Spey – The Final Part

Craigellachie to Spey Bay

After a great night in the pub we woke and everyone settled into their routine of breakfast, packing, sorting the tent or bivi, teeth and the facilities. There was a different mood in the air, yes it was a bit chilly but this was different. It was our last day. 5 Days ago when we left Kingussie it seemed so far off, so much to enjoy, so much to take in and now it was nearly over.

We carried the kit to the river, packed our boats, did the last day group photos and we were off. By now the river and our surroundings were very different. The river was wider and the bank were flatter, more civilisation and more fishermen.

As we paddled off we were pretty much paddling as a single group on the this last day. It was not long till we started to smell the sea air, there were occasional wafts of a sea breeze, then it would go again. It was quite pleasant, unusual to catch it for a brief moment then it would be a while till it was there again but it got more frequent the closer we got to the coast.

The river was becoming quite different as well, there were lots of gavel banks, which would split the river into multiple channels. These would clearly change with the next flood and we were always checking to see which change had enough water to paddle all the way through, or which would had an interesting route down. Maybe a wave or good breakout lay out of sight. There were lots of wild life on this final section, Ospreys, Oyster Catchers, Sand Martins and Sparrows to name but a few. It was a more relaxing section, very enjoyable paddle but quite different to the start of the week.

There was far more evidence of bank erosion, where the river was carving the bank away and trees were either in or about to fall in the river. By the golf course, the soil under the grass of part of the fairway has been eroded and the top layer of soil, with the grass, was carpet like and hanging over the edge by about half a meter, this was for most of the bend. Then there were the very high banks were the Sand Martins were nesting in the sandy layers of the soil. From a distance you could see the yellow of the Rape Seed growing, right up to the edge then below this the soil was peppered with the entrance holes to the Sand Martin nests, but of course these were only in the soft sandy soil, which was in layers of the soil. It was all very interesting.

We stopped for lunch on a nice looking gravel bank with great views of the river, both up and down stream. There was still a different mood and the conversation through the morning had been about the week so far, the great week so far.

The afternoon was very similar to the morning, gravel banks splitting the river, interesting channels being created, the odd wave or interesting route and break out as well as the sea air becoming more frequent and stronger.

Then we rounded a bend, this was it, the end. The coast, Spey Bay and the sea. We all went to the right, and then some of us decided to paddle out to the sea, well to the coats line. It was an out going tide so none of us wanted to get caught on the out going tide. So off we went. Catching a bit of surf on the waves watching the tide and current. Then it seemed quite sudden from being a river to the coast. It was now the sea, the North Sea.

Well I sat there for a few moments to take it all in. Wow, what a trip. In the grand scheme of things that people do in this world it pales into insignificance. But for me, the club, the world right now, my world at that moment in time. It felt fantastic.

We paddle the short distance to the get out. As the club usually does, we got our selves organised. The vehicles were bought round, kit sorted, trailer loaded and we were ready for a coffee in the tea rooms.

After the coffee we headed back to Aviemore and our last night before the long drive home. We stayed in the bunkhouse and had booked a table in the Italian All You Can Eat restaurant. There were stories from eveyone of their experience, what they enjoyed, their best bit, their favourite bit, the funny bit and so on. There was a recurring comment. Shall we do it again….now. We all wanted to get up in the morning, go to Kingussie and paddle to Spey Bay.

The next day was fairly straight forward. Get up. Breakfast at the climbing Cafe. Tesco for supplies. Get in the vehicles. Drive the 8 hours to Pershore in one go only stopping for fuel and driver change. So we did.

As a final note I would just like to say a very big thank you to Caroline and Matt Rea for their work in organising the trip. I would also like to say thanks to all my fellow paddlers who made the trip so enjoyable. Everyone helped everyone else. Everyone looked out for everyone else. Everyone made the trip such fun for everyone else.

So the only remaining question is this, where next. Suggestions on a postcard or email to WKCC World Tour Committee.