The sixty mile long Great Glen Canoe Trail journeys along the
two hundred year old Caledonian Canal, between Corpach, near Fort
William, and Inverness. It takes in Telford's man-made canal, four
lochs and offers alternative whitewater river sections along the
By offering different challenges and experiences within the one
trail, the Great Glen Canoe Trail will suit different abilities.
More than that, the partners behind the new trail believe it will
stand head to head with the UK's top canoeing destinations becoming
one of the country's most exciting new adventures for intermediate
and advanced paddlers.
The £600,000¹ project has been delivered by partners British
Waterways Scotland, The Highland Council (Planning and Development
Service), Scottish Natural Heritage and the Forestry Commission
Scotland with support from the Scottish Canoe Association and
financial assistance the European Regional Development Fund through
the Highlands and Islands Partnership Programme.
Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing
"Scotland's distinctiveness and warm welcome draws tourists from
across the globe. Each years thousands of visitors are
attracted by the quality of our unique landscapes and the wealth of
world class visitor experiences on offer. The Great Glen Canoe
Trail builds on Scotland's growing reputation as a first class
location for adventure tourism and will help attract even more
visitors to this stunning part of Scotland."
Riddell Graham, VisitScotland Director of
"This is excellent news for the local economy and for
positioning the Highlands and indeed Scotland as a major hotspot
"Our research has highlighted the importance of the adventure
tourism market to Scotland with a value in excess of £825m. As
Scotland's first formal canoe trail this will add to Scotland's
already burgeoning outdoor tourism experiences and further enhance
Scotland's reputation as the adventure capital of Europe whilst
also perfectly encapsulating the forthcoming Year of Natural
Russell Thomson, Waterway Manager, Highlands,
British Waterways Scotland, adds:
"This fantastic new sustainable route through the Great Glen
will bring many benefits to the Highlands both in supporting the
regional tourism economy and socially. Together with the Great Glen
Ways, which promotes the excellent opportunities for travelling
through the region by 'Boot, Boat and Bike', the Great Glen Canoe
Trail will help further position the Highlands as a world class,
year round choice for outdoor recreation, a must-visit
The Great Glen Canoe Trail will capitalise on what continues to be
the world's fastest growing watersport and boost what is already a
significant number of paddlers attracted to the Caledonian
Indeed, over 2,500 paddlers visited the Caledonian Canal in
2009. In anticipation of the opening of the new trail, 4,000
paddlers took to the waterway in 2010 attracted to the scenery and
the varying challenges of the waterway which includes two lochs
classed as Open Water and covered by HM Coastguard, Loch Lochy and
Once established, the Great Glen Canoe Trail is expected to
welcome an increasing number of paddlers each year. This is in
addition to the half a million visitors already seen on the
waterway and towpath annually.
By attracting the growing watersports market, the Great Glen
Canoe Trail will bring significant economic benefits to the
communities through which the waterway passes.
Each paddler spends an average of £100 per day during their trip
which is significantly more than walkers and cyclists. Last year,
paddlers visiting the Caledonian Canal spent an estimated £750,000
in the Great Glen and surrounding areas.
As well as offering a wilderness experience for paddlers, the
Caledonian Canal, itself a protected Scheduled Monument, offers
visitors an idyllic view of some of the Scotland's most stunning
landmarks from the more famous to the beautiful but unsung.
Attractions include Ben Nevis, Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle
through to the elegant cast iron 1812 Moy Bridge, which is the only
hand operated bridge on the canal, and the 1815 Bona Lighthouse at
the northern edge of Loch Ness, once the UK's only manned inland
To celebrate the launch of the Great Glen Canoe Trail, the
Scottish Canoe Association will host Paddlefest this weekend
(Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th March).
The two day Paddlefest event at Fort Augustus will include a
full programme of workshops by leading coaches from across the UK
and free taster sessions to encourage visitors to get out and about
on the Trail and experience the adventure of paddling for
Enjoying the Great Glen Canoe Trail
The Great Glen Canoe Trail can be travelled in sections or in
whole as a 3-5 day expedition. Open canoes, sea kayaks and touring
kayaks are recommended.
There's plenty of space in the four lochs - Lochy, Dochfour,
Ness and Oich - to experience a feeling of wilderness. As well as
the challenging open waters of Loch Ness and Loch Oich, experienced
paddlers can also choose to run the rivers Oich, Ness and Lochy
instead of traversing the canal sections.
The Great Glen Canoe Trail features low level access pontoons at
each of the Caledonian Canal's locks and bridges along with
canoe-accessible pontoon walkways.
The trail will also feature a series of 'Trailblazer Rests' or
informal campsites. The new 'Trailblazer Rests' which will be
established over the summer will include open side shelters, fire
pits and composting toilets.
Those planning to visit the Great Glen Canoe Trail during peak
season should bear in mind that the Trailblazer Rests will have
limited capacity. To be assured of accommodation during this time,
the partners recommend visitors book overnight pitches in one of
the many commercial campsites across the Great Glen.
There are also dedicated car parking facilities for paddlers at
either end of the Glen and specially designed canoe hitches dotted
along the route, allowing paddlers to secure equipment
overnight whilst using local food and accommodation businesses.
As well as waymarkers along the route, a website - www.greatglencanoetrail.info
has been created along with a trail map, guidebook and promotional
The Great Glen Way
The Great Glen Canoe Trail builds upon the success of the
partnership's Great Glen Ways project to attract tourists and local
visitors to travel sustainably through the region by 'boat, bike or
Paddlers will be able to use the 43 timber and stone Great Glen
Ways interpretative waymarkers which give an insight into the
folklore, history, geology, flora and fauna of the Great Glen.
Further information on the Great Glen Canoe Trail can be found
Further information on the Caledonian Canal can be found at www.scottishcanals.co.uk
Further information on the Great Glen Ways can be found at www.greatglenways.info
Issued by Joanna Harrison. For further information,
photographs or interviews, please telephone 07884
NOTES TO EDITORS
¹ The total project value is £601,800. Funding breaks down as
ERDF £270,500; British Waterways Scotland: £150,000; The
Highland Council £100,000; Scottish Natural Heritage £71,300;
Forestry Commission Scotland £10,000.
PARTNER AND SUPPORTIVE QUOTES:
Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of The Highland
Council's Planning Environment and Development
"The Highland Council is delighted to have been involved in the
creation of the Great Glen Canoe Trail, in conjunction with our
partners British Waterways and Forestry Commission Scotland.
This is a significant milestone as the Great Glen Canoe Trail
will become the first of 'Scotland's Great Trails' to be
water-based www.scotlandsgreattrails.org. It will
complement the walking and cycling opportunities already provided
on the Great Glen Way and the Great Glen Cycle Way, adding to the
range of visitor attractions and experiences and boosting the
economy of the area. The Council welcomes this initiative
and the close working partnership and co-operation
between the three agencies that this has engendered."
Dennis Malone, Chief Executive, Highlands and
Islands Partnership Programme:
"The Great Glen Canoe Trail is yet another fantastically
imaginative project building on the range of high quality outdoor
activities within the Great Glen - the Long Distance Route,
Mountain Biking and the Caledonian Canal. The opportunity to
attract additional tourists whilst enhancing the economic use of
the natural assets of the region is a major factor in support for
the Canoe Trail. I am delighted at the contribution the European
Regional Development fund has been able to make in the development
of this project".
Hamish Wood, Councillor Aird and Loch
"The opening marks the conclusion of many years in preparing and
designing a facility to benefit not only the community but also
bring people into the area. People are looking for an ever
increasing number of activity holidays and what could be better
than to canoe and camp on the shores of Loch Ness."
Chris Wright, Area Officer, Scottish Natural
"We are delighted to be involved in this long-distance canoe
trail, which is the first in Scotland and stretches 100km from Fort
William to Inverness. One of its main benefits will be providing
more facilities for canoeists using the Caledonian Canal and the
Great Glen, and the new trail will promote the Glen as a
world-class tourist destination. The project builds on the
award-winning Great Glen Ways project which was an access and
interpretation initiative to promote access along the glen by boot,
boat and bike. As use of the canal by paddlers has increased in
recent years it is important that improved facilities are made
available and this project has made a big difference."
Eddie Palmer, Scottish Canoe Association Director,
Access and Environment:
"The Scottish Canoe Association is very pleased to be part of
the partnership which has worked towards the inception of the trail
over the past six years. The Great Glen route offers a great
experience to both the beginning paddler and also the advanced
canoeist, with a long route that can be completed either in short
stages but also as a continuous adventure. There are few parts
of the British Isles that can supply all of the same ingredients as
this trail and different weather, water conditions and times of the
year will continue to make this a very differing experience for
returning paddlers and ensure the trail offers a great appeal. This
is a great outdoor trip."