|Mark and myself live in Worcester England
and having recently taken up kayaking we were looking for a holiday
with a difference. Mark being a keen gardener and lover of birds
and myself being fond of all things cute and furry decided that a
nature adventure holiday was what we were looking for. Having spent
many days googling the Internet, canoeing on the River Spey kept
||Having never canoed before we were slightly concerned
that we might be a bit out of our depth canoeing down a river but
having chatted to Dave he reassured us that the trip would be great
for us and certainly allow us to learn how to handle a canoe, and
take in the stunning scenery of Scotland along with many opportunities
to see a variety of wild life. Dave also provided us with some very
detailed checklists of all the things we would need and what to expect,
so we could be well prepared. Although it was a long journey to Scotland
it was definitely worth it, the scenery was fantastic and we saw
red squirrel, rabbits and Oyster Catchers on the way.
|After travelling for nine hours the Beeches was a welcome
sight with the smell of home cooking in the air. It is set in a stunning
garden, very tranquil with beautiful flowers, plants and trees, dotted
around the garden were hedgehog, red squirrel and bird houses. Dave
came out to welcome us and show us around. Judith then took us up
to our room, which was so homely and comfortable, complete with a
teddy on the bed. We then had a leisurely stroll around the area
and saw lots of rabbits, robins, black birds, a raven, a fieldfare and some pheasant. We then met Gus and Harry the rest of our group
whilst tucking into a very tasty home cooked meal prepared by Judith
whose culinary skills where definitely five star.
||After learning some basic paddle strokes we set off
towards Aviemore. It was reassuring at this point to know that we
could handle the canoes. I was convinced we would crash but we didn’t
as Dave gave very good instruction through out. Along this stretch
we also saw some Goldeneye. Before heading back to the Beeches for
another fantastic evening meal prepared by Judith.
In the morning we had a beautiful breakfast before
packing up the canoes and equipment and setting off for our first
day on the water. We arrived at Loch Inch and unloaded the canoes
and equipment. In less than two minutes of getting on the water Dave
pointed out an
osprey nest complete with two ospreys,
also saw buzzards.
|The following day we got up and packed
the canoes and equipment and set off back to Aviemore to commence
the full river descent. All very excited and keen to practice some
the skills learnt the previous day. We encountered some rapids, which
were fun, and the Salmon were leaping up all over the place next
to the canoes very nice to watch.
The scenery was fantastic and along this stretch
we saw some more Goldeneyes, Gooseanders
and a Dipper.
|We arrived at a riverside camp sight in Bailliefurth
and pitched our tents. Whilst Dave cooked up a lovely pasta and vegetable
dinner accompanied by hot puddings and wine. We then sat around the
campfire at the riverside and the lads all had a dram of whisky,
it was lovely and relaxing with owls hooting and flying past in the
||The next day we packed camp up and had a hearty breakfast
complete with cereal, bacon or fruit conserve rolls and hot teas
and coffee. Setting off down river past Grantown on Spey, we encountered
more rapids and boulders (hippo’s), which needed to be manoeuvred
around. Dave was able to tell us all about the local surroundings
and history. And the Buzzards greeted us again with a lovely overhead
display, and we saw more salmon jumping and Herons fishing
|We stopped at Ballindalloch and had a short walk across
a field, which required some teamwork to get the equipment over to
the campsite. We set up camp at Ballindalloch Station, which also
forms part of the Spey Side Walk. Beautiful scenery, and some good
history around the station area, which is sadly disused but still
very interesting. After the evening meal we took a stroll over the
disused bridge and then turned in for the night.
Whilst eating breakfast we saw a
Great Tit and
We then set off down river again onto Craigellachie. The water was
picking up speed at this point and we stopped for afternoon tea and
munchies in a lovely little village, before reaching Craigellachie
were we set up camp. That evening we had a lovely bar meal at the
Highlander Inn and then ambled over to Joe’s Bar were the lads
sampled a lot of the local whiskeys and I had a vodka tonic, as I
didn’t want to put any hairs on my chest.
The next day we set off past the village of Rothes.
were starting to change vast red cliff faces were appearing. We saw
along this stretch Grey Wagtail,
a Cormorant and
and a bird that looked very much like a Lapwing.
As we neared the end, the banks became shingled and the sea air
was wafting in on the breeze. Then
as we turned a corner the mouth of the river opened and big
sea waves were rolling in front of us. A very emotional moment
the river Spey all the way to the sea. We landed on a tiny
island between the river and the big wide sea and then canoed back
shore on the last 100 yards we caught a wave and actually surfed
canoe fantastic adrenaline rush.
||We were then shuttled back to the Beeches for Haggis,
Neaps, Tatties and Scurly. (probably not spelt like that) very very
tasty followed by black forest pudding. We reminisced over the journey
and spent our last evening together as a group. I have to say I could
of cried at the dinner table we had such a fantastic time we didn’t
want it to end. It was definitely the best holiday we have ever had
and we have been around a fair bit.
| Thank you to Dave and Judith for welcoming us into their home and
sharing the Spey Descent with us. Dave had endless advice, knowledge,
patience and a good sense of humour. After Judith’s cooking,
Mark now wants to eat three courses for every meal and have smoked
salmon for his breakfast. Thank you to Gus and Harry our other
group members we wont forget you and we are so glad you were on
the trip with us.