waterproof jacket and trousers. We recommend Gore-tex or similar
  • Spare insulating layer
  • Hat & gloves
  • Warm socks
  • Sleeping bag, 3 season
  • Spare set of clothes x 2 full sets
  • Some large zip-lock bags to keep your clothes and equipment organised 
  • Head torch, plus spare batteries
  • Water bottle or flask
  • Sunglasses and sun cream (you just never know!) Personal medications 

The guides will provide barrels that have seals to keep the quipment dry. We do advise to 'double bag' items such as sleeping bags and spare clothes as a precation

We provide a shuttle in our modern, 9 seater minibus which will be at the end point for us finishing our trip.

Sometimes the weather can deem an activity unfeasible for a set period of time. If this is the case, then your guide will offer an appropriate alternative. Examples are as follows:

- Canoe a different section of water.

- Start at a diffrent location to allow for a safer journey iof the water levels are high.

Your head guide is Stephen

All trips on Skyhook are run by small, hand-picked local guiding companies. For this trip your guides run Scottish Rock & Water, based in Newtonmore.

By booking through Skyhook you'll be joining a small-group trip. This can make it nice and sociable (you'll be added to a group chat after booking), and guarantees great value for money!

Stephen