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!

 

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

 

Die Karte zeigt, wo der Caledonian Canal sich in Schottland befindet.

If you are unable to find your perfect vacation 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 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.

  

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, 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.

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 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 Nessie, 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
Canale di Caledonia a 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.
Laggan

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

Must see
Commando Memorial

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
Viaduc de la voie ferrée de Glenfinnan avec le train à vapeur Jacobite
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 et 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 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.

Please note: Any route suggestions and itineraries on the Le Boat website are examples only and any of the suggested potential routes, attractions, restaurants, towns, villages or sections of the waterway included in them may not always be open or accessible at time of cruising.

 = 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 17 October 2022

Pia Philbey said

Good service, communications prior to arriving were clear and well organised. Upon arrival everyone was friendly and welcoming. Boat was clean and in good condition. John gave a good safety brief of the boat and showed us where everything was prior to setting off! Boat was clean and in a good condition with everything we needed for the week.
READ MORE
Hi Pia, Thank you for taking the time to write a 5-star review of your Le Boat experience. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and we are delighted to hear that you received that throughout your experience with us. The team in Scotland are fantastic and we will make sure your comments are shared with them. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Caprice
Added on 7 October 2022

Christopher Childs said

The whole experience beginning to end was faultless Really easy to navigate the holiday from booking to having Great customer service
READ MORE
Laggan - Laggan
Curlew WHS
Added on 4 October 2022

Rachel Smith said

Absolutely amazing !!!! The best week away that anybody could ask for All the staff super friendly an helpful The sights to see on the canal are something out of this world All the lock keepers were extremely informative an more than happy to help with any questions new or old boaters alike !!! Nothing was to much The boats are all fantastic an all extremely well presented when you arrive Nothing more could be asked for from the amazing team at le boat Would and will recommend to absolutely anyone Thank you for a amazing holiday Everything was ready as we were told no waiting around for anything the staff at le boat were absolutely more than happy to answer an question at an time even repeated questions that annoy some people but they were more than happy Couldn't have asked for a better place to start a absolutely fantastic journey and a week sailing the most fantastic Caledonian canal Thank you le boat
READ MORE
Laggan - Laggan
Kingfisher WHS
Added on 29 September 2022

Christian Felkel said

The service of Sheila and her team was outstanding.
READ MORE
Dear Christian, Thank you for taking the time to write a 5-star review of your recent boating holiday in Scotland. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and we are therefore pleased to hear you received just that. We will be sure to pass your comments on to Sheila and the team in Laggan. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Clipper
Added on 26 September 2022

A customer said

Very smooth handover, preparation and instruction. Excellent trip. Good handover and preparation. Thorough instruction and approachable helpful staff.
READ MORE
Good Afternoon, Thank you for taking the time to write a 5-star review of your experience. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service therefore we are delighted to hear that the handover and demonstration went smoothly. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Elegance
Added on 12 September 2022

Margaret Glasgow said

Definitely. The boat design was perfect and three toilets and showers a luxury. We cooked every evening and found all we needed. The boat was perfect. The scenery fantastic. The weather amazing, we steered on top the whole cruise and didn't get wet!!!!
READ MORE
Dear Margaret, Thank you for taking the time to provide a 5-star review of your boating experience. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and we are pleased that you received just that. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Crusader
Added on 3 September 2022

Lynne Skinner said

Service was first class a warm welcome on arrival. Nothing too much trouble. Must say the lock keepers were all so friendly and helpful too. An excellent adventure! A real adventure something different but very enjoyable. We were fortunate with the weather too so that was a bonus.
READ MORE
Dear Lynne, Thank you for taking the time to write a 5-star review of your recent boating holiday in Scotland. Your feedback is valuable to us, and we're delighted to hear that you were greeted with a warm welcome in Laggan. We look forward to welcoming you on board for another adventure again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Clipper
Added on 2 September 2022

Ian Kennedy said

Good team, really friendly and always happy to help. The boats were modern and well laid out and everything worked. That said the new hob based toaster wasn't great. Not hard to get to if you follow their instructions. The facility was good with ample supply of water, electricity and easy to load your luggage on.
READ MORE
Dear Ian, Thank you for taking the time to write a 5-star review of your recent boating holiday in Scotland. Your feedback is valuable to us and we will pass on your comments regarding the toaster. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and we are therefore delighted to hear you received a warm, friendly welcome. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Elegance
Added on 29 August 2022

Sarah Stow said

From start to finish, the holiday was first class. A call from the office prior to the holiday made sure that we had all things arranged and everything organised before we embarked on our first Le Boat voyage! Comprehensive information from emails and on bird as to locks and moorings etc. Simply a perfect break. Absolutely stunning boat very spacious for our needs and stunning upper deck. The Caledonian canal cruise is one of the most wonderful ways to explore the breathtaking views of the highlands.
READ MORE
Laggan - Laggan
Magnifique
Added on 27 August 2022

Roy Lamb said

lovely holiday ,nice staff ,comfortable boat
READ MORE
Dear Roy, Thank you for taking the time to write a 5-star review of your recent boating holiday in Scotland. Your feedback is valuable to us, and we're so pleased that you enjoyed your holiday. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Caprice