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Open Canoeing – River Spey Descent

  • 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
  • 3 nights wild camping (2 people per tent)
  • Most meals, from lunch on day of arrival through to lunch on day of departure. Dinner on the first night is NOT included. (Meals included indicated as B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All transport, starting and finishing in Aviemore
  • The services of at least one experienced and knowledgeable canoe guide / driver throughout your trip.
  • All group equipment including tents, group safety equipment and cooking / eating equipment and utensils. Please note that sleeping bags are not included but are available for hire.
  • All specialist open canoe equipment, including canoes and buoyancy aids.

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.



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.

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.

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:


Trip Details

Join us for a classic Scottish canoeing trip down the River Spey, as we paddle through Speyside in the scenic North East Highlands.

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

The canoeing is easy at first but 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 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.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1 – Canoeing near Aviemore

This morning you meet your guide and the rest of the group at the train station in Aviemore. After introductions and a welcome brief you will transfer a short distance to one of the beautiful lochs in the Cairngorms National Park. Today you will enjoy a loch paddle to refresh your canoe strokes and get warmed up for the journey that starts tomorrow. We spend our first night at a comfortable accommodation in Aviemore. (L)

Day 2 – The expedition begins!

This morning we load the boats with everything we need for four days on the river. We cast off down the gently moving water learning a few paddle strokes as 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 this evening. (B, L, D)

Day 3 –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 4 – 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 5– 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)

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

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Prices and Dates

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2019 Trip Dates

Trip Date
Trip Status
3rd May - 7th May 2019
2 place(s) left
27th Jun - 1st Jul 2019
7 place(s) left
11th Jul - 15th Jul 2019
8 place(s) left
8th Aug - 12th Aug 2019
8 place(s) left
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Trip Reviews

Every client receives a feedback survey when they return from their guided, self guided or tailor made holiday with us.

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Rated 4.93 out of 5 based on 55 review(s) of Open Canoeing – River Spey Descent

5 star 52

4 star 2

3 star 1

2 star 0

1 star 0

by Amy Thomson 26/09/2018

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

4Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

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

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by Kevin White 20/09/2018

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Great trip with great guides

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by Nick Booth 20/09/2018

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

I would thoroughly recommend the Open Canoeing on the River Spey.

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by Rachel Cousins 23/05/2018

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Brilliant, fantastic, would love to do it again! Perfect trip with a great group of people, so well organised, even had plentiful sunshine and Ospreys in Spey Bay!

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Price from: £865

Next trip: 3rd May

Duration: 4 night(s)

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Region: Cairngorms and Central Highlands

Comfort: Wilderness Camping

Difficulty: 5

55 review(s)

Trip Photos

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