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Selected Trips


    Selected Trips

      Open Canoeing
      River Spey Descent

      57 review(s)

      Next Trip(s): 1st May | 3rd Jul Duration: 3 night(s)

      From £585 View Prices & Departures

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      Travel Planning and Advice

      Trip Details & Highlights

      Trip created by Stevie Christie
      View Stevie's Profile

      Region: Cairngorms and Central Highlands
      Trip Type: Canoeing
      Comfort: Wilderness Camping
      Max Group Size: 8
      Confirmed: When 2 Traveller(s) Book
      Deposit From N/A £146.25


      All you need to know about your trip, this essential document is a must for all adventures.

      Download Itinerary

      Trip Details

      Join us for an open canoeing expedition as we paddle through Speyside in the scenic North East Highlands.

      This classic Scottish river trip descends the famous River Spey passing by pine forests, heather-covered hills and Scotland’s most celebrated whisky region.

      Starting our journey on a gentle section of the river we’ll practice different strokes and techniques as we go. The canoeing becomes more challenging as we travel downstream through several fun and exciting rapids. It is not just the character of the river which changes – the pine forests on the riverbanks take on a new character with each season.

      These forests are home to a diverse range of wildlife including red deer and capercaillie, and there’s always the chance of spotting golden eagles and other large birds of prey overhead. Adventurous days on the river will be balanced by tranquil nights in the campsites where we prepare tasty meals each evening leaving you ready for the challenges of the next day.

      This trip is suitable for people with at least 2 days of previous canoeing experience since you will be required to steer on the river right from the start.

      Trip Highlights

      • Paddle through tranquil pine forests and Scotland's most famous whisky region as you journey the length of the River Spey.
      • Experience a diverse range of river conditions, from gentle meanders to more challenging rapids towards the end of the trip.
      • Enjoy a true wilderness experience camping under the stars.

      Day by Day Itinerary

      Day 1 – Boat of Garten to Boat of Balliefurth

      Our guide meets you at the railway station in Aviemore and we transfer to our put-in point a short distance away. We will spend some time familiarising ourselves with the moving water environment before setting off on our journey. We move north-east, passing the village of Boat of Garten and the Abernethy Forest. Looking back, there are superb views of the Cairngorms Plateau. We camp on the edge of the forest and if we are lucky we might spy some red squirrels in the trees. (L, D)

      Day 2 – Boat of Balliefurth to Blacksboat

      Following breakfast, we’ll paddle into the heart of malt whisky country. As we reach the edge of Grantown-on-Spey we’ll pass under a couple of road bridges. There is time to work on the skills that will be essential when negotiating the rapids that lie ahead in the second half of the journey. We’ll put these skills to use at the end of the day with a trip through the short but exciting rapid known as the ‘Washing Machine’ before we reach our next camp. (B, L, D)

      Day 3 – Blacksboat to Craigellachie

      Our moving water skills are tested today as we meet unforgettable rapids such as the Station Pool of Knockando, and numerous shorter rapids. We’ll also pass by a few small villages (most of which have a whisky distillery!) before finishing close to the village of Craigellachie near the mouth of the River Fiddich. (B, L, D)

      Day 4 – Craigellachie to Spey Bay

      We canoe along the final stretch of the Spey, where the valley widens as we approach the sea. We will put our new skills to good use on this stretch where the Spey twists its way through rolling rural farmland. We pass many beautiful pools and small islands before passing under a road bridge at Fochabers, where the coastal plain emerges and we travel alongside gravel banks before reaching our journey’s end at Spey Bay. We transfer back to Aviemore, through the Spey Valley, for the end of the trip. (B, L)

      Download Detailed Itinerary

      River Spey Descent

      To download a PDF copy of our Trip Itinerary, containing full details about this holiday, please complete the form below:

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      What's Included

      Accommodation - Accommodation in carefully selected guest houses and hotels Read More

      On this trip, we wild camp beside the river each night. We provide tents and also carry a base camp tipi, which means that we can all gather together for dinner and a hot drink even if the weather is inclement. If you require a single tent we are happy to provide this, but otherwise, we do ask that those who are happy to share a tent with other travellers do so. This helps to keep our camp size small, giving us more options of where to pitch and reducing our environmental impact on these precious places

      Meals - Meals Info (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner) Read More

      Great food is essential to all our trips and expeditions are no different. While the guide will co-ordinate the cooking and help out, everyone is asked to lend a hand as this ensures the best meals in the shortest possible time after what are often long days. We will carry plenty of food to cater a varied and satisfying menu throughout the trip, and some of these may even be prepared on an open fire. Dietary requirements can still be catered for but please ensure we know at the time of booking.

      Travel - All transport throughout the trip Read More

      You will be met by your Wilderness Scotland Guide at Aviemore Railway Station at 10:00am on Day 1 of your trip. You will be returned to Aviemore station for 4:00pm on the final day of the trip.

      For advice on getting to and from Scotland please our travel advice page on our website: www.wildernessscotland.com/faq/travel-to-scotland/

      Trip Dates & Prices

      Trip Dates for 2021 Availability Status Price Book
      1st May - 4th May 2021 5 place(s) left CONFIRMED £585 Book Now
      3rd Jul - 6th Jul 2021 8 place(s) left UNCONFIRMED £585 Book Now
      11th Sep - 14th Sep 2021 8 place(s) left UNCONFIRMED £585 Book Now

      Make This Trip Private

      Sometimes it's nice to get family and friends together and travel privately for some quality time. This means you benefit from all the features of the group departure, including hand-picked accommodation and expert local guides and we'll take care of it all. Then you can make your choice of departures dates and we'll get back to you to finalise the details.

      Speak to an Expert

      Rachael is a true gem and we regularly receive feedback thanking her for designing inspiring itineraries and for being such a pleasure to chat to. In many cases the people Rachael designs tailor-made trips for, actually become friends and she’s had more than one invite to far off lands as a result. Rachael believes in only the highest levels of customer experience and service.

      - Rachael Gavan

      Ask Rachael a Question

      Difficulty Grades Explained

      Blue Graded Open Canoeing Holidays 4-6

      Great Glen

      This Blue graded canoeing trip is suitable for people with no previous canoeing experience, but a good level of fitness is required. We will be paddling for up to 7 hours each day on flat water lochs and canals, however in windy conditions it will be challenging and we will encounter small waves on the larger lochs.

      River Spey Descent

      This Blue graded canoeing trip is only suitable for people with some previous canoeing experience and a good level of fitness. Since we are paddling on moving river waters, including several more exciting rapids (up to Grade 2) competence steering the canoe is an essential skill from the beginning. You can expect up to 7 hours of paddling a day plus breaks.

      Compare open canoeing grades

      Trip Reviews

      Rated 4.93 out of 5 based on 57 review(s) of Open Canoeing – River Spey Descent


      Every client receives a feedback survey when they return from their guided, self guided or tailor made holiday with us. Once completed the review is published on our website just as soon as our database updates. The little touches and details are important to us and where issues are raised we make positive changes to our trips to improve your experience.

      That’s why we read each of our client’s reviews and although we don’t respond to all of them, if it’s glowing feedback then we get the satisfaction of helping to make your holidays truly memorable.


      Helen Littlejohn

      Reviewed on 08/09/2020

      Age: 50 - 60
      Country: United Kingdom
      Trip Date: 31/08/2020
      Trips Taken: 1

      The Bottom Line

      The Bottom Line

      If you want to canoe the Spey, then Wilderness Scotland is the company to go with. Well planned itinerary, excellent kit, superb food and professional guides and organised back office staff. Thanks for a great week!


      David Anderson

      Reviewed on 14/05/2019

      Age: 50 - 60
      Country: United Kingdom
      Trip Date: 03/05/2019
      Trips Taken: 5

      The Bottom Line

      The Bottom Line

      A safe but exhilarating journey, skilfully guided, down a unique and extremely beautiful river.


      Amy Thomson

      Reviewed on 26/09/2018

      Age: 40 - 50
      Country: United Kingdom
      Trip Date: 14/09/2018
      Trips Taken: 1

      The Bottom Line

      The Bottom Line

      Awesome! I'm already planning next year's holiday!

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