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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

80km Decent of the River Spey Scotland:

I am just back from a 3 day decent on the river Spey, well actually its more like 4 days when you add in the close to 4 hour shuttle do this twice and you have 8 hours of shuttling, its a slightpain in the ass and you are dying to get on the river by the end of it.

My trip started as most of mine do In total melt down when the Jeep I was meant to be driving over in Blew its Turbo the Night before I was due to leave, so I was left running around trying to source a car Cheers to My sister for lending me hers. Its a long old spin up to Glenmore Lodge in Scotland from Waterford the round trip put a cool 1600km on the car. But it is well worth the effort. I was paddling with a group of Instructors from Tollymore Mountain Centre.

Once on the river it is pretty mellow with the snow capped Cairngorm Mountains around you and beautiful wooded valley the whole way we started from Aviemore and went to the Sea at Spey Bay which is about 80km long.

Day one: We paddled for only 1 hour as it was 7pm by the time we stepped on the water however the river was so high we managed to get 10km under our belt and taking it pretty handy. The beauty of Scotland is the access laws so as long as you are acting responsible you can camp where you like so once we spotted a nice looking camp site we grabbed it.

Day 2: We started at 9am and went through till about 6pm the river opened up a wee bit and some nice Grade 2 rapids appeared we covered just over 30km the best bit is that these rapids are fairy continuous so the flat water was kept to a minimum and luckly for us the strong winds where on our backs the whole day. Then right at the camp site we had a perfect wave to surf. Its interesting trying to surf waves with a fully loaded canoe it takes a little bit of getting used to but once you do its all good.

Day 3: Again early enough start round 9:30 and today was mostly going to be Good Grade 3 rapids, Not the most technical of rapids but fast and the river turned to Alpine style and if it had of been a tad warmer you may well have thought you were in France. Today was also the Day of the ICU’s First ever Level 5 Canoe skills assessment and with the way things had worked out I was the only person being Assessed. So I was given 3 of the Guys to lead down the river and do some coaching with so the day went on well stopping at every opportunity to have a play around on the rapids and waves. We found a real nice place to camp up on a hill overlooking the whole valley. After we sorted out camp and food I had a quick debrief with the assessors to my delight I was passed.

DAY 4: Was the final day as we had to make the get off before lunch as some of the boys had a evening ferry to catch, the river again changes in characteristic with more amazing Scenery and the a mixture of Grade 2 and 3 rapids continuing the whole way down to the sea. It was pretty cool to paddle straight from a river onto the sea after starting up in the mountains and rounded off a great few days nicely.

Over all the Spey lived up to its reputation of being a Classic Scottish river and an amazing touring river. I am hoping to organise a trip over to Scotland for Irish paddlers after the summer and hopefully run afew training courses on the rivers. If anyone is interested in a trip over or on any more info on my trip feel free to email me at

Happy Paddling


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