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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)
  • All meals, from lunch on day of arrival through to lunch on day of departure (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.

 

ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS

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.

ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE
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/

 

Customer Kudos

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.

5 star 44

4 star 2

3 star 1

2 star 0

1 star 0

by Larissa Donahue 30/09/2017

4Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

4Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
There were a couple email exchanges I had with people where I got different information each time, like the trip documents said I could store my bag in the van, and then I was told I couldn't. Nothing that affected the overall trip, just required a few extra steps to set right during the planning process.
Trip Comments
The highlight for me was definitely each night in the tent as we all warmed up, shared some food and whisky, and gave each other a hard time! Really lovely bunch of people, many fond memories. There was also an impromptu yoga session led by myself that was pretty hilarious.
Accommodation and Food
I had one of the small tents two of the nights, and there was a hole in it. I patched it with tape so the slugs couldn't get in the second night, but for someone less used to tent camping it might have been an issue. ;) The food was great and my only quibble is that I would have appreciated a little more protein. I know from my own expeditions it's a cost thing, but a few chickpeas or lentils in the curry or TVP in the spagbol would be pretty easy inclusions I think. I thought the portion sizes were great and the lunch selections were always perfect picnic fare.
Your Guide
Grant, Ray, and Alex were fun, professional, and knowledgeable. They were wonderful about seeing to everybody's comfort and all easy to talk to. I felt like we were friends very early in, which makes it an enjoyable trip. I also cannot say enough about their calm handling of the tip ins that happened in our group. The first few were (I think) pretty routine, but that doesn't lessen the value of having good guides. They were always very clear about how they would get the boats and it was just our job to be safe, and all three were great about checking in with everyone afterwards on if they were alright, warm enough, etc. My canoe partner and I had a scary tip the last day where we got swept into a tree on the bank, and the guides were world class. Everyone stayed calm, communicated well, performed their role, kept the rest of the group safe, and they all touched base with Jim and I about how we felt too. It's easy in situations like that to focus so much on the mechanics of getting the boat back, making sure people are out of the elements as much as possible, etc., and forget that the customers might be scared, but the guys were very compassionate without making me feel coddled. I have only good things to say about their teamwork and I'd recommend them any day!
The Bottom Line
I'd book with Wilderness Scotland again any day! Knowledgeable guides, a great group, and such beautiful country!

by Gloria Ziebart 21/09/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

4Accommodation and Food

4Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
I was impressed by the team of guides (very professional) who worked well to recover a pair of canoeists under unexpected wild conditions.
I like the quality of the canoes and tents.
I appreciated the good food that was cooked and being told where it came from.
I would of appreciated a soft drink alternative to the wines and coffee,
I didn't like the third walk to the third campsight as it involved carrying what was heavy gear over a 300m distance, I struggled with this after a long day paddling.
Trip Comments
None
Accommodation and Food
I think you are doing well.
Your Guide
None
The Bottom Line
I was able to learn a lot from the Team on how to paddle in white water. They took time to explain how the water works and techniques to use.

by James Lamond 15/09/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
Trip Comments
4 day trip on the Spey was both challenging and really enjoyable with a great team of expert guides who were also goof guys!
Accommodation and Food
Given the constraints imposed, the food was well thought out and delivered to a surprisingly high standard
Your Guide
Could not praise them highly enough, Alex and Ray provided great support to Lead Guide Grant who was excellent in all respects - would be happy to share more of the outdoors with this team.
The Bottom Line
A hugely enjoyable trip that fully met our high expectations

by Dan Edwards 14/09/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

4Trip Comments

4Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
All good...
Trip Comments
The guides skills and knowledge made for an enjoyable trip.
Accommodation and Food
Food - Pretty good considering the limited resources available while camping.
Wild Camping - In my opinion the locations were not good enough to endure camping
Your Guide
Grant, Alex and Ray were awesome. Friendly, knowledgeable, helpful and patient. They made the trip what it was.
The Bottom Line
Canoeing the Spey was a great introduction to paddle sports for me. The guides (Grant, Alex and Ray) made us feel at home in the water from the start and looked after us well throughout the trip. The wild camping is not for everyone and putting a tent up in the rain after a day on the river requires a special sense of humour!

by Richard Tadman 14/09/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

4Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
The team on the trip were great. - professional and approachable. The office team were helpful and friendly when I called.
Trip Comments
The Spey is stunning - whether it rains or shines, the canoeing is fun and relaxing and challenging all at the same time. The rapids descents were well handled by the guides.
Accommodation and Food
Food is well prepared in the limited circumstances and there is plenty of it.
One gripe was that there were 6 x 2-man tents and 2 x 1-person tents so there was a bit of a scrum to grab the larger ones. The 1-man tents were just too small. All tents should be the same - we all paid the same?
Your Guide
All three guides were top people. Grant can talk for the talk Olympics - but this is really good as his knowledge and experience is worth listening to. He was a good leader. There was one instance where a canoe got stuck under a tree in fast water, and the situation was clearly risky for one of the participants. Grant was into action in a flash, organising Ray and Alex and at no time did we feel that the situation wasn't being handled in the best way . His coaching on paddle skills was clear. Ray looked after Dick, our Octogenarian in a calm, dignified way and Alex was always helpful, smiling and looked after Gloria, the other solo traveler as well as being the group chef.
The Bottom Line
The Spey canoeing trip is highly recommended if you want to experience a good mixed level of canoeing skills on a beautiful river. The 4 days is 'just about right' - it will not disappoint.

by Simon Cain 27/07/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
Great expedition where camaraderie and banter was quickly generated between all the paddlers - both customers and staff. Amazing food (from local producers), magically generated from barrels and dry bags split up between cnaoes, prepared and served up in the communal teepee mess tent. The guidance was superlative, no mishaps or turtle turns, excellent lines avoiding hazards - thoroughly enjoyable and thoroughly recommended. Simon Cain
Trip Comments
Great expedition where camaraderie and banter was quickly generated between all the paddlers - both customers and staff. Amazing food (from local producers), magically generated from barrels and dry bags split up between cnaoes, prepared and served up in the communal teepee mess tent. The guidance was superlative, no mishaps or turtle turns, excellent lines avoiding hazards - thoroughly enjoyable and thoroughly recommended. Spotted otter tracks on a sand bar which generated great scepticism among the comarades - soon 'scotched' when that evening the otter was spotted from the mess tent. Lots of large leaping Salmon seen tantalisingly close to the striving fly fiishermen. Simon Cain
Accommodation and Food
Amazing food (from local producers), magically generated from barrels and dry bags split up between cnaoes, prepared and served up in the communal teepee mess tent.
Your Guide
very emphathetic and professional. Confidence inspiring
The Bottom Line
Greatly enjoyed and a unique experience with a lot of the drudgery of an expedition taken off one's shoulders leaving the pleasurable bits to savour.

by James Clarke 18/07/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
thank you so much for holding my deposit over from last year when I was not fit enough due to a stroke to go, you are a wonderful company
Trip Comments
going through the washing machine rapid
Accommodation and Food
tents were nice
Your Guide
Mark and Alex were very helpful at all times
The Bottom Line
BRILLIANT

by Gary Calland 08/07/2017

4Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
Trip Comments
Accommodation and Food
Your Guide
The Bottom Line

by Gwendolyn Bluck 06/07/2017

3Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
The links sent regarding equipment etc 'timed out' - it would have been better not to have to chase up having the essential info resent. The content when it was resent was excellent.
Trip Comments
Accommodation and Food
Your Guide
Mark and Alex were superb guides, fun and educational and supported the whole group through their expedition.
The Bottom Line
I've already posted the link on Facebook and rd ommended it to friends!

by Neil Fatharly 06/07/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
Responsiveness, attention to detail and willingness to help
Trip Comments
Best guided tour I have ever been on - our guides Mark and Alex were fantastic, taking people with different skill levels and giving an overall great experience for all concerned. Always very safety conscious and going the mile to make the experience special - worth every penny !
Accommodation and Food
Tents and equipment more than adequate - quality of food cooked and supplied on the expedition way above expectations.
Your Guide
Fantastic - guides were more than qualified to manage any situation. Always providing a degree of self confidence that helped the rest of the group through a number of the more difficult rapids. Shared experiences and techniques that was beyond expectations - both were a credit to the company.
The Bottom Line
Fantastic time, best guides I have ever worked with, spectacular scenery, great come - I will definitely be back.

Prices and Departures

44 people viewed this trip in the last week

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2018 Trip Dates

Trip Date
Price
Availability
Trip Status
 
4th May - 7th May 2018
£625
1 place(s) left
29th Jun - 2nd Jul 2018
£625
8 place(s) left
14th Sep - 17th Sep 2018
£655
6 place(s) left
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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 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.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1 – The expedition begins!
Our canoe guide meets you at the railway station in Aviemore and we transfer to our put-in point, a short distance away. We cast off down the gently moving water learning a few paddle strokes as we journey down the river to our first night’s camp. (L, D)

Day 2 –Boat of Balliefurth to Blacksboat
Following breakfast, we paddle into the heart of malt whisky country. There is time to work on the open canoe skills which will be essential for negotiating the rapids which lie ahead in the second half of the journey. Indeed, the day finishes with a trip through the short rapid known as the ‘Washing Machine’ before we reach our next camp. (B, L, D)

Day 3 – Blacksboat to Craigellachie
Our rapid-running skills are tested to the full as we meet unforgettable rapids such as the Station Pool of Knockando and numerous shorter rapids. After an exhilarating day of paddling, we camp near the mouth of the River Fiddich. (B, L, D)

Day 4– Craigellachie to Spey Bay

Under the shadow of Ben Aigan, we spend the morning descending through the Rothes Glens to the beautiful river pools at Delfur. As the River Spey gathers speed in its race to the sea, we round the many bends that lead through the coastal plain to our journey’s end at Spey Bay. At the end of the journey, you are transferred back to Aviemore Railway Station where the trip ends. (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 Departures

44 people viewed this trip in the last week

Book with confidence - we guaranteee our trips to run as soon as 2 people book.

2018 Trip Dates

Trip Date
Price
Availability
Trip Status
 
4th May - 7th May 2018
£625
1 place(s) left
29th Jun - 2nd Jul 2018
£625
8 place(s) left
14th Sep - 17th Sep 2018
£655
6 place(s) left

Price from: £625
Was £675.00, Saving £50

Next trip: 4th May

Duration: 3 night(s)

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Comfort: Wilderness Camping

Difficulty: 5

47 review(s)

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Trip reviews

Customer Kudos
I'd book with Wilderness Scotland again any day! Knowledgeable guides, a great group, and such beautiful country!

Larissa Donahue
30/09/2017

5

I was able to learn a lot from the Team on how to paddle in white water. They took time to explain how the water works and techniques to use.

Gloria Ziebart
21/09/2017

5

Rated 4.91 out of 5 based on 47 review(s) of Open Canoeing – River Spey Descent

5 star 44

4 star 2

3 star 1

2 star 0

1 star 0

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