Caledonian Cruise


 The canal system is about 60 miles in length and it takes around 3 days to cruise form one end to the other, it is therefore the ideal place to spend a week cruising. 22 miles of the waterway are man-made and the remaining 38 miles are made up of Loch Ness, Loch Oich and Loch Lochy . There are 12 locks and 6 bridges along the cruising route, all of which are manned by bridge and lock keepers.  

Day 1

Try and aim to be at the boatyard between 12:00 & 14:00 on the day you start your hire.

The Safety Videos commence at 12:00, they run at regular intervals and the last one will start at 14:00 so it is important you arrive before this. We do like all members of your crew to view the safety information in the film. If you are unavoidably delayed please contact the boatyard so we know when to expect you. The office is manned until 17:00 therefore it is important you contact us before then.

Your vessel will be ready to board between 12:00 & 14:00. When you are onboard we will demonstrate how the interior works eg. daily engine checks, use of cooker, etc and do a boat handling demonstration. There is quite a lot to take in on your first day and everything that we explain on the demonstration is also detailed in a handbook that we will give you when you check in at the reception. If you are already experienced then you will simply need to demonstrate your competence to us.

Once all the demonstrations and paperwork have been completed, you will depart, usually between 14:00 & 15:00 hrs, travelling through the first swing bridge at Tomnahurich and on towards Dochgarroch Lock. This canal section takes about 1 hour to cruise so you will usually arrive between 15:00 & 16:00 hrs. It’s here that we will leave you, therefore if you have any queires or are unsure about anything, please ask. When you’re out on your holiday, you do have access to a 24 hour service number which is always manned by a member of our team, so if you have any queries regarding the weather, cruising area or any problems with the boat, you will always manage to contact us.

Occasional rough weather means that you may have to spend the first evening at Dochgarroch so always make sure you have some supplies onboard for your first evening just in case it’s not possible to travel further. Donald-John is the usual Lock Keeper and he’ll make sure you have everything you need. There are Scottish Canals toilet and shower facilities located here, as well as shore power connections and water.

Most of the time however it is possible to make it onto Drumnadrochit for your first evening, this is about 1.5 hours cruise from Dochgarroch. During the lighter summer months, and subject to suitable weather conditions, it is possible to get to Fort Augustus on the first evening. However this can be quite a lot of cruising to do on your first day so we recommend Drumnadrochit as your first overnight stop.

Foyers is very exposed to North Easterly winds therefore it’s not possible to berth here overnight, however it is a lovely day time stop to visit the Falls of Foyers.

Day 2

It takes about 2 hours to cruise from Drumnadrochit to Fort Augustus. This lovely village is a great stop along the way with things to see, shops and eating establishments to visit. Most 3-night short break cruises tend to go as far as Fort Augustus and start from here the return trip back to Inverness. Those proceeding further will have to negotiate the flight of 5 locks, this usually takes about 1 hour. The Lock Keepers at Fort Augustus are very friendly, helpful and will always be happy to assist if you have any queries. You have Scottish Canals Waterways toilets and showers at both the bottom and top of the lock flight, the lower one also has a laundry facility.

Departing Fort Augustus travelling south west, you first reach Kytra Lock. This is a lovely, quiet spot for a barbeque. There is beautiful wildlife in this very remote spot, so you may catch a glimpse of a pine marten or red squirrel here.

Travelling on you’ll reach Cullochy Lock, this beautifully kept lock is looked after by Derek. Many of our regular customers are great friends with the Lock Keepers as most of them have manned their locks for many years.

Passing through Aberchalder Bridge will take you onto Loch Oich, there is plenty to do here. If you’re just out for a 4-night short-break cruise this is normally as far as you would travel before making the return trip back towards Inverness.

Day 3

After passing through Laggan Bridge, you’ll pass through the beautiful tree lined Laggan Avenue. Travel on towards Laggan Locks and Angus the keeper will take care of you. There are toilet and shower faclities here. After passing through the lock you’ll reach Loch Lochy, this beautiful part of the canal system is dominated by Ben Tee. Loch Lochy takes about 2 hours to cruise and takes you to Gairlochy Lock.

The final canal section takes an hour to cruise and you’ll pass through the very quaint Moy Bridge, here the local farmer and his flock of sheep are the only patrons. Arrival at Banavie brings you to the end of the cruising area, here you can watch the sea going boats transit through the flight of 8 locks at Neptunes Staircase. You’ll find toilet and shower facilities and water and shore power here. Banavie is just a couple of miles from the town of Fort William.

Days 4 – 6

If you’re out for a week you can make a leisurely trip back towards Inverness, doing as much or as little as you like in this truly fabulous location.

Day 7 – Final Day

Most people tend to spend their final night back at the boatyard. As we do aim to allow boarding of vessels for between 12:00 & 13:00 on the day you collect your boat, the only way we can manage this is by having a return time of 08:30 on your final day. If you return to the boatyard on the evening prior to your hand-over the vessels are usually refuelled and fuel accounts finalised. There are some lovely places to eat out in Inverness and we also have toilets, showers and shore power facilities back at the boatyard. If however you prefer not to return on your final night then you can stay on the east side of Dochgarroch Lock and come through Tomnahurich Bridge as soon as it opens in the morning (approx 08:00 hrs).

This cruise is available on the following boats.

Taransay Class (Sleeps up to 8 people)

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Highland Commander Class (Sleeps up to 8 people)

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Highland Monarch Class  (Sleeps up to 8 people)

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Torridon Class (Sleeps up to 8 people)

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Mull of Kintyre Class (Sleeps up to 3 people)

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Highland Glen Class (Sleeps up to 4 people)

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Eriskay Class (Sleeps up to 4 people)

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Isle of Skye Class (Sleeps up to 4 people)

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Balmoral Class (Sleeps up to 6 people)

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Strathspey Class (Sleeps up to 6 people)

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Caledonian Cruise

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