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!

 

Book before the 1st December and enjoy 20% off your 2022 cruise!
See offers for details. 

 

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Find your bearings...

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.

2021 season for this region
Starts on 26th April and ends on 31st October 2021. More detail and restrictions

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


Useful information

 Good to go - visit Scotland

We’ve been awarded the Visit Scotland ‘We’re Good to Go’ industry charter mark. That means our operations meet Government and public health guidance on COVID-19 and that we have all the required health and safety processes in place to safely open. We look forward to see 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, 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.

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 £10 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 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

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 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. 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 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.  

Cruising on the Caledonian canal

Laggan RETURN via Inverness & Banavie

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

25 hr(s) of cruising

193km 24 lock(s) 7 nights

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 feel a world away on your Caledonian Canal boat trip. 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 holiday:

  • 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 135km 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 atmosphere 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 lock(s) 7 nights
Urquhart Castle on the shore of Loch Ness

Laggan RETURN via Banavie & Fort Augustus

Laggan
Gairlochy
Banavie
Invergarry
Fort-Augustus
Laggan

13 hr(s) of cruising

65km 12 lock(s) 3 nights

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 holiday! 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 holiday:

  • 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 lock(s) 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 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
Added on 9 August 2021

Jonathan Shaw said

Bikes supplied didn’t work loose handlebars. All extras ordered we had to argue over as they didn’t have records Parisol no base. Boat was good. Needs more plug outlets and better battery to power appliances at sea.
READ MORE
Good Afternoon Jonathan. Thank you for taking the time to provide a review of your boating holiday on the Caledonian Canal. Apologies to hear you had some issues with extras you had purchased, but we hope this was sorted swiftly for you. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Magnifique
Added on 31 July 2021

Nicholas Tinson said

Collection and Return of the Boat were easy with no delay. Boat was fairly well equipped (no complaints). Stunning scenery, what a great way to spend a week. Fantastic experience cruising on the Caledonian Canal and the Lochs between Inverness and Fort william
READ MORE
Hi Nicholas, 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
Consul
Added on 30 July 2021

Robin Davies said

Excellent customer service and quick to react to our issues. Very good instructions at the start. Boat was well maintained and clean Very easy to navigate, the locks were well manned and very friendly
READ MORE
Hi Robin, Thank you for taking the time to provide a 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
Classique
Added on 30 July 2021

A trusted customer said

Friendly service and a nice boat Beautiful scenery - great loch swimming
READ MORE
Good Afternoon, Thank you for taking the time to provide a review of your boating holiday on the Caledonian Canal. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Magnifique
Added on 26 July 2021

Mary Wright said

For the most part it was a good experience and great holiday. Anne and Sheila at the base were really nice and very helpful. Our only gripe was the initial briefing that the captain and 2nd in command were given. There were little things that should have been said to us in advance. There was a key for showers on moorings that we didn't know about until we asked someone else and they said we could use them. The guy didn't know the direction on the canal to Loch Nesse!! When we had the issue of running aground, it was handled very well and we received the best of help from the RNLI but we could have avoided having to be towed to Fort Augustus if the boat was not idling in reverse rather than neutral. That cost us the 2nd last night and some hours the next morning. Thankfully, when this was explained at the office the issue was waivered. I would appreciate if you would have all your boats double checked properly to avoid this in future. It could have been a much worse situation if we presumed the boat was in neutral and one of us had jumped off the back for a swim and got dragged in the the propeller like the ropes from the RNLI boat did. That is not a funny thing to think about. Saying all that, I loved it and would recommend it and do it all again. The weather helped enormously. That, I personally arranged!! Thank you for everything. Mary Wright I've said most of what I thought in the above section. Overall the boat was fantastic. Plenty of room for all of us. The cruise was amazing but I would emphasize the importance of showing on the charts that particular shallow part where we went near Invermoriston and seriously warn customers how shallow it is.
READ MORE
Hi Mary, Thank you for taking the time to provide a 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 are sorry to hear that the initial briefing was not thorough We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon. We are glad to hear that we were able to sort out the idling and that there were no further issues. I hope you were able to communicate everything to the base team, but I will make sure this feedback get back to the right teams. The Le Boat Team
Laggan - Laggan
Magnifique
Added on 26 July 2021

Caraline Browning said

We loved it, the boat was just right for six of us, all the staff friendly and helpful. The locks are all manned with helpful cheery staff Perfect place, fabulous boat, lovely people
READ MORE
Hi Caraline, 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
Royal Star WHS
Added on 24 July 2021

A trusted customer said

I’m a returning customer, this years booking process, hand over of boat, quality of boat and linen was as perfect as last year. Highly recommend and a trip along the Caledonian Canal is unbeatable If it’s a short cruise of Loch Lochy and Loch oich, or large cruise from Fort William boundary to Inverness, Laggan is perfectly positioned to facilitate both
READ MORE
Good Evening, 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 17 July 2021

Isabel Page-Jones said

Everything went well from the moment we booked until we gave the boat back. The staff is very friendly, helpful and able to adapt to different circumstances (e.g. when we arrived very late on day 1 duo to a car accident on the main road leading to the boat yard, they made all necessary arrangements, so that we could still arrive on that day and stay at the boat, instead of looking for alternative accommodation). The boat was in good condition and as we expected. Any queries were answered promptly and effectively. We would do it again and would certainly recommend it to everyone. Nothing beats the scenery of the Scottish Highlands. The boat was great with everything we needed.
READ MORE
Hi Isabel, 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
Braemore WHS