Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween from Spirit of the Spey

Spirit of the Spey witches you a Happy Halloween from here in spell-binding Strathspey - one of Scotland's very special haunts. Always very pleased to share with you the history and mysteries of magical Speyside at any time of the year.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Appreciating the beauty of North Scotland by Train.

Travelling by train to Aberdeen via Inverness.  Strathspey is stunningly beautiful this fine late October day.  The Grampians or Monadh Rhuadh (the red mountains), now more commonly referred to as The Cairngorms are radiant, kissed by the autumn sun.  Loch Irish reflects the deep blue of the clear sky - also a rich blue with only a few light brushstrokes of feathery white cloud.  Rail is such a lovely way to travel.  I must try to go by train more often.

Now passing the Tomatin Distillery with its many concrete-walled bonded warehouses - rather less attractive than the traditional buildings of many other distilleries.  Nonetheless, these hanger-like-sheds are constructed and functional for the purposes of storing hundreds of casks, containing many thousands of gallons of maturing whisky.  One Spanish sherry butt is likely to be worth over £500.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Delight of 'Autumn' on the River Spey.

Apart from a slight chill in the perfectly clear air and the beautiful autumnal colours provided by the trees ~ this could be August. Yet another beautiful, sunny day in picturesque Badenoch & Strathspey ~ with mainly blue skies, peppered only with a few thin, white clouds throughout the day. 

Great to be in the Cairngorm National Park ~ ~ truly a fantastic playground for families on school holidays and for all outdoor enthusiasts ~ whether scaling a crag, walking in the hills, canoeing on a river, cycling through a forest or hitting a ball on one of the many excellent Strathspey golf-courses.


Family Group Day on the River Spey.

This was one of those days highlighting how the River Spey is beautiful in all weathers. Some patches of blue sky but snow on the tops and some cold, strong, squally winds blowing around Badenoch & Strathspey. However, my little family group from Inverness were very happy in their canoes, wrapped up snugly in good outdoor clothing and sheltered within the embrace of Lady Spey's riverbanks, now richly coloured with autumn leaves on the birches, rowans and willows.

With Dad, Iain honing his solo-paddling skills and two sons Finlay (14) and Struan (12) paddling well as a tandem team ~ all 4 of us young boys thoroughly enjoyed our day on the Kincraig to Aviemore section of this wonderful river.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Our 3-Day Adventure with Lady Spey comes to an end.

This was my second time of facilitating a Spey Descent for Alan McNulty, Partner in Sheffmed ~ a surgical instrument supplies company based in Sheffield ~ and some of his staff.

This was my second time of facilitating a Spey Descent in October 2011 in stunning weather and with another group of lovely people. This 3-day 'At One With Nature' River Journey (camping en route) to the Moray Firth started on Tuesday from picturesque Broomhill Bridge, close to Broomhill Station ~ part of the Spey Steam train and location of Glenbogle Station in TV's 'Monarch of the Glen' series. .

We had glorious sunshine almost all day, every day. Throughout our Journey but especially in Moray, Lady Spey was draped in her beautiful Autumn cloak of yellows, ochre, golds and reds as the leaves of 2011 ~ particularly of birches, rowans, aspens and willows, said farewell to 2011. Overnight at our campsite by the Speyside Way ~ ~ at the disused railway station at Ballindalloch, the roof above our tents was a beautiful, clear starry sky and the surrounding countryside illuminated by a magnificent, almost-full moon. 

On Wednesday afternoon, following a relaxed lunch on the sun drenched grassy banks of the Spey by the confluence of the historic Lour Burn, the group very much enjoyed the most excellent tour provided always at Aberlour Distillery. The 'Aberlour 16' was the firm favourite amongst the group from expressions sampled at the end of the tour in Warehouse No 1. However, once back in the distillery shop the very smooth 'Aberlour 18' with more sherried overtones, took first place as best seller of the day amongst our group! Evening meal on Wednesday was a lovely bar-supper at Craigellachie's welcoming 'Highlander Inn' alias the Whisky Inn ~  With the now customary dram or two at the unique Fiddichside Inn

Yesterday as we stopped for refreshment, once again bathed in sunshine ~ this time just downstream of Rothes village, by Sourden Pool on Delfur Estate, members of the group were in awe of the huge number of salmon, now very dark in colour, leaping from the still, moody waters of this, one of the most majestic (~ probably my own personal most favourite) of Spey pools. 

Light winds, linked with high tide conditions at Spey Bay where the 'fresh meets the salt' meant that the group were able to paddle their craft on to the swell of the Moray Firth before coming ashore on to the remote shingle beach by the well preserved salmon-storage ice-houses at Tugnet.

All in all ~ yet another wonderful, diverse open-canoe Journey, incorporating skills coaching, social & natural history, close encounters with wildlife, whisky tasting & distillery visits on Scotland's most beautiful and ideal canoe touring river ~ the magnificent River Spey. By booking early, clients can normally select dates best for them and chose to stay B&B/hotels or camp. A natural, non-contrived team building experience, a Spey Journey by open-canoe is ideal for corporate groups.


Thursday, 13 October 2011

Great Spey Day On The River - the latest adventure.

This afternoon on Day 2 of our Spey Journey, we had tea at The Old Pantry in Aberlour followed by supper at the Whisky Inn - The Highlander Inn, Craigellac.  Great Spey Day!

Sheffmed staff enjoy the beautiful River Spey & a tour of Aberlour Distillery.

Day 2 of second excellent October 3-Day Spey Journey. Lovely weather - clear, blue skies and warm sunshine. Clients from medical supplies company Sheffmed thoroughly enjoyed todays rapids between Ballindalloch and  Craigellachie. Stop in Aberlour for comprehensive tour of Aberlour distlllery. Truly an excellent Spey Day.


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Robin McKelvie embraces Solo Paddling on the majestic River Spey in Scotland.

It was a pleasure to share time in canoes last Friday October 7th on the River Spey with Robin McKelvie ~ prominent Scottish Freelance writer and photographer. Having done a little paddling previously, Robin was keen to learn skills associated with open-canoeing and in particular solo paddling. Before very long Robin was master of his craft ~ looking cool into the bargain. Following on from the session on The River, Robin experienced a full Balvenie Malt whisky tasting.

Commissioned by VisitScotland, Robin is currently travelling the length and breadth of Scotland seeking out and writing about a wide variety of quality outdoor experiences across Scotland. To follow Robin's exploits across the country log-on to ~ tp://  

I would like to thank the staff at Visit Scotland, who helped set up this session with Robin. As well as appealing to seasoned outdoor enthusiasts, I feel certain Robin's on-line Outdoor Diary will inspire many people to responsibly take part in, for them, new and exciting outdoor activities.