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White Water Rafting from Aviemore, Scotland: River Findhorn and the River Spey; Which is Best?

An ACE Adventure raft running the grade 4 Levens Gorge Rapid on the River Findhorn near Aviemore in Scotland

Some of the best white water rafting in the UK can be found near Aviemore, Scotland, with the River Spey and the River Findhorn both popular destinations. But how do you differentiate between the best and worst white water rafting locations, and how do you ensure you are accessing the best possible experience? This honest blog dispels some of the myths surrounding white water rafting from Aviemore.

With a number of websites offering white water rafting adventure activities from Aviemore, there is a wide range of choice available. However, it is not always easy to identify what will be a good day of rafting and what will be an awesome one!

Putting a cat amongst the pigeons, Jim Davis, managing Director and Founder of ACE Adventures – specialists in outdoor activities and adventures in Scotland – discusses the differing rafting experiences available on two of the areas most popular rivers.

a group of people standing in front of a building

White Water Rafting on the River Spey

The River Spey runs through Aviemore, however the section that is rafted begins 30 miles downstream, starting at Ballindalloch and finishing at Knockando.

Although the River Spey can be run year round, it is much more suited to open canoeing than white water rafting due to the gentle gradients and slower water flow. It makes for an excellent multi day canoeing experience with a gentle grade 2 gradient and pleasant country side views of the broad Spey valley.

Due to these long flat sections, it is a bit of a stretch to call the Spey a white water rafting trip, with little opportunity to cause much of a splash other than with your paddle. The trips typically take around two hours on the water.

There is a Grade 1 float trip from Aviemore to Boat of Garten which offers pleasant countryside scenery. However in our experience at ACE, when we originally offered this trip, customer feedback suggested the two and a half to three hour journey time over the 11km course was too long because of the slow moving water.

White Water Rafting on the River Findhorn

The River Findhorn has three sections ideally suited for white water rafting, making it the best year round rafting in the UK! It offers grade 3 to grade 5 white water rafting on a completely natural, wild river that has no dams or weirs. Find out more about our White Water Rafting and Cliff Jumping!

a man standing next to a waterfall

There is a wild and mysterious feel to the River Findhorn, claimed by numerous authors as the most beautiful river in Scotland. Each of the three sections compliment each other so no matter what the water level is, an awesome white water rafting experience will be enjoyed.

A common myth that the river can not be rafted in low water is very much a half truth.

Drynachan to Ardclach

Known as the Top & Upper Findhorn and 11.4 km long with grade 4 and, in flood conditions grade 5, rapids takes around three hours on the water. Starting on Cawdor Estate and passing through finishing in Glenferness Estate. This section is ideal in medium to high flow levels 0.4m and above in the SEPA Shenachie river level gauge. Best run when the lower section is too full to navigate safely.

Best feature: Passes through two of the three dramatic gorges of the River Findhorn

a group of people riding on the back of a boat

Ardclach to Daltullich Bridge

Known as the Middle Findhorn and 6.5km long with grade 3 rapids taking around two hours on the water. The section is not suitable in water levels below 0.17 and we advise choosing another low water activity or joining the Daltullich Bridge to Sluie rafting trip.

Best feature: Ideal introduction into real white water rafting suitable for people as young as 5.

a person on a raft in a body of water

Daltullich Bridge to Sluie

Known as the Lower Findhorn, at 7km long and with grade 4 and grade 5 rapids, it takes around three and a half hours on the water. The rafting trip passes through spectacular gorge scenery and one of the oldest forests in Scotland. Numerous rapids and at least one compulsory portage give this white water rafting trip an expedition feel in a remote and wild landscape. There are also suitable locations to stop and do some cliff jumping along the way!

Best feature: The best year round rafting trip in the UK with excellent cliff jumping.

a man riding a motorcycle on a raft

ACE Adventure was the first Visit Scotland Quality Assurance 5 star activity provider and is committed to deliver exceptional customer service. They lead the industry in providing the strongest value white water rafting trips with fully qualified international rafting federation trip leaders and friendly guides. Check out the reviews on TripAdvisor and Facebook and for accurate detailed information on white water rafting on the River Findhorn visit