Boating Holidays Masthead
Boating Holidays Masthead

Scotland Boating Holidays on the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness

The Caledonian Canal is surrounded by the spectacular scenery and mountain ranges of the Scottish Highlands.

Boating holidays are possible between Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, and Fort William in the south.

Loch Ness Boat Hire

The route takes you through Loch Ness, the home of the legendary monster, and the Great Glen through Lochs and canals.

The canal is almost 200 years old, and joins the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It was built to let ships cut off the hazardous trip through the Pentland Firth around the north coast of Scotland.

Caledonian Canal Area Map

From our boat base at Laggan, close to Fort William, it is possible to cruise the whole 60 mile length of the canal and back in one week, with time to visit the many bankside villages and attractions.

From Laggan, cruise north to Loch Oich and on to Fort Augustus and legendary Loch Ness, overlooked by the ruins of Urquhart Castle. Further north is the lively city of Inverness, home to a spectacular 19th-century cathedral and several fascinating museums. Alternatively, head south from our boat base to scenic Fort William and mighty Ben Nevis.

The 23 mile long Loch Ness ends at the picturesque village of Fort Augustus with its set of staircase locks. Perhaps visit the Clansman Centre and its glimpse of highland life. From here the route winds through shallower Loch Oich – excellent watersports at Great Glen Water Park - to our base at Laggan Locks before crossing Loch Lochy at the foot of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain.

See Gairlochy next to Ben Nevis before reaching the end of the navigable waterway at Banavie, and its amazing Neptune’s Staircase of eight locks, close to Fort William at the southern end of the canal.

Perhaps take a trip on the West Highland railway line to Mallaig, a small fishing village on the wild and scenic west coast of Scotland. One of the world’s scenic rail journeys, Harry Potter fans may recognize it as a route used by the Hogwarts Express!

There are many piers and mooring places along Loch Ness and the Great Glen, mostly free of charge. The short canal stretches have only 10 locks, all operated by keepers.

The hotels and pubs offer Scottish Highlands hospitality to boaters – wild salmon, game and venison are local specialities – and of course haggis and highland whisky! For supplies there are village shops and more services in the larger towns.

Along the canal you can enjoy angling, walking, mountain biking, pony trekking, and perhaps spot an eagle or osprey – maybe the Loch Ness monster!

You may see fishing boats, yachts, maybe occasional small ships. Previous boating experience is not essential as boating is limited to non-tidal waters.

The Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness offer a boating holiday with spectacular views in amazing scenery.


Area Highlights

Highlights of the Caledonian Canal

  • Fishing, wildlife & bird-watching
  • Hiking & hill walking
  • Whisky distillery tours
  • Loch Ness Monster spotting
  • Spectacular mountain scenery
Gairlochy

Useful Information:

  • Navigation is easy and full of variety on the Caledonian Canal. On the stretches of open water you are never far from sheltered moorings
  • Lifejackets must be worn in locks and on open stretches of water

Please Note

Scottish canals have introduced a canal fee for 2018 - this is the cost per day to use the canal

  • £10
  • €11.50

Customer Reviews

We travelled from the boat yard up to Loch Ness and back. The experience was fantastic and all the staff from the boat yard to the lock keepers were really nice and a credit to the company. Particularly Jade from the reservations team who really helped sort out the last minute booking which meant everything ran smoothly. It was really great, the kids had fun and are already nagging to go back. Already recommended to at least five friends one of which has already enquired about booking next year. Would recommend to all from novice to experienced. NB - Laggan - Laggan
Absolutely fabulous, we all enjoyed it very much. The scenery on our journey was awesome, the weather held up very well for us, I mean October in the Highlands!! we expected the worst but were very pleasantly surprised. All in all a first rate holiday which we all enjoyed immensely. G – Inverness out and back on the Caledonian Canal, Scotland

View Routes from:

Show Full Map
Scotland Boating Map

Boat holidays from Laggan

Laggan is located in the Cairngorms National Park and surrounded by soaring mountains. The village, featured in the popular BBC drama series “Monarch of the Glen”, is a superb base for exploring the countryside and lochs. There are plenty of walks and the opportunity to fish in the River Spey.

Nearby are the ruins of the fort of Dun da Lamh and the Laggan Wolftrax, a mountain biking centre in the heart of the Strathmashie Forest. Laggan is the starting point for cruises along the Caledonian Canal, taking in famous Loch Ness, the ruins of Urquhart Castle and the Ben Nevis Distillery.


Out and Back Routes

Laggan - Inverness - Banavie or Inverness - Laggan - Banavie

Return Trip • 1 week • 193km • 10 Locks • 35hrs

Laggan - Banavie - Fort Augustus - Laggan

Return Trip • 1 week • 65km • 18 Locks • 14hrs

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