Rivers
Canoeing and Kayaking on : River Spey

The classic touring river of Scotland, the River Spey is one of the most best places for canoeing and kayaking in Britain. With moving water and rapids of grade I and II, some skill and experience are required, but in normal conditions the difficulty is not too hard. In higher water, the river can reach Grade III and is a serious place to be. The most common issue is the swamping of open canoes in bouncy wave trains.

The river passes through some spectacular scenery, and is never without interest.

The section normally canoed is from Newtonmore to Spey Bay, though in low water it is common to start further downstream at Loch Insh near Aviemore. Typically it will take 3 days of paddling to reach the sea.

There are famous rapids at Blacksboat (The "Washing Machine") and Knockando.

There are opportunities for responsible wild camping, but there are also a number of very simple camp sites.

If you do not own your own canoe it is possible to hire canoes, and guides, for the Spey. It is also possible to use taxi services to get to and from the start and finish points, as several companies are used to the needs of canoeists.

Paddle Point

Access river left downstream of bridge.

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

In high water, a very large wavetrain can form shortly after the River A'an joins. This could swamp open canoes.

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

An excellent route passing many of the highlights of this superb touring river. There are numerous rapids, mostly Grade 1 or 2 in normal conditions.

There are a few campsites on the way, and it is also possible to wild camp if done so responsibly leaving no trace. We took 2 1/2 days for this section of the Spey, at a steady pace in fairly low levels.
Paddle Point
Aviemore, Aviemore, Highland PH22, UK

Campsite with excellent Showers

Paddle Point
Aviemore, Highland PH22, UK

Paddle Point
Aviemore, Highland PH22, UK

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

Paddle Point

Basic campsite, but clean and in a great location.

Website

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

Popular starting point for the River Spey.

Ask permission at camp site before launching, may be possible to arrange to leave a car.

If the river is very low, the next 5 miles may involve lots of wading.

Looking from the bridge, there needs to be obviously enough water over the gravelly rapids to float a loaded canoe. If not, consider starting at Kingussie Bridge instead.

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

Access river right just below Ruthven road Bridge.

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

Bar and restaurant at the Watersports Centre

Website

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

Access river right just below bridge.

Parking in layby a few hundred metres south.

River speeds up slightly here.

Paddle Point
Aviemore, Highland PH22, UK

Access river left below bridge.

The town of Aviemore is within walking distance, with pubs, a good supermarket and lots of outdoor shops!

The nearest campsite is at Colyumbridge, nearly 2 miles away.


The Strathspey Railway runs from Aviemore to Broomhill, making the possibility of a steam powered shuttle an option: website

Paddle Point

Access river left, just below bridge.

Broomhill Station on the Strathspey Railway close by, with trains to Aviemore.http://www.strathspeyrailway.net/

Paddle Point

River right, about 1km after the River Dulnain joins the Spey. Look for the signs.

Simple farm campsite with toilet and tap.

Paddle Point

Good access at car park river left, about 500m before the road bridge, where a small sandy beach makes for a simple launch. The layby just above should probably just be used for unloading, and cars left in the car park just 20m back towards the road.

Grantown-on-Spey is less than a mile away, with shops, cafes, pubs etc. The Co-op in the square middle of the High St is very useful, and is open 7 days a week, 7am-10pm. Cafe/bakery opposite does good value breakfasts.

Paddle Point

Fairly long Grade II rapids below the main road bridge, ending at the old bridge about 1/3 of a mile later.

Easy to inspect from bridges and banks, but not really necessary, as its just a modest rock dodging exercise.

Paddle Point

Access river right by the church, immediately after the bridge.

Paddle Point

Limited access and parking on river left where road comes close to river.

Paddle Point

Access river left below bridge.

Limited parking on verge opposite gate.

Paddle Point

Access where road comes close to bank. Very popular spot.

Please try to keep road clear and not leave cars for long.

Paddle Point

Grade II in normal levels, harder in high water.

One of the most famous rapids on the Spey, consisting of a Grade II ramp between shingle banks with a long bouncy wave train. Open canoes regularly swamped here, but if you pick your line carefully you can skirt the biggest of the waves. In low conditions, the drop is actually quite large, and there are a few rocks. However, competent paddlers will have no problems, its merely a matter of picking the line.

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

This is not an official campsite, and has no facilities. To use it please contact the Ballindalloch Estate in advance on 01807 500205


Paddle Point

Access only by prior arragement with Ballindalloch Estate, when using campsite by station 01807 500205

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

The second well known rapids on the Spey, grade II normally.

After a first island and a distinct narrowing and tightening of the valley, the distillery chimney appears in view, and then you reach the rapids properly. The middle channel is usually best, ending with a drop on the left.

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

Immediately below Knockando rapids, river left. Steps to car park.

Paddle Point

There are a series of at least 5 rapids between Knockando and Charlestown
All can have big waves in high water, but otherwise are normally Grade II or less.

Paddle Point

Access river left by bridge

Paddle Point

The end of the notable rapids on this part of the Spey.

Paddle Point
Aberlour, Aberlour, Moray AB38, UK

Landing river right a few hundred yards after footbridge, and just after a short rapid, where a small inlet is on the right.

The village is a short walk away, with shops and pubs, and a toilet diagonally to the right, looking towards town.

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

Access river right above rapids on beach.

Parking adjacent.

Paddle Point

Small rapids begin just above the new road bridge, shortly after the old Telford Bridge.

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

"If using the Boat o’Fiddich Park campsite – right bank by small black fishing hut, some 500 metres below the road bridge, and approx. 300m above the confluence of the Fiddich Water. Park boats within the ‘L-shaped’ fenced area, approx. 25metres north of the fishing hut. On leaving this location endeavour to stay river-right until the next rapid. (Avoid using the ‘anglers’ litter-bin by the fishing shelter.)" from Spey Guide

"Camp area is located in Fiddich Park by the car park & public toilets. Designated canoe parking area ~ L-shaped fencing, complete with tethering rings ~ 25 metres north/downstream of the black fishing shelter. Use steps upstream of the fishing shelter to gain access on to the Speyside Way. At top of steps, turn left along the Way; continue 300 metres along the track under the bridge. Camping is on the flat areas beyond the car park and wooden toilet building. " from SCA

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

Access river left, with limited parking.


Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

Approaching Boat o'Brig, there is a left hand band below cliffs where the river pushes against the walls, known as Otter Hole. Here, a rock sticks out into the stream, and the water flows straight at it. It is possible to keep well left, but start the move early as you will approach the rock surprisingly quickly. Braver paddlers can miss the rock on the right, again with an early move.

Paddle Point

Access river left above or below the road bridge.

Access via track next to waterboard building.

There is a small Speyside Way carpark on the opposite bank at this point, but access directly from the river is less easy.

Paddle Point

Access to village via park

Paddle Point

Access river right below road bridge, with track to parking.

Paddle Point
1 Chome-11 Kamifukubara, Yonago-shi, Tottori-ken 683-0004, Japan

The end!

Access river right, now on tidal waters, bear to buildings and car park.

The nearby Spey Bay Hotel (Tel 01343 820 424) is normally happy for cars to be left there for the duration of the trip, by prior arrangement.

It seems the hotel may now be closed. It has been suggested that the Visitor Centre are happy for cars to be left there, despite signs saying "no overnight parking". Worth phoning in advance to make sure though: 01343 820339