A Caledonian Canal Cruise: The Scottish Experience

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • Dates
  • St Hilda Sea Adventures

Cruise the Caledonian Canal in a small ship

One of the best ways to have a true Scottish Experience is to cruise Scotland’s Great Glen in a wee ship, sailing along the incredible Caledonian Canal. The Great Glen cuts the Scottish Highlands in half and the Caledonian Canal is an extraordinary feast of Victorian engineering that was devised by Thomas Telford to connect the east and west Scottish coasts and to allow ships to avoid the northern stormy water of the Pentland Firth and Cape Wrath.
 
Our six night Scottish cruises travel both ways through the Canal which connects Fort William on the west coast of Scotland, situated at the top of Loch Linnhe, to Inverness, on the east coast and the capital of the Highlands, situated on the Moray Firth. Guests can decide in which direction they wish to travel – either eastwards from Fort William or westwards from Inverness. Depending of your choice of travel through the canal we start the cruise in either Inverness (westwards) or Dunstaffnage Marina, near Oban, (eastwards).  The Caledonian canal is some 60 miles long  and its 29 locks, 10 bridges and 4 aqueducts link the lochs of Dochfour, Ness, Oich, and  Lochy. These spectacular sea and fresh water lochs are all located in the Great Glen. Throughout the cruises there are great walks, stunning wildlife, amazing sea and fresh water lochs and picturesque Highland villages and towns and, perhaps, even a chance of seeing the elusive Loch Ness monster!
 
The Caledonian canal transit fee is covered by us, with no extra costs to our guests.

 

Destinations
  • United Kingdom
  • Scotland
  • Europe
Tour Types
  • Cruise
  • Active
  • Family
  • Sailing
  • Scenic
  • Singles
  • Small Group
  • Walking
  • Wildlife
Departure Points
  • Scotland
Some of the places we may visit are:
 
Oban: If you are travelling east (the west cruise is, of course, this itinerary in reverse) we embark our vessels at 1330 at Dunstaffnage Marina, near Oban, the gateway to the Hebridean isles.
 
Shuna Island:  We head out into beautiful Loch Linnhe and cruise along the east side of the picturesque Isle of Lismore to an anchorage off lovely Shuna Island. We will pass the famous Castle Stalker located on a small tidal loch and our spectacular backdrop up ahead is the Ben Nevis mountain range.
 
Corpach, Caledonian Canal entrance: To arrive at the Caledonian Canal entrance we cruise up Loch Linnhe. In this stunning sea loch you will have the opportunity to see many types of sea birds, including sea eagles, as well as dolphins, seals and the occasional whale. We are surrounded with fantastic scenery with the impressive Ben Nevis mountain becoming closer as we travel up the loch. After carefully navigating the Corran Narrows we anchor off the Canal entrance at Corpach.
 
Caledonian Canal: We enter the canal and climb up through the eight locks of “Neptune’s Staircase” to rise nearly 500 feet above the sea.  You can walk along the towpath or stay on board as we climb. Then we cruise to Gairlochy and our first inland, freshwater loch which is the long and narrow Loch Lochy. In the autumn, the surrounding hills are alive to the bellows of the rutting stags and the tree-lined parts of the canal are truly magnificent in their autumn colours. We cruise on through beautiful Loch Oich to reach the town of Fort Augustus.
 
Fort Augustus, Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness: We can visit the bustling town of Fort Augustus with its canal side pubs, Clansman Centre and Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre. When we leave the town we begin our descent through the locks to Loch Ness. This a large, long (23 miles) very deep loch and is famous for golden eagles, ospreys and of course “Nessie”! We can anchor off the fabulous, historical Urquhart Castle for an incredibly scenic night. 
 
Drumnadrochit: We can visit the pretty village of Drumnadrochit, home to the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, and surrounded by Glen Moriston and Glen Urquhart. We finally cruise to the end of Loch Ness and arrive at Muirtown Basin, near Inverness.
 
Inverness: Inverness is a beautiful historic city, capital of the Highlands, and not far from the site of the famous Battle of Culloden. For the active there is the Ness Island Trail, which follows the River Ness, and you can even walk the towpath to the Canal’s end at Clachnaharry, where it enters the sea.
 
But please note that this itinerary is an example itinerary and is weather dependant.
 

 

  • Comfortable cabin accommodation (option for either shared or ensuite bathroom facilities - prices available on request)
  • Onboard Skipper and Chef
  • Planned and flexible itineraries
  • Unique on-board and ashore activities
  • Small groups and a relaxed approach
  • Breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner (fruit on demand, coffee and afternoon tea, pre-dinner aperitif and wine with dinner)

Dates Price Single Availability
08-Sep-2019 for 6 Nights Visit Website
16-Sep-2019 for 6 Nights Visit Website

Touring with St Hilda Sea Adventures

St Hilda Sea Adventures is a family run business offering a unique way to discover western Scotland. They take their passengers (couples, singles, and families) to the majestic west coast of Scotland: the Outer and Inner Hebrides and Argyll - beautiful, unspoiled coastlines of spectacular sea lochs, stunning Hebridean landscapes and incredible wildlife including soaring sea and golden eagles, basking sharks, minke and killer whales, porpoises, dolphins, myriads of seabirds and common and grey seals. They have even seen a breaching humpback whale! They anchor in the most sheltered, idyllic places, in some of Scotland's world famous islands such as Skye, St Kilda, Mull, Jura, Islay, Staffa and Iona where you can observe the wildlife, fish, swim in the sea lochs, visit famous malt whisky distilleries or just go ashore and explore.

They appeal to all ages with many on board activities. Guests can set the sails (on ex-tall ship St Hilda), shoot a lobster pot, explore the rock pools, swim off the boat and even fish for supper. Or, guests can also learn how to tie knots or just simply sit back (and photograph) and enjoy the wildlife. Because they only take a maximum of eleven guests (six guests on St Hilda, eleven guests on Seahorse II), and by the very nature of the holiday, solos, groups and families quickly gel and make friendships that often continue beyond the voyage. Their itineraries are planned and are flexible to meet all ages and capabilities with their overall aim to create a memorable sea adventure holiday in Scotland that is both fun and informal.

Guests can choose to book St Hilda or Seahorse II. St Hilda is a traditional, wooden 54ft ketch. She is an ex-tall ship and sail training vessel and on St Hilda, youngsters and adults love to help work the sails. St Hilda was built in Scotland in St Monans, Fife, in a family-owned (Miller's) boatyard specifically for sail training with a crew of 20, which is why she is such a spacious yacht for her six guests.
Seahorse II (82 feet long) was built to the highest standard for the Norwegian fjords and life in the high northern latitudes and is powerful enough to cruise the many spectacular islands, stacks and lochs of Scotland’s West Coast yet small enough to anchor in remote and hauntingly beautiful places that larger passenger ships are unable to visit. On the spacious aft deck, there is a powerful little crane for launching tenders and sea kayaks.

The roomy deck saloons are where everyone dines and socialises and the outdoor decks are perfect for spotting wildlife, relaxing and eating al fresco and, throughout the cruise, you will have the services of your own skipper and cook. There is plenty of room on the decks to carry canoes, windsurfers or cycles. The small ships’ tenders can also take you ashore for some wonderful, serious coastal and cliff walks or you could just wander along the shore beachcombing and examining the pretty seaside rock pools.

 

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tour details

This tour is operated by St Hilda Sea Adventures

6 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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Visit website Enquire Small ship cruising and wildlife holidays on the beautiful west coast of Scotland
Group Size:0 - 11
Suitable For: All ages
Accommodation:Comfortable cabin accommodation
Difficulty:Easy
Meals:Breakfast, snacks, lunch & dinner
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