If anyone feels like putting their relationship to the test then I would recommend hopping in to a canoe with them for four hours. Thankfully, we survived the test and had a brilliant day trip with Explore Highland, canoeing through Aigas Gorge near Beauly.
We launched at the Aigas Reservoir and, with unbelievably good weather, embarked on an adventure which almost immediately felt like we had entered a different world. The trip included ourselves, our new Maltese friends and Donald – our guide for the day who gave us friendly tips and banter throughout the afternoon.
Paddling upstream for the first half of the trip put our shoulders, steering and communication to the test. The wind was against us and at times it seemed like we were on a treadmill paddling to nowhere. But once the breeze had calmed, we came across an Osprey circling it’s nest high in the trees above – likely concerned that we were there to torment it’s chicks. We stayed still in our boats, mesmorised by it gliding above us (and secretly hoping it wasn’t going to divebomb… maybe that was just me…).
Paddling on to a tiny bank, we stopped for a welcome coffee break using an authentic camping stove and water from the river. Then, fully caffeinated and fuelled up on Oreos, we were ready to return to the water.
Slightly further upstream we passed a four-storey island mansion that had recently been in the headlines for dropping in value after a power line was installed across the wooded estate. We wouldn’t be dropping in for a party – but it looked like it could hold a really good one!
Further on, dragonflies, buzzards and tadpoles could be seen and three hours passed in the blink of an eye. The sun kept shining and it really was an idyllic way to spend an afternoon.
Circling the island took us away from the current towards more gentle waters, through Aigas Gorge, where we could more-or-less drift downstream. This gave us plenty of time to take photos and really take in the scenery without the boat spinning in circles or sailing in to the bank.
The water was calm and glassy coming back down the gorge and we paddled back to the reservoir with a zen that would rival buddhist monks. Pulling up to the bank, we hopped out of the canoes successfully with no wet feet and no lost paddles – a great trip for all involved.
I would highly recommend Explore Highland for any canoe, kayak or paddle boarding trips – Donald is an expert in this field, with a focus on small groups and you are guaranteed to see the best local scenery around the Highlands and Islands.