Open Canoe Hire

Explore Highland offer open canoe hire throughout the Scottish Highlands for the likes of the Great Glen Canoe Trail, River Spey Descent, Loch Sheil, Loch Maree, Loch Ness and Glen Affric Nature Reserve.

Canoes available for hire are a fleet of 16′ Hou Prospector canoes fitted with either a solo kneeling thwart or an additional thwart, central carry yoke, as well as two wooden webbed seats for tandem paddling, All canoes come with fitted bow & stern floatation blocks, a 5 metre painter, and a swim tail.

By providing only the best equipment and support, you can be sure that your hire equipment will really make your canoeing adventure holiday with Explore Highland that wee bit special.

Canoe Hire Kit

Explore Highland includes the following kit FREE OF CHARGE when requested with all canoe hires;

    • Suitable sized buoyancy aid (with whistle) for all canoeists
    • Suitable sized paddle for solo, bow, and stern canoeists
    • Spare canoe paddle issued per canoe hire
    • a 60-litre waterproof barrel per canoe hired for multiday/expedition use
    • a canoe portage trolley with securing straps for all Great Glen Canoe Trail hires
    • a security cable & padlock for when you want to lock up your canoe and go a wandering
    • a 5-metre kit lashing strap to help secure your dry bags and barrel into your canoe
    • a sponge & bailer per canoe hired
    • a kneeling mat for all solo canoeists
    • a tandem downwind sailing kit supplied per tandem canoe
    • a solo canoe sailing kit (suitable for canoes with a foot mast fitted) for solo canoeists
    • a water carrier per group
    • a toilet kit per group including loo roll, trowel & hand sanitiser

Please complete the downloadable Canoe Kit List and submit it at the time of booking so your kit is reserved along with your craft.

Canoe Hire Costs

Explore Highland canoe hire charges for April 2023 onwards are;

  • One & two-day hires are no longer being accepted. Guided options are available with sufficient lead in booking time.
  • Three days – £150
  • Four days – £175
  • Five days  – £200

For longer hires, please add £30 per day.

*During peak season, single canoe bookings may not be accepted.

Canoe Use & Care

When hiring a canoe, similarly to when hiring a car you are to use it responsibly. We do expect some minor wear and tear, however, hirers should ensure that care and attention are given when moving and handling the canoe on land, transferring the canoe from land to water, and vice versa. Launching and landing the canoe generally does mean you have to walk out into shallow water to save dragging the canoe hull up on the beach. Only those skilled enough should look to paddle on moving or whitewater as the consequences of paddling into rocks and even pinning the boat around a rock are much greater. A wrapped canoe is where it has hit a rock and the water pressure wraps or folds the canoe around it. A wrap significantly damages the canoe to the point it is no longer structurally sound to use again and has to be written off!

Similar to the canoe kit list and additional kit list where RRP value is clearly listed. Any broken items are charged parts & labour to be fixed if possible, or replace if past the point of financial or physical repair. The common issues and chargeable costs associated with misuse of the canoe are listed below.

  • Large scrape – £30
  • Broken thwart/kneeling thwart – £50
  • Scrape through the outer layer to white – £80
  • Dint in bow or stern – £80
  • Broken seat – £80
  • Splitting/cracking of inner layer, including inappropriate trolley use – £100
  • Canoe lost – £1500
  • Canoe wrapped/folded – £1500
  • Recovery of a wrapped canoe from a river – £200

At the time of hire Explore Highland and the hirer will check and confirm the condition of the canoe and any issues/damage recorded via note, photo, and/or video.

Explore Highland strongly suggests all hirers are suitable skilled in the use of the craft, in the environment they intend to use it before hiring. The hirer may also look at taking out their own insurance policy the cover themselves for any unforeseen eventualities to cover any damage caused when paddling or additional damage charges that may be levied due to misuse of hire kit.

Canoe Hire Terms & Conditions

  1. Canoe hire is offered on the basis that hirers are appropriately experienced and qualified in the craft being hired, including safety & rescue of craft, kit, and group, in the environment being paddled. No instruction or safety cover is included with hire.
  2. Canoe Floatation wedges are fitted to the bow & stern of all canoes hired. These should NOT be removed or interfered with by the hirer at any time.
  3. Buoyancy aids are issued free of charge with all hires. All hire canoeists are required to be at the collection/drop-off point to ensure all are fitted with a suitably sized buoyancy aid. These are required to be worn at all times when on the water canoeing.
  4. £100 refundable security deposit is required per canoe at the time of hire. This is taken via online payment and refunded when all hire kit is returned and check to be in the same condition it was hired out.
  5. Should any hire kit be lost or damaged during the hire period, the charge for each item is clearly listed in the Canoe Kit List should a repair not be possible. Repair costs will also be chargeable including labour. Should there be damage to the canoe itself, the following charges apply – See Canoe Use & Care section above.
  6. A minimum of 14 days’ notice is required for all hires during peak season (March to October). Please see the online diary for Donald’s availability as longer may be required as frequently away guided multiday adventure holidays with little to no signal.
  7. Hire Agreement terms & conditions are listed above and visible on the payment portal at the time of paying the security deposit. By paying the security deposit, the hirer is agreeing to all hire terms and conditions.
  8. Drop off/collection service is also available when booked at the same time as your hire.

For those with limited to no canoeing experience, Donald runs regular half-day and full-day trips plus offers bespoke guided adventure holidays which include coaching, guiding, transport, and safety cover.

Booking Your Open Canoe Hire

You can enquiry about your open canoe hire & shuttle service availability by completing the provisional booking form on the contact page!

Responsible Access

When out paddling under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, you must take responsibility for your own actions on and off the water. Further details can also be found online at, but Donald can help by providing you with further local knowledge on responsible access at the time of hire also. This includes parking, access and egress location, wild camping, and campfires etiquette in the Highlands.

As a responsible business, open canoe hire is only available to those with paddling and safety experience in craft & intended environments. For those who have no experience or looking at venturing into unknown waters, a professional guiding service is available.

Alternatively, Donald can offer a skills/safety training workshop for those wishing to hire canoes without any experience.