About Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal

Boating on the Caledonian Canal is a unique way to see Scotland's wilderness

The Highlands provide a backdrop of incredible beauty for your boating holidays in Scotland. During your Caledonian canal cruise, much of your time will be spent on lakes (lochs) nestled in the rugged valleys along the Great Glen, a geologic fault line that shaped the landscape of the region. Hilltop castles, quiet waterside towns, lake resorts, cosy pubs and rich, melodic bagpipes... The Highlands are an ideal destination to hire a boat in Scotland!

 

You'll also be able to cruise on the mythical waters of Loch Ness on a cruise of 4 nights or longer. 

 

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If you are unable to find your perfect holiday on our website please contact our Boating Experts who may be able to help create a bespoke offering for you.

Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal map

Map of Caledonian Canal

 = Le Boat Base           = Canal           = Navigable river           = No navigation beyond this point

The perfect boating region for...

Nature Lovers

Highland cow

Nature trails around the lochs reveal an abundance of wildlife. Amidst the pines you might observe crossbill, redstart, tree pipit, golden eagles, peregrines and songbirds. Keep an eye out for red deer and fox which also live along the Caledonian Canal. Saddle up for some horseback riding at Drumnadrochit.

Fishing

Father and son fishing

Picture yourself gliding along Loch Ness surrounded by majestic mountains as you fish for the elusive salmon, or perhaps the fighting Ferrox trout. Pike, charr and other fish lurk beneath the waters of the Caledonian Canal. Break out the rod on angling holidays in Scotland.

History & Heritage

Bagpipe player in a kilt

Perched atop craggy cliffs, Urquhart Castle in Drumnadrochit is a must-see! In Fort Augustus, spend some time in the Caledonian Canal Visitor Centre museum learning about the history and heritage of the canal, then why not pop over to the Clansman Centre for Scottish lore!

Golf

Golfer taking a swing

Golf lovers will be interested to know that the sport originated in Scotland during the Middle Ages, so it’s not surprising that Caledonian Canal golf breaks are extremely popular! The Castle Stuart Golf Links, Loch Ness Golf Course and the Inverness Golf Club are in Inverness, and the Fort Augustus Golf Club is on the canal.

Useful information

Download our Region Guide

Check out our region guideWe've produced a handy PDF guide for this region to give you an overview of all the stops and things to do along the waterway.

Download our region guide

A quick look at a Caledonian Canal map shows that the waterway connects the North Atlantic with the North Sea. The 100-kilometre (62-mile) passage runs from Loch Linnhe to Moray Firth, only about 37 kilometres (23 miles) of it is manmade and these canals have locks to raise and lower boats. The rest follows the main lochs of Lochy, Oich and Ness. The lochs are spectacularly beautiful with deep, crystal-clear water. Loch Ness, home to Nessie the monster, has a depth of 230 metres (775 feet). The loch is 39 kilometres (24 miles) long.

Heading northeast from our base at Laggan on Caledonian canal cruises, you’ll soon reach Loch Oich, the highest point on the passage at 32 metres (106 feet) above sea level. That’s not very high, and yet Mount Ben Nevis at Fort William rises 1,344 metres (4,409 feet), indicating the heights that surround you. At Oich, the waters flow to the sea from both directions.

The waters of Pentland Firth, a channel between Scotland and the Orkney Islands, are very rough, requiring perilous voyages to get from the North Sea to the Atlantic. In 1803, work began on the Caledonian Canal to create a shortcut, and it continued for 19 years! The waterway opened in 1822, but it wasn’t a commercial success. A visit from Queen Victoria in 1873 kicked off the interest amongst tourists. Today, more than 500,000 people visit the canal every year.

The Caledonian Canal offers you variety and ease of navigation. Exercise caution on lochs if the wind kicks up.

Take a look at our waterway and lock closures page to find out if there are any scheduled cruising restrictions that will affect your holiday plans.

There are around 10 locks on most cruising itineraries. Lifejackets must be worn in the locks.

 

Opening hours: During the busy summer season locks are open 08:00 - 18:00, outside of this thay are open 08:30 - 17:30 however we would advise to arrive to the locks one hour earlier at the end of the day to ensure you pass through before closure. Locks are closed for one hour for lunch between the hours of 12:00 - 14:00 and break between 16:00 - 16:30.

 

Public holidays: Locks are always open.

Moorings available between Laggan and Inverness

  • Laggan Base Pontoon, top of Laggan Locks, Laggan side of Laggan Swing Bridge at the end of the first Canal section which is called Laggan Avenue.
  • Loch Oich on the side of the Laggan Swing Bridge, Great Glen Water Park, Seven Heads Pontoon, Moorings at Invergarry Castle Ruins, Aberchalder Bridge Loch Oich Side.
  • Canal section to Fort Augustus - the first moorings are either side of Cullochy Locks
  • Kytra Locks, then it is the top of Fort Augustus Flight of 5 locks where there are full facilities.
  • Loch Ness there are moorings at the bottom of the Fort Augustus Flight.
  • Urquhart Bay Harbour.
  • Dochgarroch Locks.
  • Tomnachurich Bridge, with mooring space available either side of the bridge.
  • Caley Cruisers/Marina.
  • There is a daily charge for the use of all waterside facilities and moorings along the Caledonian Canal, which we are required to collect in advance of your cruise. This will be added as a cost onto your booking. For more details, see our compulsory costs page.

To find out how to get to our base in this boating region, as well as what facilities and amenities are available at each base or nearby, click on the base below:

  • Hire of the boat and its onboard equipment
  • A fully equipped kitchen
  • Towels and linen for all passengers
  • A boat handling demonstration prior to departure
  • Technical support
  • On-board maps and visitor information
  • Passage through locks
  • A compulsory moorings fee has been included in the price quoted. See compulsory costs for more details
  • Optional holiday extras
  • Boat damage waiver
  • Running costs (diesel, gas, engine wear and tear) - charged by the engine hour.
  • Travel to and from the base(s)
  • Waterside services if you use them (i.e. moorings where a charge is applicable, pump-out if needed, water, etc)
  • Cancellation plan & any travel/personal insurance
  • Food and drink

Interactive map of the Caledonian Canal

Bases  = Le Boat base  Chateau = Point of interest

Great to see…

Must see
Inverness Castle in Inverness

Inverness is a compact and historic city, which is easy to explore. Enjoy beautiful views from the castle and riverbank and indulge in a spot of retail therapy in the old town or at the new Eastgate complex.

Must see
UrquhartCastle in Drumnadrochit

Drumnadrochit is known for its world famous monster Nessie, who is fabled to reside in Loch Ness. Stroll around this quiet village to see the old Castles ruins along the banks and be sure to keep an eye on the water - maybe you will be the next to see him…

Deep in the magnificent and misty atmosphere of the Loch Ness, breathe in the clean air and have a walk along the beautiful walking paths along the canal banks.

Must see
Caledonian Canal in Fort Augustus

Situated on the shores of the world famous Loch Ness, Fort Augustus is nestled right in the centre of the stunning scenery of the Great Glen, which stretches from the east to the west coast of Scotland. The fort, and and the village, were named after King George II’s younger son, Prince William Augustus.

Invermoriston is a sweet place. Here, you'll appreciate having an amble along the countryside walking paths aside the hamlet.

Invergarry is a small village where you can discover the remains of the old Castle of Invergarry. A beautiful place to have a walk.

Have a stop in quiet Laggan, a small and peaceful village, and relax in the local pub and restaurant.

Moor in this lovely place to discover beautiful views of Ben Nevis and the Grey Collies mountains. 2 miles from Gairlochy you will find the Commando Memorial. A good place to have a walk.

Must see
Glenfinnan Railway Viaduct with Jacobite Steam Train

Banavie is home to the longest staircase lock in the UK, Neptune's Staircase, with it's set of eight locks and lift of sixty-four feet! Meanwhile, Harry Potter fans will love the Jacobite Steam train, the train used as the Hogwarts express in the film series. It runs along the West Highlands Railway, taking in breathtaking scenery on a 135km round trip.

Must see
Fort William and Ben Nevis

The outdoor capital of the UK, Fort William is a mecca for adventure activities. Hike, bike and high-wire your way through spectacular scenery, including the tallest mountain in the UK - Ben Nevis! If the thought of walking to the top is too daunting (recommended for experienced walkers only) there is a gondola to the summit as well.

Route suggestions

To help you get an idea of how far you can travel in the time you have, here's a selection of routes to and from our bases in this region. You don't have to stop at all the places listed or follow the route exactly. So long as you return your boat to your end base by the date you've booked - you're free to enjoy your cruise however you like. For a comfortable pace, allowing you time to regularly stop and explore, we'd recommend an average of 2 - 4 hours cruising each day.  Ireland and Scotland tours can also be an option if you feel more adventurous and have time to travel during your holidays. 

Cruising on the Caledonian canal

The Grand Highland Fling Cruise

Laggan
Gairlochy
Banavie
Fort William
Invergarry
Fort-Augustus
Invermoriston
Foyers
Drumnadrochit
Inverness
Laggan

25 hr(s) of cruising

193km 24 locks 7 nights

The Grand Highland Fling Cruise

Laggan RETURN via Inverness & Banavie

Laggan RETURN via Inverness & Banavie

Scroll down using the grey bar to the right

Overview

You scout magnificent Loch Ness for Nessie, taking in the mountains and blue waters from your sundeck and feeling a world away on your Caledonian Canal boating vacation. Soon you pull into a laid-back resort to relax with watersports, and later you head north to Inverness to sightsee. You can almost hear distant bagpipes whispering in the cool crisp air!

Top highlights:

  • Views of Ben Nevis and the Grey Collies mountains from Gairlochy
  • Sight of the Jacobite Steam train (Hogwarts Express) in Banavie
  • The sight of Fort Augustus from the shores of Loch Ness
  • Inverness Castle

Example itinerary:

The following is only an example, you can explore this area in whichever order you want, so long as your boat is back at the end base at the end of your vacation:

  • Laggan: Have a stop in quiet Laggan, a small and peaceful village, and relax in the local pub and restaurant.
  • Gairlochy: Moor in this lovely place to discover beautiful views of Ben Nevis and the Grey Collie mountains. A good place to have a walk.
  • Banavie: Banavie is home to the longest staircase lock in the UK, Neptune's Staircase, with its set of eight locks and lift of sixty-four feet! Meanwhile, Harry Potter fans will love the Jacobite Steam train, the train used as the Hogwarts Express in the film series. It runs along the West Highlands Railway, taking in breathtaking scenery on a 135 km round trip.
  • Fort William: The outdoor capital of the UK, Fort William is a mecca for adventure activities. Hike, bike and high-wire your way through spectacular scenery, including the tallest mountain in the UK - Ben Nevis! If the thought of walking to the top is too daunting (recommended for experienced walkers only) there is a gondola to the summit as well.
  • Invergarry: Invergarry is a small village where you can discover the remains of the old Castle of Invergarry. A beautiful place to have a walk.
  • Fort Augustus: Situated on the shores of the world famous Loch Ness, Fort Augustus is nestled right in the centre of the stunning scenery of the Great Glen, which stretches from the east to the west coast of Scotland. The fort, and the village, were named after King George II's younger son, Prince William Augustus.
  • Invermoriston: Invermoriston is a sweet place. Here, you'll appreciate having an amble along the countryside walking paths aside the hamlet.
  • Foyers: Deep in the magnificent and misty athmosphere of the Loch Ness, breathe in the clean air and have a walk along the beautiful walking paths along the canal banks.
  • Drumnadrochit: Drumnadrochit is known for its world famous monster Nessie, who is fabled to reside in Loch Ness. Stroll around this quiet village to see the old Castle ruins along the banks and be sure to keep an eye on the water - maybe you will be the next to see it...
  • Inverness: Inverness is a compact and historic city, which is easy to explore. Enjoy beautiful views from the castle and riverbank and indulge in a spot of retail therapy in the old town or at the new Eastgate complex.

25 hr(s) of cruising

193km 24 locks 7 nights
Urquhart Castle on the shore of Loch Ness

The Highland Fling Short Break

Laggan
Gairlochy
Banavie
Invergarry
Fort-Augustus
Laggan

13 hr(s) of cruising

65km 12 locks 3 nights

The Highland Fling Short Break

Laggan RETURN via Banavie & Fort Augustus

Scroll down using the grey bar to the right

Overview

The views of Loch Lochy and Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain at over 4,000 feet, take your breath away on the gondola ride up Aonach Mor, marking a highlight of your Caledonian canal boating vacation! Then you head north up to Loch Oich to pretty Fort Augustus to dine on a platter of haggis, stopping to cycle and fish along the way.

Top highlights:

  • Views of Ben Nevis and the Grey Collies mountains from Gairlochy
  • Sight of the Jacobite Steam train (Hogwarts Express) in Banavie
  • The sight of Fort Augustus from the shores of Loch Ness

Example itinerary:

The following is only an example, you can explore this area in whichever order you want, so long as your boat is back at the end base at the end of your vacation:

  • Laggan: Have a stop in quiet Laggan, a small and peaceful village, and relax in the local pub and restaurant.
  • Gairlochy: Moor in this lovely place to discover beautiful views of Ben Nevis and the Grey Collie mountains. A good place to have a walk.
  • BenavieBanavie is home to the longest staircase lock in the UK, Neptune's Staircase, with it's set of eight locks and lift of sixty-four feet! Meanwhile, Harry Potter fans will love the Jacobite Steam train, the train used as the Hogwarts Express in the film series. It runs along the West Highlands Railway, taking in breathtaking scenery on a 135km round trip.
  • Invergarry: Invergarry is a small village where you can discover the remains of the old Castle of Invergarry. A beautiful place to have a walk.
  • Fort Augustus: Situated on the shores of the world famous Loch Ness, Fort Augustus is nestled right in the centre of the stunning scenery of the Great Glen, which stretches from the east to the west coast of Scotland. The fort, and the village, were named after King George II's younger son, Prince William Augustus.

 

13 hr(s) of cruising

65km 12 locks 3 nights

Our Feefo reviews

Feefo is an independent and impartial review service that requests reviews directly from those who have been on a Le Boat vacation. Below you can read what our past customers think about their Le Boat experience, and trust that what you read is unfiltered, unedited and uncensored.

Added on 24 May 2024

Joe Newsome-Yates said

Absolutely outstanding service. From check in, safety induction, during our holiday, and check out. Very friendly team Le Boat Laggan. Amazing holiday! Totally different experience and different way of living life. We don’t want it to end!
READ MORE
Laggan - Laggan
Clipper
Added on 8 April 2024

A customer said

A very warm welcome from the team. The boat and on-boarding were both excellent and we had no trouble navigating. The location is beautiful and we all had a lovely time. The boat was spacious and well equipped and the local area was beautiful
READ MORE
Laggan - Laggan
Elegance
Added on 23 October 2023

Trevor Rooney said

Everybody was very friendly and efficient. They all wanted to make sure our time on their boats and canals was going to be the best. We were very lucky with the weather as well. No rain at all and only general breezes. Boat was great and worked well.
READ MORE
Good day, Thank you for taking the time to write a five-star review of your boating holiday on the Thames. We are delighted to hear that you had a great time on your Le Boat experience with your friends and family. We look forward to welcoming you onboard again. Kind regards Refilwe from Le Boat
Laggan - Laggan
Mountain Star
Added on 16 October 2023

Geraldine Longstaff said

Great October holiday break on the Caledonian Canal with 4 teenagers! Everyone at Le Boat was great, the boat was brilliant fun, spacious with loads of storage and well enough kitted out for 3/4 days. Looking forward to next time.
READ MORE
Good day Geraldine, Thank you for taking the time to write a five star review of your boating holiday on the Caledonian Canal. We are delighted to hear that you had a great time on your Le Boat experience with your family. We look forward to welcoming you onboard again. Kind regards Refilwe from Le Boat
Laggan - Laggan
Elegance
Added on 9 October 2023

A customer said

Reception was exceptional and informative. Boat also excellent. Assistance given to crew member after we had been held up at a Loch due a tour boat breakdown to enable her to attend an appointment was well received by all crew. Will be using Le Boat again. Boat and Great Glen superb
READ MORE
Good day, Thank you for taking the time to write a five-star review of your boating holiday. We are delighted to hear that you had a great time on your Le Boat experience and that the staff gave exceptional service. We look forward to welcoming you onboard again. Kind regards Refilwe from Le Boat
Laggan - Laggan
Magnifique
Added on 16 September 2023

John Arnell said

Excellent friendly staff who explained everything in a cheerful and clear manner Excellent friendly staff. Very knowledgable
READ MORE
Good day, Thank you for taking the time to write a five-star review of your boating holiday. We are very delighted to hear that you had a wonderful time on your Le Boat experience and that the staff were able to be of assistance during your booking process. We look forward to welcoming you onboard again. Kind regards Refilwe from Le Boat
Laggan - Laggan
Magnifique
Added on 28 August 2023

George Evans said

The staff where really helpful throughout our time on holiday and made us more confident about the boat being as we are not sailors The instruction given is first class and we could have as much practice until we were feeling more confident to take off on our own
READ MORE
Good day Louise, Thank you for taking the time to write a five-star review of your boating holiday. We are delighted to hear that you had a great time on your Le Boat experience, and that our staff were able to assist during your booking process. We look forward to welcoming you onboard again. Kind regards Refilwe from Le Boat
Laggan - Laggan
Consul
Added on 3 August 2023

A customer said

Amazing team, really helpful. Very accommodating and friendly. Great fun, lots of resources to help you plan where you want to go and great support.
READ MORE
Good day, Thank you for taking the time to write a five-star review of your boating holiday. We are delighted to hear that you had a great time on your Le Boat experience, and that our staff were able to assist during your booking process. We look forward to welcoming you onboard. Kind regards Refilwe from Le Boat
Laggan - Laggan
Clipper
Added on 12 June 2023

A customer said

Booking and confirmation was easy. Communication prior to trip was very good. Prior departure training very informative. Our planned itinerary needed to be changed slightly due to maintenance at some of the locks during our trip but this did not impair our enjoyment
READ MORE
Laggan - Laggan
Elegance
Added on 30 May 2023

A customer said

They were brilliant, the staff are full of knowledge, very helpful and accommodating, nothing was too much trouble. Thanks le boat. Great service, friendly and welcoming.
READ MORE
Good morning, Thank you for taking the time to write a four-star review of your boating holiday. We are delighted to hear that you had a great time, and received some excellent service from our experienced staff. We look forward to welcoming you onboard again soon. Kind regards Refilwe from Le Boat
Laggan - Laggan
Elegance