Kayak or Canoe the River Spey from where it becomes navigable, through the Cairngorms National Park, all the way to the sea, a classic highland adventure known as The Spey Descent!
We have either 2 person Canoes or specially designed single person Touring Kayaks, the choice is yours.
The full 5 day trip is from the Cairngorm Mountains to the sea, with time for our guides to coach the skills and for you to really enjoy the journey.
We also offer 1, 2 and 4 day River Spey paddling trips for those with less time
Stay in excellent guest houses. Or enquire about camping options.
This trip is suitable for everyone, from those who have never kayaked before to those with years of experience. We’ll teach you the skills you’ll need or improve on skills you already have as you descend the river, starting on easy water and progressing to the more exciting white water in the later part of the trip.
This is a great trip for lovers of nature. Wildlife sightings include Oyster Catchers, Herons, Osprey, Otters, Deer and leaping Salmon. The trees, flowers and mountain views are hard to beat.
Spey Descent itinerary.
Arrive in the Cairngorms National park at any time the day before your trip, we have arranged an excellent country house in Kincraig village, only minutes from where we launch the boats on day one.
If you are arriving by midday ask us about our half day activities which you could do before your trip. Your luggage will be transported by our vehical when ever you need to move guest house on your journey. On this trip we use 4 great country guest houses or quality small hotels. With 2 nights in one location.
We can advise on travel both within the UK and Internationally. Aviemore is 2.5 hours drive north of Edinburgh ( international airport ) and only 45minutes from Inverness airport ( connects to london, Amsterdam and Geneva airports ).
DAY 1 – Kincraig to Aviemore
Your guides will meet you for breakfast and give you an over view of the week to come.
Launching on a beautiful highland loch your guides spend some time teaching the basic skills as you leave the loch and head down the River Spey. We often spend some time watching the Ospreys fishing from the loch before we descend the river.
Then finish day 1 in Aviemore and relax in another great guest house only a short walk from the fantastic Old Bridge Inn restuarant and traditional highland pub. Great Food, Cairngorm micro brews and wide selection of Whiskys.
DAY 2 – Aviemore to Grantown
No need to pack this morning as we will return for a second night at the end of the day.
The first half of the day we paddle toward Grantown on Spey with great views of the Cairngorm Mountains. With a tail wind we get to sail our canoes on this section.
Sand Martins dart in and out of there river bank homes, rare Golden Eye ducks will fly by and this is a great part of the journey to relax and soak up the environment as the river flows gently here.
Landing on the sandy beach in Grantown at the end of the day.
You may well choose to eat again at the Old Bridge inn as it is so good or there are other good options of which we will advise you.
DAY 3 – Grantown to Ballidalloch
Today you’ll feel the river growing in width and current as our progress is more greatly assisted by the flow. We pass several large islands with amazing flowers and an untouched wild feel to them, making great places to stop for the picnic lunches. Then a few rapids that are a taste of what’s to come in abundance tomorrow. Tonight we stay close to the river, near to Ballidalloch Castle and there is a great restuarant again.
DAY 4 – Ballindalloch to Craigellachie
The most famous section for rapids, up to grade 2, which by now you have the skills to deal with and your guides will lead the way safely down stream.
We pass Knockando distillery and its old steam railway station, a great place for lunch. The ‘Speyside way’ long distance foot path now runs where the trains once transported the Whisky out from the many distilleries. Passing close to the river Knockando and Tamdhu distilleries and soon the old bridge of Carron distillery. Many other distillaries are passed along the way, blending naturally into the highland scenery.
Where we stay tonight you have ample opportunity to sample the Whisky as there are three traditional Whisky bars to choose from.
DAY 5 – Craigellachie to Spey Bay, Where the river flows into the sea!
The rapids ease, but there are still lots of fun waves and rapids to paddle as well as amazingly varied scenery to enjoy on route to the sea. We pass Rothes, then the sandstone pillars before Fochabers. The last few miles are strewn with old Scots pine trees, washed down from the ancient forests, which you paddled through earlier in the trip. The river spreads out and we get to choose from multiple channels as the river braids. You’ll likely see Artic turns and Oyster catchers amongst the many birds as we approach the sea passing a RSPB reserve and then the sea. The waves may be crashing on the shore or there’ll be a sunny calm, either way it’s a beautiful place to finish this epic trip from the mountains to the sea. Time for a coffee and cake in the Spey bay cafe, before we load up and head back to Aviemore.
Ask us about additional accommodation options if you are wishing to stay in Aviemore and travel the next day. We can pre-book it for you as an extention to your trip.
1-4 day versions of the trip are also available for groups on request, just ask for information if you have a group of 4 or more people. We also offer a lower cost and wilder camping version of this trip, where either we provide camping gear and food or you organise that side of things yourselves.
£995 / $1492.50 USD per person (ex. flights, based on two people sharing a room) for the 5 day Hotel and Guest house itinerary.
A single supplement of £250/ $375 will be payable should a single room be requested.
See notes below re camping options and enquire re pricing.
- All breakfasts
- All picnic lunches
- Five nights’ accommodation in good hotels and beautiful highland country houses.
- The services of a fully qualified and experienced guides for the duration of your trip.
- All group safety equipment
- Transportation for your luggage each day that we move accommodation and return transport where needed to guest houses and at the end of the river back from Spey Bay to Aviemore.
- International flights and in-country travel to the start and end point of your trip. Aviemore and Kincraig, Cairngorms national park.
- Evening meals. We have designed this itinerary to ensure you can eat at the best places to sample great highland fare and refreshment each evening.
- Travel insurance
- Alcoholic drinks
- Extended stays before or after your trip can be arranged just ask when booking
- Airport transfers from Inverness (our closest airport) or Edinburgh (international airport) can be arranged again ask when booking for advice or booking service.
Camping and shorter trip options:
Details on request. Let us know duration you have available, size of your group and weather or not you’d like to provide your own camping gear and food.
Guided only trips where we provide guides canoeing equipment and return shuttles from Spey Bay to Aviemore are available on request for groups and various durations.
See our activities Canoe and Kayak Touring pages for day trips.