Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Blog

Best Places to Go White Water Rafting in Scotland

rafters on the river findhorn

Love white water rafting? With 11 major rivers set in stunning natural surroundings, Scotland offers some of the top rafting experiences in the UK. Whether you’re looking for challenging grade five rapids or a serene trip on a calm stretch of water, here’s a guide to the best white water rafting Scotland has to offer.

Rafting on the River Findhorn

Rapids: up to grade five.

Suitable for: all white water rafting levels.

The Findhorn is one of the longest rivers in Scotland and many claim it’s also the most beautiful. As a wild river that isn’t dam controlled, the Findhorn offers some of the best year-round rafting opportunities in the UK. The river starts in the Monadhliath Mountains and flows north-east to Findhorn Bay, reaching the sea in Moray Firth.

Experience a mix of grade three to five rapids, with different sections to suit various skill levels. The Findhorn is in its prime during spring and autumn after high rainfall, but it’s also one of the only Scottish rivers where rafting trips above grade three run all year round. There are three main sections to raft on the River Findhorn:

  • Upper Findhorn – this 11.4 km section runs from Drynachan to Ardclach and boasts exciting grade four, and in some conditions, grade five rapids. Start at the Cawdor Estate and pass through two striking gorges over three hours.
  • Middle Findhorn – running from Ardclach to Daltullich Bridge, this trip takes around two hours and has quiet sections with grade three rapids such as Sleeping Whale and Dragon’s Tooth. This makes the middle Findhorn a good option for family rafting trips and beginners.
  • Lower Findhorn – this seven km stretch of the river starts at Daltullich Bridge and runs to Sluie, passing through gorges and ancient forests. ACE is the only company to run rafting trips on the lower Findhorn, which features demanding grade four and five rapids. The trip has an expedition feel and lasts up to five hours.

Rafting on the River Spey

Rapids: up to grade three.

Suitable for: gentle rafting, canoeing and kayaking.

The River Spey is renowned mainly for salmon fishing and whisky production, as well as its unspoilt surrounding countryside and wildlife habitats. Scotland’s third-longest river also offers calm rafting opportunities perfect for beginners and families looking for a peaceful introduction to the sport. The Spey is more popular for canoeing and kayaking trips, along with the River Findhorn.

The main rafting section on the River Spey starts at Ballindalloch and finishes at Knockando, an 11 km trip with grade two rapids and gentle gradients. Trips take around two hours and can be run all year, with flat sections that take you through lush Caledonian forest.

White water rafting Scotland River Tay

Rapids: up to grade three.

Suitable for: intermediate or beginner with guide.

This mighty river, the longest in Scotland, starts as a spring on Ben Lui and runs through Loch Tay to its mouth, the Firth of Tay beneath Dundee. The Tay is Scotland’s most rafted river given that it lies so close to Edinburgh and Glasgow. It’s also one of the country’s big five salmon rivers and carries more water than the Thames and Severn combined.

Most rafting companies, including ACE, run a trip from the small Highland town of Aberfeldy along roughly six miles of the Tay. This part of the river has long, slow stretches ideal for playing games, practising paddling and taking in the scenery. There’s also a 200-metre section of grade two and three rapids to finish such as Zoom Flume, Washing Machine and the Grandully.

White water rafting Scotland River Tummel

Rapids: up to grade four.

Suitable for: intermediate and experienced rafters.

The dam-released River Tummel offers guaranteed grade three and four white water rafting trips during the summer months. Sourced from Loch Rannoch, the water is used in the Tummel hydro-electric power scheme. Starting on the first weekend in June, the dam is released on Saturday and Sunday every week until the end of September.

Come to the Tummel for grade three rapids such as Shark’s Tooth and Zig Zag set along a four-mile section, perfect for intermediate and experienced rafters. The River Tummel rafting trip starts from the Clunie Power Station and the climax is a grade four, two-tier, 18ft-waterfall that drops dramatically into Loch Faskally.

River Garry white water rafting Scotland

Rapids: grades three and four.

Suitable for: intermediate and experienced rafters.

The River Garry originates from Loch Garry and is a major tributary of the River Tummel. As a dam-released river, the Garry has guaranteed water releases once a week from March to October. Water levels rise by a metre when the dam is opened, producing grade three and four rapids that are ideal for adventurous rafters. The big six rapids on the River Garry include Surf’s Up, Double or Quits, Hey Diddle Diddle and the Tunnel of Love.

White water rafting on the River Moriston

Rapids: grades four and five.

Suitable for: skilled rafters.

Only experienced rafters should attempt the River Moriston, which features thrilling grade four and five rapids with bedrock waterfalls. In fact, the river’s name translates from Gaelic into English as: the river of waterfalls. Starting at Loch Ness, the river runs south-west to Loch Cluanie, with rafting trips usually starting from the village of Invermoriston.

The river is dam released and one of Scotland’s most challenging places for white water rafting, with fast-flowing water that washes around black volcanic rocks, through pine and Caledonian forest. The dam is released once a week, usually on Tuesdays, between April and September. During particularly high flows, the entire river is classed as grade five.

River Orchy river rafting Scotland

Rapids: grades three to five.

Suitable for: expert rafters.

If you’re looking for some of the wildest, most extreme white water rafting Scotland can offer, head to the River Orchy. Located near Fort William, the river passes through the Black Mount Forest, Loch Tulla and Glen Orchy all the way to Loch Awe. The river is at its fullest and fastest from October to March after lots of rain.

The popular, 12-mile rafting section of the Orchy has grade five waterfall drops like the Easan Dubha (black falls) and End of Civilisation. Only accomplished rafters should negotiate these tricky sections, as well as grade three and four rapids including Witch’s Step and Sore Tooth. As you raft, you’ll be nestled between mountains with black lava rocks, in alpine-style scenery.

Planning on white water rafting Scotland? ACE adventures rafting trips cater for all abilities on the rivers Findhorn, Tay and Tummel with qualified guides.