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So where can you paddle your canoe?

Although the list of canoeing possibilities is almost endless, the following are some of our favourites.

You could also have a look at the Scottish Canoe Routes website for inspiration, which is designed to give the newcomer a taste of what you can do in Scotland.  Scottish Canoe Routes website

Great Glen Canoe Trail

The route from Fort William in the west to Inverness in the east is known as the Great Glen Canoe Trail and encompasses the Caledonian Canal plus 3 beautiful lochs, including the awesome Loch Ness. The series of canals, rivers and lochs allow a canoeist to paddle some 60 miles through stunning highland scenery. It generally takes between 3 and 5 days to cover the whole route depending on the size of the group, weather, fitness levels and experience.  It also depends on how much you want to enjoy the surroundings and Highland hospitality as you go, or to race to the finish.

Great Glen Canoe Trail website

If you don’t feel you have the experience or time to organise your own trip, why not join one of our guided Great Glen expeditions.

Loch Veyatie, Fionn Loch and Loch Sionascaig


A wilderness canoe adventure – Take 3 days for this true wilderness trip with no real paddling difficulties although there are a couple of difficult portages and great views of Suilven along the way. A wild camping heaven.

Get in touch for more information about this trip.  A great short film in the wonderful Inverpolly area – hard work but rewarding!

River Spey Canoe Trail

One of the ‘Big 4’ rivers that is a must for the touring canoeist in Scotland, and which normally provides a fast current, great scenery and some interesting rapids. To paddle from Newtonmore to Spey Bay can take up to 5 days depending on the fitness, age, size of the group, weather and the water levels.

Other popular start points for a shorter journey might be Kincraig or Aviemore. If you lack experience of whitewater paddling but would love to give it a go why not join one of our guided trips on the Spey.

canoeing on the river spey

Loch Assynt to the sea

This route takes you into the wilderness with lots of small lochs and low hills west of Loch Assynt.  It’s a great opportunity to link around 10 lochs by portages and by walking your canoe along the various connecting watercourses. Lots of hills to climb as well.
You’ll need to be totally self-sufficient on a trip like this but this is another wild option for those with a sense of adventure.
Starting at Inchnadamph you’ll paddle across Loch Assynt, through Gleannan Salach to Loch Poll and eventually to the sea at Clashnessie.
canoeing west highlands of scotland

Canoeing in Glen Affric

Glen Affric is worth a visit in its own right, a glen which is being replanted by ‘Trees for Scotland’, also offers 2 lochs set in beautiful scenery. Wild camping galore, wildlife, mountains, peace and quiet…what else can we say?

Paddling Map of Britain

Canoe map of great britainThis is a high quality map of mainland Britain that shows the huge extent of canoeing possibilities on rivers, lakes, canals and coast.  It is colour coded to clearly show the nature of these waterways.  Southern England and Wales appears on one side of the B1 sheet – Scotland and the North of England appears on the reverse.
The base map is very detailed and shows roads, towns, villages, rivers, streams, lakes and canals with this detail in pastel colours. Over this is superimposed the canoeing information in bright colours so that this stands out:
  • Tidal rivers and different Grades of river – Flat, classes: 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • Navigations (e.g. canals) used by motorized craft.
  • Especially popular canoeing trips are highlighted in yellow,
  • Selected coastal paddles are marked, as are artificial white water courses.
This map projects the ‘Big Picture’ and is very much a product that inspires, excites and gets people planning and dreaming of their next canoe trip.  Some paddlers will buy this map for the office wall whilst for the newcomer to the sport it answers the question “where can I go paddling next?  Information panels give helpful information on access, recommended websites and guidebooks – designed to ‘open the doors’ to the world of canoeing and kayaking.
You can currently buy this map on Amazon.

The ultimate Highland paddling adventure – The Great Glen Canoe Trail and The River Spey

Looking for something challenging, something different, something that not many other people will have done? Why not take on the grandeur of the Great Glen Canoe Trail and the excitement of the River Spey in one awesome paddling adventure.  In Your Element are ideally placed to help you do this, offering shuttles to and from the start and finish points on each leg of the journey for you. Your itinerary might look like this…

Day 1 Canoeing the Great Glen Canoe Trail

Canoe expedition clients arrive at our equipment depot near Inverness at 8.30am (free secure parking for the duration of your trip). Clients using public transport can be collected from Inverness at 9.00am. Drop-off at Banavie (at the start of the Great Glen Canoe Trail paddle) for people and boats would be around 11.00am. The objective for Day 1 would then be to reach the Glas-dhoire wild campsite or South Laggan that night.

Day 2

Paddle from South Laggan to somewhere near the bottom end of Loch Ness. Wild camp.

Day 3

Paddle to Dores at the north end of Loch Ness or camp close to Inverness.

Day 4

Transfer from Inverness to the River Spey (early in day if progress has been good in the Great Glen, perhaps later in the day if delayed by weather). Drop-off on River Spey would be dependent on the time available but could be Kincraig, Aviemore or somewhere else. We would normally suggest a start point of Aviemore, the aim being to reach Boat of Balliefurth to camp for the night.

Day 5 Canoeing on the River Spey

Paddle from Boat of Balliefurth to Ballindalloch Station (nr. Cragganmore).

Day 6

Paddle from Ballindalloch to Craigellachie.

Day 7

Paddle from Craigellachie to Spey Bay for a 2.30pm pick-up. Transfer back to Inverness for 4.30pm or back to our depot for 5.00pm.

Please note: Paddling the Great Glen in 3 to 3.5 days is hard work, so you would have to be reasonably fit, have canoeing experience and take the River Oich short-cut (this means that someone in the party must be competent at rescues on moving water – which you would need for the Spey anyway). We would strongly recommend that this challenge is attempted by paddling tandem too!
CAnoeing on the river spey
canoeing river spey whitewater
CAnoeing on the river spey
canoeing on the river spey
In Your Element