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    Open Canoeing

    River Spey Descent

    69 reviews

    Next Trip: 3rd - 6th Jul 2023 Duration: 4 Days / 3 Nights

    From £620 View Prices & Dates

    Travel Planning & Advice

    Book With Confidence

    Trip created by Stevie Christie
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    Region: Cairngorms and Central Highlands
    Trip Type: Canoeing
    Accommodation: Wilderness Camping
    Max Group Size: 8
    Confirmed: When 3 Travellers Book
    Deposit From: £155.00 £155.00


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    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 river’s character that 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, preparing you for the next day’s challenges.

    This trip is suitable for people with at least two 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)

    Open Canoeing
    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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    Trip Dates & Prices

    Trip Dates for 2023AvailabilityStatusPriceBook
    3rd Jul - 6th Jul 2023Trip FullFULLY BOOKED£620
    31st Jul - 3rd Aug 20238 places leftUNCONFIRMED£620Book Now
    28th Aug - 31st Aug 20236 places leftUNCONFIRMED£620Book Now
    18th Sep - 21st Sep 20238 places leftUNCONFIRMED£620Book Now

    Trip Details

    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.
    Trip Grading Read More

    Blue Graded 5

    This 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 in steering the canoe is an essential skill from the beginning. You can expect up to 7 hours of paddling a day plus breaks.

    Travel – Arrival and Departure 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

    Jane Gillies

    Our friendly office team hail from across the world but share a passion for the outdoor and wild spaces of Scotland. We are committed to providing you with the best customer service and are more than happy to chat through options and provide help and advice. Get in touch to find your perfect adventure.

    Ask Jane 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.

    North West Highlands

    This Blue graded trip combines canoeing and hillwalking. It is suitable for people with no previous experience in canoeing but a good level of fitness and hiking experience is required. This is a very physically demanding trip as we canoe on wild lochs, hike remote routes on rough ground, portage our boats from loch to loch and camp in wild terrain.

    We will be active for up to 8 hours each day. The hikes will be mostly off-path and include ascending peaks up to 3000ft high over rough, boggy and bouldery terrain. The canoeing will be on flat-water lochs but this can be challenging in windy conditions and there may be small waves. We also have to carry or ‘portage’ all our boats and gear from loch to loch – an integral part of journeying by canoe.

    Compare open canoeing grades

    Trip Reviews

    Rated 4.93 out of 5 based on 69 reviews 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.


    Geoff Harman

    Reviewed on 22/08/2022

    Age: 50 - 60
    Country: United Kingdom
    Trip Date: 13/08/2022
    Trips Taken: 2

    The Bottom Line

    The Bottom Line

    Did just what it said on the tin. Exactly what I wanted. (Although I would like to register my strong displeasure at the weather!)


    Joanne Riley

    Reviewed on 21/08/2022

    Age: 50 - 60
    Country: United Kingdom
    Trip Date: 13/08/2022
    Trips Taken: 1

    The Bottom Line

    The Bottom Line

    An incredible experience that I feel so privileged to have had. Wonderful people, stunning environment, memories that will last a lifetime.


    John Rettie

    Reviewed on 19/08/2022

    Age: 50 - 60
    Country: Scotland
    Trip Date: 13/08/2022
    Trips Taken: 1

    The Bottom Line

    The Bottom Line

    If you are looking at this you are thinking about going on that trip. Then do it, the service provided was excellent.

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