A Week on the Caledonian Canal, Scotland, July 2011

Start & end base:

West Highland Sailing, Laggan Locks, Spean Bridge, Inverness-shire, Scotland


Elegance class, number 18

Many more pictures are available via a Flickr set here You can email me here
Index 1 July

Saturday 2 July 2011

3 July

Another beautiful day with sun, blue skies and high whispy clouds greeted us. After a leisurely breakfast we set off just after 9am towards Banavie. We had decided to aim to get to Banavie around lunchtime, moor and have a look at Neptune's Staircase - a set of 7 locks and the end of navigation for hired motor cruisers.

The journey through Loch Lochy was stunning, with Ben Nevis almost perfectly clear all the way. The navigation guides highlighted "Conspicuous Houses", so we were looking out for them and guessing which they were.

Just after an hour of peaceful sailing, hardly seeing any other craft, we passed a fish farm and entered the Gairlochy locks section.

We moored for an hour to await the lock keeper's instructions, used the bin facilities and looked around this very pretty area.

Leaving Gairlochy behind us, we passed through Moy swing bridge being painted by the lock keeper, and after 1 hours of gentle cruising we arrived and moored at Banavie. We had a spot of lunch and decided to look at Neptune's Staircase.

Ben Nevis from Loch Lochy

Gairlochy upper lock basin



Kathleen Anne at Neptune's staircase

Ben Nevis range from Gairlochy

A large motor yacht, the Kathleen Anne, was reversing up the locks to moor. Apparently there were no customers for the week.

We asked one of the lock workers where the nearest shop was so that we could get some more provisions. He said that it was about 10-15 minutes down the lower part of Neptune's staircase and along the canal towpath. It was actually over 30 minutes to the Co-operative stores in Corpach, but a lovely walk along canal with views of a clear Ben Nevis and a game of Shinty being played.

We arrived back at the boat and decided to fill up with water. This took about 20 minutes! We had a cup of coffee and discussed a plan for the evening mooring. Gairlochy was just over an hour away, and with locks closing 5-6pm, we decided to head there for the night as it was a lovely spot, having been there earlier in the day before lunchtime.

Arriving at Gairlochy lower locks at 5.30pm, we moored ready for the morning lock opening. The evening was very still with the water almost glass-like. The sky was clear and in evening sun there were amazing views of Ben Nevis.

We were then treated to an amazing close encounter with 2 stags. After dinner we walked a short distance along the narrow road, just to explore a little, then saw the stags. They didn't seem very worried and stayed around grazing in the undergrowth for a couple of hours. I have a 2 minute video of this encounter available via Youtube.


Letterfinlay -> Gairlochy Locks. Cruising time : 1 hours
Sat nav n56.91458, w4.9923
Gairlochy Locks -> Banavie. Cruising time : 1 hours (1 lock, 1 swing bridge)
Sat nav n56.84982, w5.0877
Banavie -> Gairlochy Locks. Cruising time : 1 hours (1 swing bridge)
Sat nav n56.91211, w4.9990

Index 1 July

Saturday 2 July 2011

3 July