Spey Descent 2006
Carnethy messing about on a river

At the beginning of July, 12 adventurers (9 of them Carnethies) and their guide (Speydescent.com) paddled from Loch Insh (altitude 224 metres) to the mouth of the River Spey - 109 kilometres away. It involved 3 nights camping, carrying all gear (including ample supplies of beer and whisky), several swims (only one on purpose), paddling, prying, cutting and doing J-strokes (all mixed up and usually at the wrong times!) and lots of opportunities to marvel, up-close, at the birdlife (ospreys, herons, mergansers, dippers, oyster catchers, sand martins....). As usual, with Carnethy, this ostensibly relaxing trip had its exciting moments and even ended up with a full-blown canoe rescue! The story unfolds in the photos below.
Setting off from Loch Insh
When the weather is fine you know that it's time for messing about on the river.
'What do I do with this?' (Cathy)
Dave Craig was our guide
We start at Loch Insh
View of Cairngorms from near the start
Leaving the Cairngorms behind them

It looks easy. The canoes float gently down the river...

Lesson 1. How to steer your canoe. There will be obstacles/hazards to move around...

The Lairig Ghru makes an impressive background shot

Day 1: There was little current and hence lots of paddle-(or porridge) power needed

We hold the canoes together and put up a sail but harvesting the wind proves harder than paddling!

Collecting dead wood for the evening's fire

A whisky-tasting session round the bonfire

Time for reflection?

Idyllic (despite aching arms and shoulders)

The guys all opted for the rear 'steering' seat. The front seat gets wettest going through rapids!

With a little imagination we could be canoeing up the Amazon

...but then Nick forgot about the piranhas and alligators!

One of the palatial residences on the banks of the Spey

The bucket was actually more useful than the sponge when it came to Iain and Anne's canoe.

Anne is going to get a lot more than her feet wet..

Nick and Sarah, cool as cucumber, 'run' some rapids. They were old hands!

It was new and exciting for Calibob!

The biggest drop was at the Washing Machine

"I've got a wet bum!"

We held no fear of small rapids once we'd survived the Washing Machine

Fisher ahead! Most of them waved us on with a smile... but one didn't....

...causing a tricky circumnavigation to go wrong. Nick has been washed away. Moira is stranded and the canoe won't budge...

One rope is not enough to pull the canoe off - so Willie is 'landed' with another rope. The canoe has been dragged under by the force of water

With four people pulling on 2 ropes and Willie levering on the rock the canoe has finally come free.

Time for lunch. Iain and Anne capsize on the way to the bank! Previously they'd managed to stay afloat with water lapping their gunnels (from the inside)
Luckily it's a hot day

Spectacular red cliffs

Moira and Nick in a world of their own

Time to regroup

Look, no hands!

Cut or pry? On the left or the right? Too late - you missed it!

Debris ahead. Why does the current always seems to pull you towards hazards?

Hundreds of sand martins were flying in and out of their nests in the banks

The sea! The sea!

..but we decide to head ashore before hitting the waves.


Safe and sound at Speybay

Dave 'superman' Craig

The mascot from The Beeches brought good luck. We had great weather, we survived and I think we'd all do it again.


scenery, birds, 4 days of puns, the beer and whisky barrel, the rescue, the rapids, swimming and the camaraderie

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