Summit to Sea Canoe & Climb Expedition

Activity Overview

What To Expect From A Summit to Sea Expedition

An extraordinary journey taking you from over 1200m above sea level in the heart of the Cairngorm mountains, and down the River Spey by Canadian canoe to the sea on the coast of Scotland. An awesome wild experience for the adventurer in you. You will camp for 3 nights in wild campsites, taking in the wonderful surroundings of the Cairngorms National Park and Spey Valley.

Day 1 – scaling the heights of the Cairngorms

Meeting in the bustling Highland capital of Inverness at 8:30AM you and your fellow adventurers, will travel towards the Cairngorm Mountains to start your 4-day adventure.

First up is strenuous walk to the summit of Braeriach, the 2nd highest mountain in the UK (or alternative if the weather dictates otherwise).  The summit of Braeriach is actually made up from the apexes of 5 corries [or cym in Welsh, or tarn in England) making this an awe-inspriring place to be.  On a clear day, standing on the summit you can see miles and miles away into the distance down Glen Dee, past the almost as big Ben Macdui.  Thrusting their way skywards you’ll see great cliffs of red granite rising from the corries below in the form of spires, buttresses and pinnacles.

Having conquered the heights of Braeriach, we have a little surprise for you before you descend.  You are unlikely to have heard of Loch Coire an Lochan, but this is the highest named loch in the UK at 1000m above sea level and, if you’re up for it, you can take a quick wild-swim, the old fashioned way….with no wetsuits!  It’s not for everyone, but the opportunity is there for the braver amongst you.  After your day on the hill, we’ll collect you and take you to the next leg of the journey.

After arriving at Cromdale on the River Spey, you’ll pack your canoes and make your way a short distance down river to camp at an awesome island campsite.  With a campfire flickering and the tents in place, it will be time for a 3-course meal to replace all that energy used up on the hill during the day.

You’ll have no trouble sleeping this evening with tired legs after a day in the Highland fresh air.

Day 2 – the river adventure begins

After your short introduction to the river on Day 1, things start to get a bit more interesting today as you start to get a feel for the character of the River Spey.  Although you’ll come across some whitewater today, this is a more relaxed day, an appetiser for what lays in store on Day 3!  You’ll get some coaching from our guide if you need it, learn a bit about the River Spey’s rich cultural and industrial heritage and keep your eyes open looking out for wildlife.

Day 3 – the River Spey shows its true character

A very exciting day today as you progress down-river through the heart of the Speyside whisky region.  You’ll encounter the infamous ‘Washing Machine’ rapid early in the day, test your new-found canoe skills on the Knockando rapids and continue down river towards Craigellachie.  We’ll aim to reach one of our favourite wild campsites on the Spey by late afternoon.

Day 4 – the coast in sight

After the adrenaline-fuelled day yesterday, day 4 will be a bit more relaxed, as the river meanders its way towards the sea. You’ll notice the character of the landscape around you change markedly, and start to smell the sea air as Spey Bay approaches.

As the expedition reaches its finale at Spey Bay our driver will collect the group and return all to Inverness for onward travel by train, bus or plane.  If anyone needs dropped off at accommodation in Inverness, we can do that as well.

This is a wonderful journey, led by an experienced guide travelling through a variety of landscapes from the alpine-like plateau of the Cairngorms to the salty sea at Spey Bay.

(Minimum) £640
4 days, 3 nights
April to October
18 Years


  • Minimum age: 16 yo when with private groups.
  • Must be able to swim 25 metres.
  • Must have reasonable fitness levels in order to walk up the mountain on day 1 and carry heavy backpacks.
  • Some prior experience canoeing is preferable, though not essential.

What to Bring Along

We will provide a suggested kit list and advise on what kinds of things you need to bring along.

What’s Included

All necessary paddling equipment, camping and cooking equipment (excluding sleeping bags), food from lunch on Day 1 until lunch on the final day;  transport from the meeting point on Day 1 until we drop of you off in Inverness on the final day.

Make a Booking

If you are travelling alone or with a smaller group (less than 4 people), please check availability with our partner company Much Better Adventures. If you are part of a larger group (a minimum of 4 people will be required) and want a private guided tour, please contact us directly.


A Guide to Midges in Scotland

If you’re planning to explore Scotland’s stunning landscapes this summer, it’s advised to take precautions against attracting midges and other insects. Learn where to expect them and how best to avoid getting bitten.

FAQS about Midges

What are midges? 

Small two-winged flies which often from swarms or clouds. There are a number of different species of midge, some of which partly feed off nectar in addition to the blood of animals and sometimes humans.

Which type of midge lives in Scotland?

The Highland midge. It’s found throughout the British isles, northern Europe and even northern China.

Are midges like mosquitos? 

No. While midges might look like mosquitos close up and suck blood, they are not mosquitos and do not spread malaria.

What do midge bites look like?

Small red dots which can develop into itchy, painful swellings and even blisters.

Are midge bites serious?

Midge bites are harmless but if the skin around the bite becomes broken it could become infected.

How do midges detect their prey? The midge locates its prey by picking up carbon dioxide exhaled into the atmosphere.

Did you know? Only the female midge bites!

Where are the midge hotspots Scotland?

The west of the Highlands, islands and parts of the Cairngorms. They are also found in Perthshire and Argyll.

At what time of day are midges most active?

At dawn or dusk. They also like damp, clammy days with overcast skies and little wind.

At what time of year are midges most common? 

From May to October.

Where are midges found?

Midges love humid and damp conditions as well as shady spots. Marshlands, grasslands, forests and woodlands, the banks of rivers, ponds and lochs; all are magnets for midges.

At what time of day are midges most active?

At dawn or dusk. They also like damp, clammy days with overcast skies and little wind.

What can you do about them?

We advise buy a midge-head net and possibly buy some insect repellent too, e.g. check the Smidge website.  Midges won’t generally bother you during activities, but if they are around, you may bump into them if you are standing waiting, changing clothes, or resting during an activity.

In Your Element guides are local, experienced guys and girls that love doing what they do.  They will be on hand to coach you, keep you safe, show you all the best campsites, tell you about what you see along the way, perhaps tell you a story or two, and they will be great camp-chefs (the quality of our camp-tucker is highly regarded!).

You’re always in good company on one of our adventures.  Our trips are typically made up of a mixture of solo travellers and small groups of 2 or 3 friends, with most in their 30s-50s.

Our sociable adventures are solo-friendly by design and naturally attract outdoorsy people with a shared mindset; a love for adventure, a desire to push themselves and meet awesome, like-minded people along the way.

It’s this camaraderie that has so often turned a great adventure into a life-changing one.

All of our public, scheduled group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. We may however, be able to cater for children on some private group departures.  Just get in touch to find out more if this is of interest.

In Your Element don’t require you to have travel insurance, however, if booking through a partner company like Much Better Adventures, you will need it.

We do however, recommend that you have travel insurance, in case of holiday cancellations or illness, for example, prior to departure.  None of the expeditions that we offer require ‘high-risk’ insurance cover.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for medical treatment, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

In Your Element has industry-leading Liability Insurance covering participants while on expedition.  You will also be protected by Financial insolvency Insurance.

The Scottish summer is usually warm but you can expect some rain, even if it’s just a little. Prepare for anything and think ‘layers’. Conditions in May and September will be slightly cooler, with the potential for frost at night. Kit-wise, the main thing is a warm sleeping bag, and an additional bag liner if you feel the cold more.

If you are planning to join one of our scheduled departures through Much Better Adventures, for example, then yes, absolutely.  You’ll be joining like-minded individuals, on a small, social expedition, so ideal for individuals to join.

For other expeditions that do not have online availability, then I’m afraid you won’t be able to do that as an individual.  Generally speaking, we need a minimum of 4 people for a private group expedition to be viable for us.

Scottish weather can be unpredictable as most people will know.  We will monitor weather forecasts in the lead up to your expedition departure date and we will have alternative routes in mind, should the weather look particularly bad.  That may just mean starting somewhere else nearby and heading in a different direction, or at worst, we may need to consider a different location altogether.  However, you can be assured that we will discuss this with you if the need arises.

Yes, you do.

You’ll either be sharing a canoe or kayak, perhaps paddling a kayak yourself, carrying a rucksack up a hill or your kit on a bike.  We will give you suggested personal equipment lists prior to the expedition to help you pack sensibly.  But do bear in mind you will need to carry your stuff and potentially some group equipment too.

Our adventure holiday offerings require different levels of experience depending on the location and nature of the expedition.  However, all participants joining one of our expeditions should have a generally good level of fitness.

You may be expected to help lift equipment (like boats), carry your personal equipment and help with group kit.  You may also spend a few hours paddling or cycling at a time, or walking with a heavy backpack.  So, it goes without saying that any fitness preparation or conditioning you can do prior to the expedition, will help you enjoy it more.

Having said all that, most of our expeditions are aimed at less experienced indivudals, so we don’t expect you to be Olympic athletes!

Enquiry Form