Whisky Magazine Issue 87
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Robin Laing joins a group of enthusiasts heading up the Spey with paddles.
Earlier this year, six adventurers /lunatics (Mark Watt, Ian Gray and his partner Biggi, Claire Couttie, John MacCheyne and myself) canoed down the Spey over four days, stopping at various dramming places along the way. We were accompanied by two instructors (semi-lunatics) Graham McCullough and Rob Waddell (Yooglu) who supplied canoes, equipment and considerable expertise. It might be an exaggeration to say that we owe them our lives, but certainly without their help the trip could not have been such a success.
Day 1 – Ralia to Kincraig Ralia owner, Robin Lambie, kindly supplied us with pack lunches and our choice of miniatures; clutching our selections we headed for the river. After demonstrations from Rob and Graham (e.g.
which end of the paddle to stick in the water) we launched the four canoes and let the river carry us away. We were immediately into some fast water and completely forgot about being cold and wet – the fear of death is a great distracter from minor discomforts, a lesson we would learn again.
Kingussie has numerous pubs, but the obvious choice for us was the Silverfjord (aka ‘the Silly'). Biggi looked worried, “Do we have to drink whisky at every stop?” Relieved that this was not in the rules, she ordered hot chocolate.
Next, we had a long paddle through the Insch Marshes; slack water, swallows and sandpipers everywhere, the hypnotic rhythm of paddling had me dreaming of being a galley slave.
Eventually, we came to the open water of Loch Ins...