Loch Tay and River Tay Descent
A five day and four night wild camping expedition along Loch Tay and the River Tay, finishing in Perth
- 2023 departure dates – August 14th.
- 2024 departure dates – August 5th and August 26th.
Moderately challenging trip, suitable for water confident people with some paddling experience prior. Meet at 07:45 in Newtonmore, finish at 4pm in Perth (or 5pm in Newtonmore) on the final day.
River Tay Canoe Descent
The Loch & River Tay canoe descent journeys from the central highlands of Killin down to Perth, Lowland Scotland. Passing through Perthshire’s most beautiful countryside the River Tay is Scotland’s largest volume river. It’s a diverse journey crossing the 23 kilometres of Loch Tay under the shadow of Ben Lawers and entering the River Tay at Kenmore. In addition to the river journey you can visit historic sites of interest, Crannog centre and the Cathedral at Dunkeld.
Important Information / Grade & Experience
The river Tay canoe descent is a 5 day and 4 night paddling journey. By their very nature journeys on the water can be affected by weather and other environmental factors. Your guide/s may have to alter the itinerary to ensure group safety.
This trip is moderately challenging. The open waters of Loch Tay can be tough in windy conditions but can be sailed making it relatively relaxing. The white water sections are mainly fun and straight-forward. River skills can be picked up as the journey progresses downstream and gets progressively more challenging. There are a couple of grade 2 or 2/3 rapids, however these can be inspected and portaged easily. No previous experience is required for the river tay canoe descent however we do recommend some previous paddling or white water experience. We can offer 1 or 2 day canoe skills courses prior to your trip is you wish.
River Tay Canoe Descent Itinerary
|Depart Day 1||Meet at Cairngorms Adventure Centre (Newtonmore) at 7:30am ready for an 8am departure|
|Arrive Day 5||Trip finishes in Perth at around 4pm, return to Cairngorms Adventure Centre at around 5pm.|
|Day 1||Killin to Eilean nam Ban-naomh|
Our journey begins at the east end of Loch Tay at the picturesque village of Killin, famous for the Falls of Dochart which flow through the village into Loch Tay. We hope to take advantage of Scotland’s dominant westerly winds to enable us to sail down the loch beneath the mighty Ben Lawers, towering some 1200 meters above us. As we approach Kenmore we will visit the Crannog – an ancient dwelling built over the loch dating back some 5,000 years. We will make camp on the lovely island, opposite the Crannog, of Eilean nam Ban-naomh, ‘Isle of Holy Women’ with its 12th century remains of a nunnery and castle.
|Day 2||Eilean nam Ban-naomh to Grandtully|
A day steeped in history. We take a short paddle to the mainland and take time to stroll through the village of Kenmore with its old buildings and Scotland’s oldest Inn built in 1572. Here you can still see a poem written and inscribed in pencil on the fireplace by Robert Burns himself during a visit to Kenmore in 1787. Continuing down river we soon come to the Chinese falls – a fun grade 2 rapid. Beyond here we pass Taymouth castle built in 1862. The next few miles contain some fun minor rapids before reaching Aberfeldy. Here we paddle under Wade’s bridge, built by General Wade in 1733, to help connect his military road network used to suppress the Scots. Beyond Aberfeldy we come to the best section of the river for white water; there are many grade 2 rapids before reaching the grade 3 Grandtully rapid which can be easily portaged if preferred. We will camp here for the night.
|Day 3||Grandtully to Dunkeld|
You will have the chance this morning to run the Grandtully rapid one more time before heading off towards Dunkeld. The next section is quieter with occasional gentle rapids as the valley floor widens and the river merges with the River Tummel. We soon reach the historic town of Dunkeld where we will camp tonight and take some time to see the Cathedral built between 1260 and 1501. The streets around the cathedral is where the battle of Dunkeld took place in 1689 between the Jacobites and a government regiment of Covenanters.
|Day 4||Dunkeld to Inchtuthill|
Today we travel through the farmlands and forests of the Tay valley but before heading off we will take a short walk to the Hermitage and the Falls of Braan. This forest is home to Britain’s tallest trees – these mighty Douglas Firs stand over 200 feet high and are protected by the National Trust for Scotland. Further down river the scenery changes dramatically – as we pass Caputh the scenery becomes more like a sea estuary for a while. This area is home to thousands of nesting birds. At Inchtuthill we can see the remains of an ancient roman fortress built by Agricola in 82AD as an advance base in his campaign against the Caledonian tribes. We will make camp at a convenient site in this area.
|Day 5||Inchtuthill to Perth|
Our final day and another day of diversity. This section flows through stretches of steep tree-lined banks. where it meanders for a couple of miles until we reach its confluence with the River Isla, flowing down from the Angus Glens. For those of us who enjoy white water paddling, the next 8 miles contains a succession of fun grade 2 rapids – a great experience on our last day. The final few miles to Perth are more gentle; our routes passes Scone Palace – once the crowning place of Scottish Kings and home to the Stone of Destiny. The final few miles flow gently into Perth where this mighty river system meets the North Sea.
Note – By their very nature journeys in remote or mountainous country can be affected by weather and other environmental factors. Your guide/s may have to alter the River & Loch Tay Canoe Descent Itinerary to ensure group safety.