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Thread: Making friends with the mighty Spey

  1. #1
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    Default Making friends with the mighty Spey

    It was the last week of October and I had no obligations except to go canoeing. The weather forecast was a bit dodgy for further West so I decided to attempt a long held ambition of paddling the Spey from Newtonmore to the sea. Iíd been down various bits previously, including the Washing Machine and Knockando rapids, so felt confident in my ability to manage the risks even though I was going solo. As I drove around the Cairngorms to Newtonmore I found myself managing the familiar thoughts of the solo traveler; mostly flipping between self doubt and wondering what Iíd forgotten. However, as I arrived at the put in there was something I hadnít considered in my planning. There were other people unloading canoes.
    I was welcomed with a warm handshake and quickly invited to join their shuttle arrangements. Steve, Gordon and Edd had driven up from Somerset the day before. As we returned to the boats from Spey Bay I was feeling that the banter was good and that we could get on well together. Steve and Gordon seemed to have many years experience on the water. Edd was much younger but knew his way around his boat.
    Back at Newtonmore we finished loading the boats. There is a lack of parking near the river. The campsite was closed and there is a lot of construction work going on, so we had a delay while Gordon walked back from the village. Not surprisingly it started to rain heavily, which was to be a feature of the next few days. There wasnít a lot of rain, but it was usually heavy and inopportune.


    I noticed that my newfound companions were heavily laden, so reckoned they were worth hanging around with!


    Soon we got going, ponchos were popular.


    As we approached the railway bridge the Royal Scotsman went past, giving us a glimpse of the kind of fine dining environment we wouldnít be enjoying for the next few days.


    We had all been on the go for many hours so a late lunch was in order. Edd took the opportunity to admire the beauty of creation.


    Back on the river and we had some tree stump dodging, though nothing too troublesome. Then the land opened out. Ruthven Barracks were looking moody.


    As we passed through the Insh Marshes we were conscious of the time and needed to find somewhere to camp. The plan was to stop near the confluence with the Feshie but darkness was approaching quickly so we stopped before crossing Loch Insh. It was hammock territory.


    We were strung out (literally) along the waterís edge but came together after eating to sit around my new firebox, which is a splendid piece of kit and gave a warm focus for our first night out. It stayed fairly dry overnight and the next morning we got going in reasonable time. Whilst attending to his ablutions, Gordon had a close encounter with two Great Danes and their owner. We didnít enquire about the details, but he wasnít too traumatised!
    Just as we got on the water a vicious squally rain shower hit us. Any thoughts about sailing across Loch Insh vanished and it was heads down, no nonsense paddling.


    Steve did attempt to use his poncho as a sail, but it was taking him the in the wrong direction.


    I just got on and paddled. In my haste to make the far side I hadnít noticed the grit on my hand and had a small but irritating blister on one finger.

    The finger.


    Hereís the obligatory photo of the ospreys nest. The occupants had already left for warmer climes.


    In the shelter of trees, sun out, but still evidence of rain.


    Back on the river and we had a bit more current to carry us along. Steve was more successful in harnessing the wind. At least, it was drying out his poncho.


    Heíd been having dampness problems with his footwear so when we got to Aviemore the gear shops were visited in search of waterproof socks. Very nice coffee and cake was consumed in the Mountain Cafe and everyone dried out a bit. The afternoon was drier and we had a helpful breeze pushing us along. Gordon was coaching Edd in map reading; the inevitable standing joke developed about the bridge 500metres round the next bend.


    The bridge that wasnít.


    Token heron picture.


    That night we planned to camp at the simple but pleasant site at Boat of Balliefurth. We arrived in good time, a couple of hours before dark. Our host, Ronnie came down with a big sack of wood and made us feel welcomed. I quickly put up my tent, but the others were keen on more simple accommodation.


    We soon had the trees festooned with damp clothes, while we enjoyed the luxury of cooking in daylight. After dinner Edd demonstrated his Forest School skills in firelighting and we were soon warmed by a well made fire.
    The next morning was dry and brighter.


    We were all refreshed after a comfortable evening and night and were on the water early. The only disappointment was the lack of Great Danes for Gordon, but he was able to survive! The main challenge of the day was the Grantown rapids, which I had felt a bit intimidated by on a previous visit. We took a more circuitous line, avoiding the biggest waves, and got through with no problem. Soon we relaxed into the routine of paddling, helped along by the current and wind. Photographing the photographer.


    The Kings hut.


    Line astern.

    Line abreast.


    We had made excellent time and decided to camp early. No one was in a hurry so we stopped at lunchtime just before Cragganmore. There was a pleasant, isolated spot with a choice of tent or hammock.



    I got the firebox going.


    Edd had an afternoon of whittling. He produced a lot of kindling and a spoon!



    Meanwhile Steve had a new silicon liner for his oven (I was beginning to see why their canoes were so loaded) and produced absolutely delicious chocolate brownies. I was very impressed!


    Gordon produced a huge amount of Chicken Marengo, which he shared with me, forcing me to wash it down with several mugs of wine. While we got inebriated, Steve produced a pie in his oven (he seemed to like eating in the wrong order) then joined us with more wine. For me this was turning into the most enjoyable trip!

    The wine flowed, stories were told and all was well.


    To be continued. (Iíve lost it once already!)



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  2. #2

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    Good effort guys. I live near Spey Bay and am always amazed at the amount of vans and canoe trailers left there at varying levels!
    I suppose if you have travelled a long way you must commit.
    Have traversed many a time by canoe and Packraft and still regards it as a world buck list must do.
    The Dee and the Tay a close second.
    Although I believe the Wye is also in high regard?


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  3. #3
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    Superb. Glad to see some culinary skills on show also, highly important to such trips.

    I have a feeling that somewhere in Scotland there are now two Great Danes with PTSD.
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  4. #4
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    Part two.

    The next morning everyone was well, considering! We got going and on the water in an efficient but relaxed way.





    Just around the corner we arrived at the Washing Machine and jumped out for a look. Since Gordon had his throw bag in hand we volunteered him as safety man and photographer for the rest of us.
    Steve went first.


    Followed by me. I was trying to slow down for the big waves, as suggested by Ray Goodwin on Facebook the night before!


    Then Edd, looking relaxed.


    Then it was Gordonís turn.


    The safety man had become bored and wanted some target practice.

    That had been great fun, so we headed on for more. Knockando rapids were next. They felt more technical but less intimidating. We were all going well and paddled through without difficulties. An early lunch seemed appropriate so we sat and watched some novice kayakers go through their paces. Supplemented by the Aían, the river had plenty of pace. We traveled quickly between rapids, occasionally stopping for a bit of bailing, but generally in good form. Having had an early lunch, we decided to have a late lunch at Aberlour.
    Steve rang out his socks.


    Then, having spread ourselves around, it rained again. The upside was the rainbows.


    Back on the river the next sight was the grand old bridge at Craigellachie.


    We began to see the red, clay cliffs that are common in this area.


    Camp that night was again an isolated wood, just past Rothes. The ground was flat, but there was stinging nettles to catch the unwary. Weíd had a long and exciting day, everyone was tired and the weather was definitely getting colder, with a chilly Northwesterly wind. In the trees it was sheltered and we had a pleasant evening.


    Gordon wasnít feeling 100%, but stayed up long enough to enjoy a nip of Aultmore. Iíd brought this along because itís made near the mouth of the river and seemed appropriate for our last evening. Gordonís radio had promised Northern Lights but a thin cloud cover had hidden any display from us.
    The final day dawned cold but dry. We all had a good routine going and Gordon was feeling better. Heíd bivvied next to the river the last two nights, so we were always interested to see if he had stumbled in during a night time toilet visit. Gladly he had more sense!

    Forgotten something.


    Boats and gear reunited.


    More red earth cliffs.



    Edd puts his back into an uphill section.


    It took us an hour to reach Fochabers. Here the landscape changes again and becomes more opened out.

    Thin soils.


    We didnít have far to go so stopped on a shingle bank for a last brew.


    The Garmouth bridge. One mile to the sea.


    Looking North to the sea.


    And a final team photo.


    For me it had been an outstanding experience, a great river trip with excellent company. Gordon, Steve and Edd were lovely companions and I cannot thank them enough for welcoming me into their group. Itís difficult to get across in a blogg, but we all had a really good laugh, which is what itís all about. Weíve kept in touch; letís see where the next trip takes us.

    Thanks for reading. Mike




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  5. #5
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    Mal, I think you’re right about the dogs!

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    Excellent blog, looks like a fun trip. Many thanks.

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    ENjoyed that. I must do the top half of the Spey sometime, only done from Grantown down. Looks like you had a good level.
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  8. #8

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    Hi Bananas, thanks for writing up the trip. I enjoyed the company and the river. It has been on my bucket list to paddle for 40 years. I will be doing it again, possibly in March.
    Thanks Mike.


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    Cyaker

  9. #9
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    We've done the Spey from Newtonmore to the sea a few years ago and it recently got back on our to-do list.
    Reading this blogg promoted the Spey to my "MUST-do" list.


  10. #10
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    New friends and a great canoe trip, what’s not to like? Great blogg too.
    John

    I started at the bottom and I like it here

  11. #11
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    Brilliant blog to read in my lunchbreak.

    What a great chance encounter, well done all.
    Big Al.

    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money.
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

  12. #12
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    Brilliantly written, a joy to read and great pics too. Lifted my spirit at a sad point in my life. Thanks for sharing.

  13. #13
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    Ahhh the Spey, now this takes me back, great bloggage Mr Banana boat: so many canoe journeys to be done in Scotland I'm not sure if we have time to go back and do the Spey again (unless I can convince Mrs Tim we need a bigger boat and she comes with me )
    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

  14. #14
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    Great blog of what I consider to be the best river trip in the UK! Your tale brought back many good memories, so thanks for sharing your adventure with us.
    Juvanile delinkwit, vaguely faffing around with a pair of pliers. Du skal ikke tro at du er bedre end mig!

  15. #15
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    I thought this was an interesting follow up...
    Bid to trace owners of iconic Craigellachie Bridge
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotlan...tland-41941126
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotlan...tland-41941126

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bananaboat View Post
    I thought this was an interesting follow up...
    Bid to trace owners of iconic Craigellachie Bridge
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotlan...tland-41941126
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotlan...tland-41941126
    Can I claim it?


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    Cyaker

  17. #17
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    Sorry, Bananaboat, I cannot see any photos.

    I'll look in again to see if it is sorted.

    I did a trip at the end of Nov. with 3 friends, the Spey was quite bouncy.

    Chris B has written a blog and I will add to it soon.

    Doug
    When there's trouble on shore, there's peace on the wave,
    Afloat in the White Canoe.
    Alan Sullivan


  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougoutcanoe View Post
    Sorry, Bananaboat, I cannot see any photos.

    I'll look in again to see if it is sorted.

    I did a trip at the end of Nov. with 3 friends, the Spey was quite bouncy.

    Chris B has written a blog and I will add to it soon.

    Doug
    Thanks for alerting me to the photo situation. I’ve no idea what is going on. I can see some of them... I’ll see what I can do.

    I was impressed with your wintery trip. We had cold NW winds on the last couple of days, but nothing to compare with hail in the face! Look forward to reading your contribution to the blogg.

  19. #19
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    Cheers,

    Doug
    When there's trouble on shore, there's peace on the wave,
    Afloat in the White Canoe.
    Alan Sullivan


  20. #20

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    Thanks for alerting me to the photo situation. I’ve no idea what is going on
    I could see them when you first posted but they've disappeared now. I extracted the photo addresses from the html code and tried to view them individually, but they don't seem to exist. Even https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/ gives an error, so I think the problem may be on the tapatalk server.

  21. #21
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    YEah, all photos gone for me too I'm afraid. Where were they hosted?
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    YEah, all photos gone for me too I'm afraid. Where were they hosted?
    The blogg is written on Tapatalk. The photos are held on my iPad and cloud account. It’s bizarre because I can see some of them on the blogg, but can’t understand what has happened. I’m wondering if Tapatalk wants me to start playing them money. It’s been free so far...

  23. #23

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    Duplicate post, sorry
    Last edited by Chris_B; 8th-December-2017 at 11:07 PM.

  24. #24

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    They look like they're all there now, bananaboat (I counted 56). When you loaded them up, tapatalk copied them off your iPad/cloud onto their server; if you right click on one and copy the image address, you can see from the address that it's hosted on tapatalk (eg)

    https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/201...3b4206d8f0.jpg

    So I think it's just that they've had a glitch on their server, and they've fixed it.

  25. #25
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    I hope you can get them showing again.

    It's rather laborious viewing them one at a time and trying to remember where one is up to.

    The few I have viewed look good.

    Thanks,

    Doug
    When there's trouble on shore, there's peace on the wave,
    Afloat in the White Canoe.
    Alan Sullivan


  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_B View Post
    They look like they're all there now, bananaboat (I counted 56). When you loaded them up, tapatalk copied them off your iPad/cloud onto their server; if you right click on one and copy the image address, you can see from the address that it's hosted on tapatalk (eg)

    https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/201...3b4206d8f0.jpg

    So I think it's just that they've had a glitch on their server, and they've fixed it.

    Yeah, showing again for me
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  27. #27
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    Nope, I've still got the little blue square with ? in it.

    Doug
    When there's trouble on shore, there's peace on the wave,
    Afloat in the White Canoe.
    Alan Sullivan


  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougoutcanoe View Post
    Nope, I've still got the little blue square with ? in it.

    Doug
    Weird!

    I'm using Google Chrome, not sure if it makes any difference.
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  29. #29

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    Works for me in Chrome and Firefox - if you can only see blue squares, try clearing the cache.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_B View Post
    Works for me in Chrome and Firefox - if you can only see blue squares, try clearing the cache.
    Thanks Chris, cache cleared and now I can see the photos. Strange things these confuseder machines....... Oh! and I'm on Safari, at least it feels like it, sometimes, with my voyages into the unknown.

    Doug
    When there's trouble on shore, there's peace on the wave,
    Afloat in the White Canoe.
    Alan Sullivan


  31. #31
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    Well, I can see the photos and read the blog. Thoroughly enjoyed it all. Very reminiscent of my recent trip on the Spey but the snow, ice, wind and hail is missing

    Thanks for posting,

    Doug
    When there's trouble on shore, there's peace on the wave,
    Afloat in the White Canoe.
    Alan Sullivan


  32. #32
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    This looked like it might be worthy of a trip back across the pond for. Excellent. Brought back some great memories of my days in Scotland,

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