Articles by Year

<<     >>

Articles by Category



Selected Trips

    Open Canoeing
    River Spey Descent

    61 review(s)

    Next Trip(s): 23rd Apr | 18th Jun Duration: 4 Days / 3 Nights

    From £585 View Prices & Dates

    Good to go

    We are open for bookings and are running holidays and trips

    We remain true to our values and we're reopening in a considered way, that respects each of you as individual travellers, while in equal measure respecting the communities that we visit.

    Travel Planning and Advice

    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: £146.25 £146.25


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

    Download Itinerary

    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)

    River Spey Descent

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

    Fields marked with * are mandatory

    The phone number field is not required but if you would like us to give you a call to help find the trip for you, then enter the best number to call you on.

    Trip Dates & Prices

    Trip Dates for 2022AvailabilityStatusPriceBook
    23rd Apr - 26th Apr 2022Trip FullFULLY BOOKED£585
    18th Jun - 21st Jun 20227 place(s) leftUNCONFIRMED£585Book Now
    13th Aug - 16th Aug 20227 place(s) leftUNCONFIRMED£585Book Now

    What's Included

    Accommodation 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 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.

    Inclusions Read More
    • 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.
    Travel 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/

    Photo Gallery

    Make This Trip Private

    Fancy this trip just for your group? Get together with family and friends spend quality time exploring wild places. A private trip allows you to benefit from all the features of the group departure, including hand-picked accommodation and expert local guides but with the advantage of the flexibility to tailor the days to your group. Make the trip more or less challenging depending on your experience or choose to add in some optional extras like castle or distillery visits depending on your interests. The price of a private trip will depend on the number of travellers in your group. Let us know your prefered departure date and we'll take care of the rest.

    Speak to an Expert

    Stevie Christie

    As an avid adventurer, Stevie has life-long experience in Scotland’s outdoors. He’s Co-Owner and Head of Adventure with Wilderness and been with us for over 15 years in a variety of roles, with innovative trip design being both a passion and a speciality. In his spare time, Stevie runs the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival, bringing the world’s most inspiring adventure filmmakers and athletes to an audience of over 1,500 each year. His love for adventure and knowledge of Scotland inspired him to design this exciting canoe trip.

    Ask Stevie a Question

    Meet Your Guide

    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 4.92 out of 5 based on 61 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.


    Matthias Koehler

    Reviewed on 16/07/2021

    Age: 40 - 50
    Country: United Kingdom
    Trip Date: 03/07/2021
    Trips Taken: 1

    The Bottom Line


    Jonathan Greenwood

    Reviewed on 07/05/2021

    Age: 50 - 60
    Country: UK
    Trip Date: 01/05/2021
    Trips Taken: 1

    The Bottom Line

    The Bottom Line

    Quite a tough trip - this was no walk in the park (or more appropriately -paddle on the boating lake). At times it was cold and wet and physically demanding - but it was a beautiful, fun, challenging and rewarding trip.


    Anthony Colmer

    Reviewed on 07/05/2021

    Age: 60 - 70
    Country: United Kingdom
    Trip Date: 01/05/2021
    Trips Taken: 1

    The Bottom Line

    The Bottom Line

    This is a fine journey and adventure. Exhilarating and demanding at times, lovely scenery with interesting items of special interest along the way, away from the rest of the world, and great camaraderie.

    News & Offers

    Be the first to hear about new trips, locations and activities with our monthly newsletter