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Caledonian Canal
Caledonian Canal

Caledonian Canal

Inverness, Scotland

The Basics

Though the long-distance Great Glen Way, which follows the path of the canal, attracts hikers and cyclists to the water’s edge, most visitors to Scotland encounter the Caledonian Canal during sightseeing cruises. The most-visited part of the canal is the area around Loch Ness, a vast and scenic lake, and the supposed home of a mysterious aquatic monster. Organized tours departing from Edinburgh and Inverness often include a visit to the canal, as well as trips to other area Highland highlights, such as Urquhart Castle, the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, and Glencoe.

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Recent reviews from experiences in Inverness

star-5
Wonderful cruise
Lyn_S, May 2021
Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal Cruise from Dochgarroch
The beautiful scenery very good commentary throughout the cruise. Very good covid measures. Lovely staff.
star-5
Recommend.
Joseph_M, Sep 2021
Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal Cruise from Dochgarroch
What a fun two hour boat cruise! Great boat. Lovely staff. On board bar and snacks. Partner had the Highland Hot chocolate (dash of whiskey 🥃 in it lol) as I was driving. Smelt nice though. Didn’t see Nessie but an experience I totally recommend. Can sit inside (huge windows) if you’re too cold or cannot manage steps. Price was perfect at £26 each.
star-5
Commentary full of...
Frances_P, Sep 2021
Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal Cruise from Dochgarroch
Commentary full of history very intersting. Boat was spotless crew friendly.Stopped right by urghart castle for photos views were stunning and we could take our dogs as we were on holiday and didn't want to leave them in the accommodation or in the car which was the reason we booked it
star-4
Fantastic boat trip on Loch Ness
Margo_L, Aug 2021
Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal Cruise from Dochgarroch
Fantastic boat trip on Loch Ness. The commentator was very knowledgeable about the lock and history of things on the lock. Well worth the trip. Can be a bit cold outside travelling on the water so take a coat.
star-5
A brilliant day out!
KoriAimee_D, Aug 2021
Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal Cruise from Dochgarroch
Stunning views and friendly crew, it had everything for a brilliant trip! It was so much fun and definitely the highlight of our day! I most definitely recommend!
star-5
Great experience
Hairulnizam_B, Aug 2021
Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal Cruise from Dochgarroch
Excellent..really enjoy it…beautiful scenery and the service provided was superb…will come again later
star-5
Recommended to everyone
Dave, Aug 2021
Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal Cruise from Dochgarroch
Fantastic trip Staff were excellent and very polite We had a fantastic time and would recommend it to everyone
star-5
Happiness at LochNess
Kalyan, Aug 2021
Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal Cruise from Dochgarroch
It has been a beautiful cruise experience and amazing locations to watch. It's nice to walk around and take pictures.
star-5
Great tour
Gill, Aug 2021
Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal Cruise from Dochgarroch
Great experience Great to be reminded of things taught at school, staff lovely- hot chocolate was magic
star-5
Very good experience.
Prashanth, Jul 2021
Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal Cruise from Dochgarroch
Very good experience with the team on board. They were friendly, informative and helpful. The location and detailed explanation of each bit was well organised and delivered to all passengers on board.
star-4
Family trip on Lock Ness
Sean_O, Jul 2021
Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal Cruise from Dochgarroch
Lock Ness atmosphere very tranquil & relaxing. Good facilities. Good family trip, kids happy enjoyed the trip.
star-5
Nessie hunt
Max_M, Jul 2021
Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal Cruise from Dochgarroch
Very informative, beautiful scenery and most enjoyable trip. Kids and grandparents enjoyed it immensely! Thoroughly recommend.

Things to Know Before You Go

  • The Caledonian Canal is a must-see for scenery-seekers and active travelers.

  • Swimming is not allowed in the waterway.

  • Wi-Fi hotspots are available (for a fee) at various spots along the canal.

  • Some parts of the Great Glen Way are wheelchair-accessible.

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How to Get There

If you’re coming from Fort William, Neptune’s Staircase, 4 miles (6 kilometers) north of the city in the village of Banavie, are the nearest and most spectacular set of lochs on the canal. To get there, ride the Mallaig-bound train from Fort William to Banavie. If you’re based in Inverness, take a stroll along the Canal Road, which connects to the Great Glen Way.

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When to Get There

The best time to visit the canal is in summer. At this time, the weather is generally warmer, days are longer, and sightseers can take advantage of cruise vessels’ outdoor decks. The canal is perhaps at its most scenic during sunrise and sunset, when the golden glow reflects off the water’s surface.

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The History of the Caledonian Canal

Built in the late 18th and early 19th century, the Caledonian Canal was meant to serve as a safe route for commercial freight who wanted to avoid the hazardous west coast of Scotland. Unfortunately, by the time it actually opened in 1822, larger steam ships were becoming more commonplace, and were too large to use the canal. Nowadays, the canal is largely used for recreational purposes.

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