Boating on the Caledonian Canal

Explore the Caledonian Canal by boat

Bring your own boat, hire a cruiser or charter a yacht for a canal holiday, take a day-trip on Loch Ness, or stay on a hotel boat or holiday barge. Take in the spectacular Scottish scenery and amazing wildlife.

Boating on the Caledonian Canal is unlike any other canal boat experience in the UK. With short stretches of man-made canal linking the scenic Scottish lochs, this is a stunning location for a canal boat holiday or any kind of cruising. Watch the Great Glen Ways Video and you will be persuaded!

The canal is popular with sailors who want to avoid the lengthy passage around Cape Wrath en route to and from the west coast cruising grounds. It is ideal for yachts and cruisers; in fact, sailing across Loch Ness is more akin to a short sea crossing than a canal journey! Hire a boat for a day or a week and discover this stunning stretch of water. Find out more about Caledonian Boat Hire.

Boaters should allow a minimum of two and a half days to transit the canal. But why rush? Take some time sailing around Loch Ness, or explore the wonderful waterside scenery. See what the Great Glen has to offer.

Skipper's Guide

The Skipper's Guide for the Caledonian Canal is the complete reference guide to boating on this unique canal.

Check our Canal Works & Boater's Updates page for details of current works along the Caledonian Canal.

Get a Licence

Find out how much your journey will cost by using our online price calculator or download our Transit & Short Term Licence Fees to find out more about transiting the canal. Licences are available at either of the Sea Locks or at Seaport Marina.

Operating Hours


Spring 2015: Mon 23 Mar - Sun 24 May
8.30am - 5.30pm 7 days
Summer 2015: Mon 25 May - Sun 30 Aug
8.00am - 6.00pm 7 days
Autumn 2015: Mon 31 Aug - Sun 1 Nov
8.30am - 5.30pm 7 days
Winter 2015: Mon 2 Nov - tbc 9.00am - 4.00pm Mon - Fri

Please note that due to reduced staffing numbers, we are unable to guarantee assistance to single-handed boaters, so please ensure you have sufficient crew onboard to handle your ropes. Single-handed boaters are likely to experience delays.


Vessels wishing to enter Clachnaharry Sea Lock should radio the Sea Lock Keeper on VHF Channel 74 or 16 as they pass under the Kessock Bridge. Radio Corpach Sea Lock as the Sea Lock comes in to sight. This allows the Lock Keepers to advise of any boat movements and prepare for your arrival.

Dinghies and Unpowered Craft

If your boat is unpowered but too large or heavy to portage around the lock chambers then it will need to have a canal licence. For safety reasons occupants of small unpowered craft using the lock chambers are likely to be asked to disembark and pull the craft through on ropes. Sailing in the manmade canal reaches is prohibited by canal byelaws - vessels must be rowed or under power.

Long Term Moorings

There are waiting lists for all long-term moorings along the canal. To find out more about staying on the canal long-term, take a look at our terms and conditions. If you would like to join our waiting list, download our long-term mooring pack.

Planning to transit the canal and leave your boat in Inverness for up to a month?

Call us on 01463 725500 for our great value transit & berth rates!

check clean dry

We need your help - Non Native Species

'CHECK-CLEAN DRY' - 3 simple steps of a campaign to encourage all water users to help stop the spread of invasive aquatic species. Invasive species including zebra mussel, New Zealand Pigmyweed and Killer shrimp can affect fish and other wildlife, restrict navigation, clog up propellers and are costly to manage.

Download the official poster

Visiting Boats Survey

Once you've visited us, why not fill out our quick online visiting boats survey, and let us know about your experiences on the canal?

We really appreciate feedback to help us improve the services we provide.

Clachnaharry boats

Top tips

  • Do you supply water points?
    Yes but you must bring your own hose as we do not supply these.
  • How much will it cost?
    Prices depend on the size of your boat and how long you want to stay. Use the boat transit ready reckoner on our boating pages to check prices.
  • How long does it take to go through the canal?
    You should allow a minimum of 2 1/2 days. During the busy season this could be longer. Our shortest licence is 8 days so gives you plenty of time to explore everything the Canal and the Great Glen have to offer. You will find the operating times on the boating pages.
  • Is there a speed limit on the canal?
    The maximum speed allowed on the canal sections is 5 knots. But remember that excess speed can damage canal banks and other water users. There is no restriction on the lochs.
  • Do I need to bring anything for locking?
    Basic equipment needed for locking: 3 or 4 good quality ropes (15m length recommended) fenders to protect topsides - 3 or 4 per side should be enough lifejackets should available, and preferably worn, for all crew
  • Can I visit the Caledonian Canal on my Canal & River Trust licence?
    We’re sorry but there are no reciprocal licence agreements between The Canal and River Trust and Scottish Canals.
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