View from boat on river Spey
Make a real multi-day canoe journey on this beautiful Scottish river. Photo: Paul Kirtey.

Paddle From Cairngorms To Coast On A Classic British River Trip

If you want to graduate to wilderness canoe touring there is no better way in Britain than this classic Scottish river journey.

Starting at Loch Insh, in the shadow of the Cairngorm mountains, your descent of the River Spey will lead you to the sea at Spey Bay.

After a day of honing your skills, you will cover 70 miles of river over the course of four days, wild camping each night.

Along the way there is great paddling, beautiful scenery at every turn and an opportunity to apply a range of bushcraft skills.

This is a real-world journey and it will be run as such, with the benefit of your guides’ experience in making wilderness journeys.

A Real-World Journey With Expert Guidance

On river, the trip will be guided by Ray Goodwin, with plenty of opportunity to work on your moving water technique under his watchful eye. On land Paul Kirtley will overlay bushcraft instruction, advice and guidance. The combination will provide you with the canoeing and associated campcraft skills to venture further in an open boat along with the experience and confidence to do so.

Canoe on rapids
Negotiate exhilarating rapids under expert guidance. Photo: Ray Goodwin.

The river will be run as per river journeys in more remote settings and all camping will be done in true wilderness bushcraft style with the use of tarps and fires.

Before we set off, we will have a consolidation day on Loch Insh to prepare for the journey. Here we will be based at the Loch Insh Watersports Centre and in the evening we will discuss what to bring for the journey and how to pack it.

Following a night in the centre’s comfortable accommodation, we will load the boats and begin the journey from mountains to sea….

Why Ray Goodwin loves the River Spey:

“This is my favourite British expeditioning river. The scenery changes from day to day from the mountain backdrops at the start, to the flats beyond Aviemore and then, from Grantown onwards, the relentless onward flow to the sea through a spectacular valley. Over the years I have sampled wild camping in rugged tree covered islands and that is very much part of my Spey memories (along with a drop or two of single malt of course). The people I have paddled with and those that I have met along the way are very much part of this very special experience. Paddling the Spey is always one of the highlights of my year”.


What People Say About the River Spey Expedition:

All the Other Details You Need to Know…


You don’t need to spend lots of money on specialist clothing or equipment for this trip. At a bare minimum you will need some warm layers and waterproof shell clothing, a daysac and some basic camping gear.

Canoes and other specialist equipment – including buoyancy aid, helmet, paddle and drybag for your kit – will be provided for your use during the trip. We will ask you for some measurements so that we can provide you with appropriately-sized equipment. We will also provide communal cooking/kitchen items.

If you have your own buoyancy aid, helmet, paddles or boat, please feel free to bring them. Please let us know if you do not require the use of our equipment by writing “not required”, “not applicable” or “N/A” in the sizing fields of the booking form.

A full kit-list is available here. The kit-list will also be e-mailed to you with your e-mail receipt after your booking has been accepted.

Boat and rapids near Knockando, Strathspey
All specialist equipment – boat, paddles, helmet, drybag is provided or you can bring your own if you have them. Photo: Paul Kirtley.


This trip will be entirely outdoors, apart from an evening session in the Loch Insh centre.


We will meet at the Loch Insh Watersports Centre and stay there Sunday and Monday evenings. Accommodation is in double rooms. During the river trip we will be wild camping. On Friday afternoon there will be a transfer from Spey Bay back to Loch Insh for our group and equipment (included in trip fee).


Evening meals – in the Loch Insh Outdoor Centre and on the river trip – will be provided. Breakfasts in the centre (Monday and Tuesday) and on the river are also included. Lunches on the river are included.

We ask that you bring your preferred snacks for the week (cereal bars, GORP, chocolate, etc.).

When we are operating on the loch on Monday, you can pay for a quick lunch in the Boathhouse (soups, sandwiches and the like) or bring a packed lunch to eat on shore. All other food is provided, as per above.

While on the river trip we will cook meals communally and there will also be a communal kettle for hot drinks morning and evening.

If you have special dietary requirements there is the opportunity to tell us about this during the booking process. You can also pick up the phone to talk with one of our team about any concerns you might have.

Experience Required

You should have paddled before and be able to use stern rudder, J-stroke, bow draws and cross draws. It would be helpful if you have paddled some whitewater before but it is not essential. The consolidation day on Loch Insh will look at preparing your technique for the river trip.

Availability and Booking: River Spey Canoe Expedition

Duration: 5 days

Price: £797

Suitability: 18 years & above.

Course size: 9 participants (maximum).

Location: River Spey; Badenoch and Strathspey to the Moray Firth.

Trip Meeting Time: 18:00 Day 1.

Trip Finish Time: 16:30 Day 6.

Expedition Leader: Ray Goodwin and Paul Kirtley.

River Spey Canoe Expedition Dates:

29/09/24 – 04/10/24

06/10/24 – 11/10/24 FULLY BOOKED

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