Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal Cruise

Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal Cruise

One of the best ways to have a true Scottish Experience is to cruise Scotland’s Great Glen in a wee ship, sailing through Loch Ness and along the incredible Caledonian Canal. The Great Glen cuts the Scottish Highlands in half and the Caledonian Canal is an extraordinary feast of Victorian engineering that was devised by Thomas Telford to connect the east and west Scottish coasts and to allow ships to avoid the northern stormy water of the Pentland Firth and Cape Wrath.

Our six night Scottish cruises travel both ways through the Canal which connects Fort William on the west coast of Scotland, situated at the top of Loch Linnhe, to Inverness, on the east coast and the capital of the Highlands, situated on the Moray Firth. Guests can decide in which direction they wish to travel – either eastwards from Fort William or westwards from Inverness. Depending of your choice of travel through the canal we start the cruise in either Dunstaffnage Marina, near Oban (eastwards) or Seaport Marina, near Inverness (westwards). 

The Caledonian canal is some 60 miles long  and its 29 locks, 10 bridges and 4 aqueducts link the lochs of Dochfour, Ness, Oich, and  Lochy. These spectacular sea and fresh water lochs are all located in the Great Glen. Throughout the cruises there are great walks, stunning wildlife, amazing sea and fresh water lochs and picturesque Highland villages and towns and, perhaps, even a chance of seeing the elusive Loch Ness monster!

Included in the price is the Caledonian Canal’s transit fee and the transport between Dunstaffnage Marina and Inverness.

Please note that your voyage is weather dependent. Weather doesn't just mean good or bad weather. There are many considerations such as tidal gates, wind direction and strength, the strength and direction of currents, overfalls, and fetch. Depending upon the weather and nature’s conditions, wildlife viewing varies.  

If you wish to visit a specific place or have a specific experience, such as whisky tasting, then please do let your skipper know and he will endeavour to meet your request. Excursions and visits ashore are at your own cost.

Some of the places we may visit are:

Oban: If you are travelling east (the west cruise is, of course, this itinerary in reverse) we embark our vessels at 1330 at Dunstaffnage Marina, near Oban, the gateway to the Hebridean isles.

Castle Stalker:  We head out into beautiful Loch Linnhe and cruise along the east side of the picturesque Isle of Lismore to an anchorage off lovely Shuna Island. We will see the famous Castle Stalker located on a small tidal loch and our spectacular backdrop up ahead is the Ben Nevis mountain range. We can go ashore and visit the local nature reserve on the mainland and admire the famous Castle Stalker. There are lovely walks across the causeway bridge to Port Appin.

Loch Linnhe: To arrive at the Caledonian Canal entrance we cruise up Loch Linnhe. In this stunning sea loch you will have the opportunity to see many types of sea birds, including sea eagles, as well as dolphins and seals. We are surrounded with fantastic scenery with the impressive Ben Nevis mountain becoming closer as we travel up the loch. After carefully navigating the Corran Narrows we anchor off the Canal entrance at Corpach.

Caledonian Canal: We enter the canal and climb up through the eight locks of “Neptune’s Staircase” to rise nearly  70 feet above the sea.  You can walk along the towpath or stay on board as we climb. Then we cruise to Gairlochy and our first inland, freshwater loch which is the long and narrow Loch Lochy. In the autumn, the surrounding hills are alive to the bellows of the rutting stags and the tree-lined parts of the canal are truly magnificent in their autumn colours. We cruise on through beautiful Loch Oich to reach the town of Fort Augustus.

Fort Augustus: We can visit the bustling town of Fort Augustus with its canal side pubs, Clansman Centre and Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre. When we leave the town we begin our descent through the locks to Loch Ness.

Loch Ness, Drumnadrochit and Urquhart Castle: Lochness is a large, long (23 miles) very deep loch and is famous for golden eagles, ospreys and of course “Nessie”! We can visit the pretty village of Drumnadrochit, home to the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, and surrounded by Glen Moriston and Glen Urquhart. We can anchor off the fabulous, historical Urquhart Castle for an incredibly scenic night. 

Inverness: We finally cruise to the end of Loch Ness and arrive at Seaport Marina, near Inverness. Inverness is a beautiful historic city, capital of the Highlands, and not far from the site of the famous Battle of Culloden. For the active there is the Ness Island Trail, which follows the River Ness, and you can even walk the towpath to the Canal’s end at Clachnaharry, where it enters the sea.

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Dates don't suit?

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Reasons to book

  • Extraordinary wildlife cruises
  • Skipper & chef included
  • Hoist the sails
  • Great value for money
  • Cruises through Scottish Canals
  • Maximum of 11 guests per cruise
  • Breakfast, snacks, lunch & dinner
  • Organised whisky tours for free
  • A perfect adventure for all ages
  • Art & photography cruises with free specialist tutors
  • Cruises with wildlife guide for free
Holiday Tips

Beautiful journey. Great food. Splendid weather.

Thomas, May 2023