Crossing Scotland

Hi all,

I just returned from a packrafting trip in Scotland. I basically redid the trip Alastair Humphrey tried last winter: I walked from the west coast of Scotland (starting close to Mallaig) towards the east, to reach the source of the river Spey, which flows north east to the north Sea. I walked along the river to Newtonmore, from where I started to paddle.

Its a bit more than 150miles in length, which I completed in 6 long days. The first half (the hiking part) is incredible, going through some really remote areas. The paddling part was so-so; the landscape is MUCH more civilized. The river is quite large in width, but is mostly boring flatwater from the source until Aviemore; then there is a bit more action, with some rapids but nothing much above class II.

I posted pictures and my gear list on this page:


Great pictures.

I spent a month walking through Scotland last October (West Highland Way, Great Glen Way, more up in the Highlands) and I had a blast. There were times I would have really loved to have my packraft (Sandwood Bay) but the rivers looked pretty tame throughout. Like you said though - wondrous hiking.

Here is some video footage of the trip. There’s nothing fantastic, I don’t have video of the paddling part (I didn’t dare taking the camera out of the dry bag!), but it gives an idea of what the hiking part was like.

Nice vid Damien. It looks like you took the north pass over from Morar. How did the Dessarry river look?
I was back there on the weekend on the south side (Pean) which this time was high enough to run into Loch Arkaig. I can see why people talk about thigh straps…

Did you not paddle down to the sea then? That’s the best bit!

You need to get yourself a waterproof camera, amigo!
On the weekend a friend showed me his waterproof Canon D10 - never heard of it but looks just right for boating - no messing with waterproof boxes or bags.



Hey Chris,

I took the pass from Morar but not directly to Loch Nevis, I went up cross country over the hills towards the east, but as I went up the weather was turning bad, and not long after getting up there, I headed down to follow the coast. There were sheep tracks but that was painfully slow. Using the packraft there would have been appropriate, but the weather was so bad I wasn’t feeling like going on the water.

And no, I did not paddle the last kilometer down to the sea… kind of sad I know! On my map it showed the mouth of the river bordered by marsh grounds (?) and I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to walk out of that. And also, I would have missed the last bus of the day to get out of Garmouth!



Well done on this trip - glad you enjoyed it as much as I did!