Travel: White knuckle rafting in Scotland

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The sport of white water rafting has been growing in popularity in Scotland since the 1970s and has since become one of Europe’s favoured destinations for enthusiasts. The rapids of rivers such as the River Tummel attract thousands of newcomers and experienced rafters every year.

Scotland and white water rafting now go hand-in-hand for a number of reasons, not least the quality facilities and beautiful rural surroundings. The towns of Grandtully, Dunkeld and Averfeldy are home to highly skilled and qualified instructors and world-class facilities for both experienced rafters and beginners. Scotland is also home to dam-induced rapids, which means rafters don’t have to count on the right conditions to get moving downstream.

White water rafting isn’t a sport for the faint-hearted or unfit. The fast-paced nature of the sport literally means that anything can happen so there’s always an element of risk. You could fall overboard, which is why you need to be a strong swimmer, and there’s a risk of collisions as the boat steers around obstacles. For these reasons, a life jacket and safety helmet will always be issued before you step foot in a raft.

The risk of injury is minimised by using an experienced rafting company and starting off on rapids suited to beginners. Rapids are graded between 1 and 5, with 1 being the easiest and suitable for beginners.

With the growth of rafting as a recreational activity and a sport, there are now more options to get beginners started. Lazy rafters looking for cheap thrills without wasting energy can now use motorised rafts rather than the traditional human-powered raft. Although this is a good way for beginners to settle into the experience of riding a rapid without the added worry of steering and powering the raft, it does somewhat take away from the challenge and experience for many.

Splash White Water Rafting offers a wide range of rafting experiences for both beginner and experienced rafters. They can also organise stag and hen weekends and sponsored charity events.

For 2007, Splash recommends the River Tummel (for adults only) as new turbines in the dam system will produce outstanding big water rafting all through the summer. The main part of the trip is grade 2-3, which will ease you into the hair-raising finale of a grade 4, two-tier, 18ft drop into Loch Faskally. Splash offers a two-day break, including two activities and two-night’s accommodation, from £110 per person.