River access point has green engineering makeover

Thanks to some ‘green engineering’ repair works completed at the end of November, canoeists, families and pub goers can now enjoy an improved experience down by the River Spey in Aviemore. The river itself is also a winner as the eroding banks are now stabilised and planted with willow to protect them from flooding, trailers and human feet, with new wildlife habitat created where there was previously just bare sand.
Over recent years the ‘beach’ area opposite the Old Bridge Inn in Aviemore had become more and more degraded through a combination of some severe floods and the impact of the many locals and visitors who use the popular beauty spot, which is also the main access point on this part of the river. As vegetation cover was lost the exposed banks became more vulnerable to further erosion from high waters, and the sandy area was becoming wider each year and increasingly unsafe and unsightly. SCI teamed up with Aviemore Community Enterprise Company (ACE) and other partners to secure funding from the Scottish Communities Landfill Fund via Suez Communities Trust. Contributions were also gratefully received from the landowner Reidhaven Estates, Cairngorms National Park Authority and the Andy Jackson Memorial Fund.
With funding in place, robust log terrace structures have been constructed to reinforce the sides and ramp of the launch site, with barrier posts installed to prevent canoe trailers from damaging the soft ground right next to the water. Willow spiling has been planted on the banks at either side and will grow to form a lasting defence against erosion as the roots bind the soil. The willow along with some enrichment tree planting will provide an attractive green backdrop for the site and new habitat for wildlife. The area remains perfectly accessible for paddlers, and by consulting the canoeing community throughout the process we’ve achieved a solution to a growing problem which everyone is delighted with.