Caledonian Canal

Destinations / Scotland / Caledonian Canal

You'd be hard pressed to find a more stunning Scottish cruise route than the Caledonian Can al. The canal, which connects the North Sea to the east of the island with the Atlantic Ocean to the west, runs for a total of 96 kilometres. The route runs from Inverness across the famous Loch Ness, continues across Loch Oich and passes through another loch , Loch Lochy. The estuary is located near the town of Fort William .

You can hire canoes, windsurfing equipment, sailing boats or even jet skis along the banks along the route - Scottish Highland has something for everyone. When you tire of water sports, go eagle-watching, hiking or pony trekking. Or put the pedals to the metal and hit the cycle paths along the canal.

Anglers should set aside at least one day in their itinerary for salmon fly-fishing on the River Oich and speckled dace fishing on Loch Ness. They can even hire a 'ghillie' or fishing guide to advise and help them with their fishing.

What awaits you

During your holiday, you'll sail across Loch Ness, home to the world's most famous freshwater monster. You'll also visit the islands of the shallower Loch Oich and sail through the wild Loch Lochy, along the foot of Britain's highest mountain , Ben Nevis. This is best enjoyed by taking the Banavie gondola to Anoch Mor. From here, you'll have spectacular views of the mountain.

On the way, enjoy water fun at the Great Glen Water Park. During your cruise, don't miss a stop at the Clansman Centre in Fort Augustus, one of the most picturesque villages along the route, where you'll get a taste of the local way of life. Drumnadrochit, a Loch Ness monster watching centre and base for pony trekking, is also worth a visit. Also see Urquhart Castle, which towers over the edge of Loch Ness.

Time set aside for Inverness should not be missing from your itinerary. From here, you can go on a dolphin spotting expedition in the Moray Firth and even have your own custom-made kilt made here. And that's an offer not to be refused.

Fort Augustus and Loch Ness lake in Scotland in a beautiful summer day, United Kingdom

Husbots on Loch Ness

Return via the Gairlochs and Neptune's Staircase cascade of locks in Banavie, overlooking the Atlantic and Fort William, where one of Europe's finest hiking trails, the West Highland Way, ends.

Cyclists in Scotland will also enjoy the Mountain Discovery Centre and the World Downhill Mountain bike track. Be warned - you ride downhill here at your own risk!

Harry Potter fans should set aside a day to ride the West Highland Railway. The very same railway that the Hogwarts Express used. Intersperse your trip with regular visits to restaurants for freshly caught salmon, venison and other local specialties. Of these, be sure to try the stuffed sheep's stomach 'haggis', which tastes best when accompanied by a glass of fine whisky.

Glenfinnan railway viaduct in Scotland

Glenfinnan Railway Viaduct

Useful information

  • There are a small number of automatic locks along the route.
  • The ideal time to cross the canal is a week or two.
  • There are 5 locks in the town of Fort Augustus for which you need to make an appointment in advance.

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Popular routes

Caledonian Canal navigation area map

Trip length: 4 days | 65 km
Type of cruise: there and back
Number of locks: 12

Laggan – Banavie – Fort Augustus – Laggan

Cruise the Caledonian Canal and experience the true beauty and flavour of the Scottish Highlands. Don't miss Loch Oich and the amazing water rides at Great Glen Water Park.

Caledonian Canal navigation area map

Trip length: 7 days | 193 km
Type of cruise: there and back
Number of locks: 24

Laggan – Inverness – Banavie – Laggan

A cruise on the Caledonian Canal will give you a taste of the true Highlands. See the sights at Loch Oich and visit the huge Great Glen Water Park, complete with watersports.