The itinerary for the Caledonian Canal Explorer is very flexible and here are some highlights. These are described from Oban to Inverness, simply reverse for the return trip!
Experience the open water of the magnificent sea loch of Loch Linnhe with the opportunity of seeing dolphins, seals and white-tailed eagles. Anchor at Port Ramsey on the Isle of Lismore with stunning views to the west and north east to the towering mass of Ben Nevis and the opportunity to go ashore to explore.
Cruise past the quintessential Scottish castle, Castle Stalker on its tidal island and go ashore at Appin to the Wildlife Hub Visitor Centre, an excellent place to learn all about the Argyll Wildlife. There is an option for a walk at the nearby Loch Laich Nature Reserve.
Navigating the Corran Narrows, with breathtaking views of the Ben Nevis Mountain Range, enter the 60 mile stretch of the Caledonian Canal, which is a comprised of three inland lochs, 22 miles of built canal and 29 locks. Anchor for the night at Corpach, a lovely spot for an evening stroll along the canal towpath.
Our vessel enters the engineering marvel of Neptune’s Staircase with its unique ladder of 8 locks which takes 90 minutes to rise 500 feet above sea level. Once through the Staircase, cruise to Gairlochy for the option of a one-way walk along the towpath.
More locks are navigated to reach Loch Lochy, the first of the inland lochs where red deer stags may be heard rutting in the hills. Loch Lochy, has spectacular views down the Loch, and a good place to try a spot of fishing for trout or pike! At the far side of the loch we reach a tree lined corridor of canal, with fabulous autumn colours and the chance of spotting red squirrels which leads to the second inland loch, Loch Oich. The South Laggan Fen SSSI is a good place to try and spot Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting as well as identify many rare plants.
We reach Fort Augustus at the start of fabulous Loch Ness for an overnight anchorage. It is a lively village with lots to do including the Clansman Centre, the Caledonian Canal Visitor Centre or to enjoy a drink in one of the canal-side inns to watch the boat coming down the 5 impressive locks in the centre of the village.
The locks at Fort Augustus take the vessel down to the level of Loch Ness, our final inland loch which is so large it can feel like the open sea! We cruise the length of Loch Ness to soak in the beauty and scenery, keeping an eye out for monsters! It is also a good area for spotting for Golden Eagles and Ospreys overhead. There is the option of a stunning walk on the south side of the Loch at Falls of Foyers.
A highlight of the cruise is Urquhart Castle, dramatically situated on the banks of Loch Ness: an impressive anchorage for the night and a breathtaking backdrop for dinner! We go ashore to explore the castle and visitor centre.
Approaching the end of Loch Ness we reach the scenic Muirtown Basin, near Inverness. Guests can go ashore to walk to the very end of the canal where it enters the sea at Clachnaharry, having then travelled the entire length of the Caledonian Canal.