Spey Descent with Explore Highland

Well, not quite kayaking, but I have just returned from a fantastic open boat trip down the River Spey with Explore Highland.

The trip, lead by Explore Highland owner Donald Macpherson and assisted by Malcolm Wield, took place over four days and included 3 nights under canvas; thankfully the weather was, on the whole, sunny and nice!

The Spey is a beautiful river – one of Scotland’s best – and a trip from (almost) source to sea is a must-do for anyone who’s into paddling in some for or another; passing through the Cairngorm mountains, Strathspey (whisky territory) and finally following the old railway through the winding shingle banks towards Spey Bay…doesn’t get much better!

We put-in at Loch Insh by Kincraig, camped night one near Aviemore, night two just passed Granton-on-Spey and night three by Aberlour. Paddled the river in tandem with out boats fully-loaded with food, boating equipment, tents and whisky. En route, Donald and Malc guided, taught and shared their backwoods skills with the entire group. It was an excellent learning experience.

Apart from a wee bit of sunburn and some blisters on my hands, it was a truly memorable experience; mountains, rivers, rapids, old bridges, steam railways, distilleries, outstanding sandstone cliffs, Red Kites, Osprey, birch and pine forests…and the odd riverside pub!

If you’d like to descend the Spey, why not give Donald at Explore Highland a shout?

Check out Explore Highland’s website: www.explorehighland.com

River Spey

Well, today there were various options on the cards; however a few of the 2* paddlers in the club hadn’t been out for a few months, so Pete Ralph and I decided to take them on a wee trip down the River Spey.

River Grade: 2
Author’s Boat: WaveSport Diesel 75
Group Size: 10

It was a lovely day as we all gathered at the get-in and spirits were high. There were 10 of us in total and we had a nice gentle paddle down through ‘washing machine’ towards Blacksboat rapid.

The river was at medium/high level, so much of the white water sections were washed out. Only one casualty at Blacksboat, but we cleaned-up quickly and had lunch to allow time for recovery and warming-up!

A few play waves later, we were over-taken by a group from Glenmore Lodge, only to catch them up again at the nice we wave about a mile south of Blacksboat. Pete showed us all how to surf – the surfing expert that he is! – and most of us had a wee shot…no capsizes!

Again, we carried on at a leisurely pace, taking in the fab. scenery, until we reached the wave train before Knockando. Given the levels, this was a great up-and-down ride, with big waves and troughs all-but hiding any paddler brave enough to tackle them!

Again, more opportunity to play; with myself, Pete, Cerian and one or two others catch a few surfs…Eddie decided one shower wasn’t enough for him and took a swim, but no major incidents…

Knockando, normally a good place to stop and play, was pretty much washed out and most of the group shot-on down to the get-out by the old station. A few of us hung about to play on the Knockando wave, which was a good ride if you could stay on, but on false edge and you were spat-out with little chance of getting back on…

Still, despite being only a grade 2 river, a fun day was had by all…what the river lacks in adrenaline-fuelled excitement, it makes up in scenic beauty!

Roll on the next river…