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.
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.