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

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Index 4 July

Tuesday 5 July 2011

6 July

A cloudy but dry and fairly still morning greeted us for the trip through Loch Ness towards Inverness. The navigation charts say allow 4 hours for this section, so we had planned to stop near Urquhart castle at lunchtime which was about of the way along the loch.

Leaving Fort Augustus at 9am, the charts again said look for "Conspicuous Houses". We passed the entrance to Foyers and a Hydro Electric power station after a couple of hours, and then just before midday we were passing Urquhart castle ruins. We slowed down from our 6mph to a crawl to take some pictures and look through binoculars, before mooring at Urquhart Bay Harbour 15 minutes later.

It's quite a small harbour and has a narrow channel to follow in and out. Surprisingly we were the only ones there. There is a fee to pay of around 4 for a couple of hours. A pay machine similar to a car parking meter is close by.

From here is it possible to visit the Loch Ness Monster Centre & Exhibition at Drumnadrochit. It is approximately 1 miles from the harbour along a fairly busy road, though there is a footpath alongside.

Loch Ness

Urquhart castle



Moored at Urquhart Bay Harbour

Dochgarroch Lock

The sun had come out when we left the harbour, and we headed for Dochgarroch Lock just past Loch Dochfour. We had decided that this would be our stop for the evening and the nearest we would get to Inverness due to the distance we had to travel back to Laggan to finish our trip.

We never did see any sea monsters, though we happened to spot a large purple Nessie next to The Clansman. After an hour, we had reached Lochend and saw Aldourie Castle through the trees.

There is a narrow channel to follow into Loch Dochfour, past Bona lighthouse and some wrecks of old coal boats. River Ness flows right next to the canal cutting so care is needed to navigate correctly.

Approaching Dochgarroch Lock, the canal narrows and there are a lot of private moorings. We found an empty public mooring place very close to the lock and moored ready for the evening. There's a very pretty old lock keeper's cottage (now privately owned) next to the towpath, with a lovely garden and was full of a wide variety of feeding birds.

We had enough provisions to make some pizzas, and although there was a rather funny incident (which I shall not go into), they did taste nice - especially after a few glasses of wine.

It started to drizzle, and was the first rain of the week so far. We had been incredibly lucky.


Fort Augustus bottom lock -> Urquhart Bay. Cruising time : 3 hours
Sat nav n57.33634, w4.4494
Urquhart Bay -> Dochgarroch Lock. Cruising time : 1 hours
Sat nav n57.43265, w4.3037

Index 4 July

Tuesday 5 July 2011

6 July