About Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal

Hear the call of Scottish lairds on the majestic Caledonian Canal

The Scottish Highlands create a backdrop of incredible beauty on Caledonian canal cruises! Much of your time will be spent on lakes (lochs) embraced in the rugged valleys along the Great Glen, a geologic fault line that shaped the landscape of the region. The Highlands are a unique place in the world, replete with hilltop castles, quiet waterside towns, lake resorts, friendly pubs and mournful bagpipes!

 

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Map showing where the Caledonian Canal boating region is in Scotland

The perfect boating region for...

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 inspire you to go trekking amidst the pines. You might observe crossbill, redstart, tree pipit, golden eagles, peregrines and songbirds. Red deer and fox also live along the Caledonian Canal. To get off your sore feet, go horseback riding at Drumnadrochit!

Fishing

Father and son fishing

Picture yourself amidst Loch Ness surrounded with majestic mountains as you fish for the elusive salmon, or perhaps for the fighting Ferrox trout! Pike, charr and other fish lurk beneath the waters of the Caledonian Canal. Break out the rod on angling vacations 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 time in the Caledonian Canal Visitor Centre museum learning about the history and heritage of the canal, and then pop over to the Clansman Centre for Scottish lore!

Golf

Golfer taking a swing

Golf originated in Scotland during the Middle Ages, and it's not surprising that Caledonian Canal golf breaks are 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.

2022 season for this region
Starts on April 1 and ends on October 31, 2022.

2023 season for this region
Starts on April 1 and ends on October 31, 2023.

  

Useful information

Safe Travels

We’ve been awarded the World Travel & Tourism Council's Safe Travel Stamp. The WTTC stamp enables international travellers to recognise destinations around the world which have adopted global standardised protocals - so they can experience "Safe Travels". We look forward to seeing you.

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, and only about 37 kilometres (23 miles) of it is manmade canals with locks to raise and lower boats. The rest follows the main lochs of Lochy, Oich and Ness. The lochs are spectacularly beautiful with crystal-clear water that runs deep. 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 vacation plans.

Lock keepers operate the 29 locks on the short canal sections. There are only about 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. Locks are closed for one hour for lunch between the hours of 12:00 and 14:00.

Public holidays: Locks are always open.

Sheltered moorings are always nearby on the large stretches of open water of Loch Ness, Loch Oich and Loch Lochy. Moorings are plentiful on the canal. There is a charge of $13 per day 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.

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

  • Rental of the boat and its onboard equipment
  • A fully equipped kitchen
  • Towels and linen for all passengers
  • A boat handling demontration 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 vacation extras
  • Boat damage waiver
  • Running costs (diesel, gas, engine wear and tear) - charged by the engine hour (by the litre in Scotland).
  • 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 Caledonian Canal

Le Boat base  = Le Boat base  Point of interest = 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 Nessi, who is 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 magnificient 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.
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 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. 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.

Itinerary 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 dont 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.

 = Click the arrow icon on each route suggestion, to flip the 'card' and reveal more details.

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

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.
  • Benavie: 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.
  • 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
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 bor 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 Castles 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

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 25 October 2021

Ian Bramford said

Fantastic boat great staff only issue we had was with condensation but that may have been due to the time of year we took the boat out (late October) but it would have been nice to have been warned about it with some suggestions on how to handle it. Front cabin bedding and mattresses got wet most nights. We are already planning our next le boat holiday so would recommend the experience to anyone We were late arrivals, 9pm, yet we were met and shown to our boat. The boat had been kept warm so our first night in board was very comfortable. Next morning we’re taken through how to handle the vessel.
READ MORE
Hi Ian, Thank you for taking the time to provide a review of your boating holiday on the Caledonian Canal. Thank you for your feedback about the condensation on the boat. I understand that would be uncomfortable. We we will make sure this gets to the right teams and suggest they provide ways for guests to handle this situation. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Elegance
Added on 11 October 2021

Graeme Mcdougall said

Can't really find fault with service provided...processed quickly upon arrival and again once holiday was over - all friendly and personable. Perfect 5 days cruising on the canal....all lock keepers professional and willing to help out where required (the chap at fort augustus was good fun and encouraging to all + knew his scots rugby players from 80's - 90's) + friendly, stunning scenery as you would expect - only negative was person or worker that frequented the great Glen water park who chased us from mooring at the pontoon saying it wasn't safe (a simple sign would have been suffice) + would comment in general more shore power points along the canal would b welcome however didn't affect the holiday in any way.
READ MORE
Hi Graeme. Thank you for taking the time to provide a five-star review of your boating holiday on the Caledonian Canal. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and we are delighted to hear that you received just that from the team in Laggan. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Caprice
Added on 5 October 2021

A trusted customer said

A Very Easy Check In, even with Covid and excellent tuition by the staff on boat handling The Boating experience was every bit as expected. While the weather was not particularly king , boating on the Caledonian Canal proved to be wonderful with specular scenery all around. The lock keepers were superb always on hand to help novices.
READ MORE
Good afternoon. Thank you for taking the time to provide a five-star review of your boating holiday on the Caledonian Canal. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and we are delighted to hear that you received just that from the team in Laggan. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Caprice
Added on 11 September 2021

Neil Hancox said

Helpful staff gave plenty of useful advice. nice boat and the experience of cruising on Scottish Lochs was exceptional. Would recommend. The scenery was stunning. Cruising on Scottish Lochs feels really adventurous even though it’s very safe. The boat was comfortable with all the facilities we needed. Yes there were more luxurious boats but we didn’t want a floating gin palace. Ok side thrusters (like you get on ‘fancier’ boats) would have made mooring easier as manoeuvring took a bit of getting used to given we were experienced using a narrow boat.
READ MORE
Good morning Neil. Thank you for taking the time to provide a 5-star review of your boating holiday in the Scottish Lochs. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and we are delighted to hear that you received just that from the team in Laggan. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Mountain Star
Added on 7 September 2021

Stewart Russell said

From start to finish the holiday was excellent. The booking process by phone was simple and all my questions answered easily. (I could have booked on the website, but I prefer the personal touch, as it's easier to clear up any uncertainties).The information on the Leboat website was extensive and very helpful. (Do watch the videos on handling a boat if it's your first time). The start of the holiday was so well handled by the reception staff, and the briefing and tuition by Jon the technician was all we needed to be confident in handling the boat. As for the boat itself, we had the Horizon, which was ideal for 2 of us and our dog. It was well equipped and clean, easy to navigate and simple to get off and on, with no climbing. Even the weather was kind, with only one rather wet day in the week. I cannot recommended Leboat, and especially their team at Laggan,highly enough. Within a week we had paid our deposit for next year. The Horizon 1 is a comfortable and easily maneuvered boat. The double berth at the bow was as comfortable as many hotel beds. The galley was well equipped and had a normal sized under the counter fridge. Handling the boat was a joy thanks to bow and stern thrusters, meaning the boat could be moved sideways, or turned in little over its own length. The low stern deck made stepping off and on the pontoon simple.
READ MORE
Good morning Stewart. Thank you for taking the time to provide a five-star review of your boating holiday on the Caledonian Canal. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and we are delighted to hear that you received just that from the team in Laggan. We're pleased to hear you had such a lovely trip, and we look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Horizon 1
Added on 7 September 2021

Anthony said

Excellent service and well organised. Clear and helpful advice
READ MORE
Good morning Anthony. Thank you for taking the time to provide a five-star review of your boating holiday on the Caledonian Canal. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and we are delighted to hear that you received just that from the team in Laggan. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Countess
Added on 6 September 2021

Allan Stonehouse said

The staff were very friendly and helpful. Specially Brian who alway had a smile. We had a wonderful time for our first experience with LeBoat but will not be the last. The boat was a bit tired but was adequate
READ MORE
Good morning Allan. Thank you for taking the time to provide a five-star review of your boating holiday on the Caledonian Canal. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and we are delighted to hear that you received just that from the team in Laggan. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Caprice
Added on 4 September 2021

Chloe Braithwaite said

I booked a boat through an agent so not given most information. I have two small children and when we arrived the boat was not suitable. The le boat staff were fantastic! I was shown around different boats and they gave recommendations. We upgraded the boat and holiday was saved. The staff went out of their way to help. So friendly and accommodating Fantastic family holiday beautiful views
READ MORE
Good morning Chloe. Thank you for taking the time to provide a five-star review of your boating holiday on the Caledonian Canal. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and we are delighted to hear that you received just that from the team in Laggan. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Elegance
Added on 28 August 2021

A trusted customer said

Our boat was great, everything explained well, we had one issue with not having a pump for our bikes but was sorted very quickly, really friendly staff! Thank you for a great holiday! Scottish Lochs were amazing!
READ MORE
Good morning. Thank you for taking the time to provide a five star review of your boating holiday on the Caledonian. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and we are delighted to hear that you received just that from the team in Laggan. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Classique
Added on 23 August 2021

Richard Beadles said

Excellent experience, would highly recommend booking this holiday Really good boat and great fun
READ MORE
Good morning, Richard. Thank you for taking the time to provide a five star review of your boating holiday on the Caledonian. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and we are delighted to hear that you received just that from the team in Laggan. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Magnifique