Our Skipper’s Guides are your complete reference guide to boating on the Scottish Canals. Your guide includes important safety information as well as details of moorings and facilities and can be purchased on arrival (£4.50) or download your free copy of the Skippers’ Guide beforehand.
Transit & Short Term Visitor Licences
All powered craft using the Scottish canals require a licence, and we have a variety of short-term and transit licences available to suit your requirements. Licences are available to purchase at the Sea Locks or Canal Offices. Download the Transit & Short Term Visitor Licences for Leisure Craft to find out more.
Locks & Bridges
There are 29 locks and 10 swing bridges along the waterway, all of which are operated for your convenience by trained staff.
- LOA 45.72m (150ft). Length overall including fenders, bowsprits, davits, tenders, rudders and any other extension fore and/or aft of the boat. This can be reduced by retracting bowsprits.
- Draught 4.11m* (13ft 6in) – vessels with a draught over 3.8m (12ft 6in) should contact the Canal Office before arrival. Boat depth below the waterline. Remember to adjust your draught for freshwater by adding 0.1m per metre of your draught.
- Beam 10.67m (35ft). Width of the boat including fenders.
*Due to a combination of low water levels in Loch Oich and an outflow of silt into the canal at Laggan Spout, skippers of vessels with fresh water drafts of 3.2m or more should contact the Caledonian Canal office on 01463 725500 in advance of arrival to check transit arrangements.
Spring: Wednesday 17th April – Sunday 26th May
- 8.30am – 5.30pm (7 days)
Summer: Monday 27th May – Sunday 1st September
- 8.00am – 6pm (7 days)
Autumn: Monday 2nd September – Sunday 3rd November
- 8.30am – 5.30pm (7 days)
- 21st October – 3rd November passage MUST be booked at least 24 hours in advance with the sea locks or canal office on 01463 725500.
Winter: Closed to through traffic from 5.30pm Sunday 3rd November 2019 until 8.30am Saturday 28th March 2020
- 9am – 4pm (Monday – Friday) – some short sections of the canal may be navigable. See our winter works programme for more information
- Any passage during this time MUST be booked at least 24 hours in advance with the Canal Office in Inverness on 01463 725500
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.
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. Boaters can enjoy sailing in the loch sections, however, due to safety reasons, vessels must be rowed or under power at all times in the manmade reaches of the canal.
The Bye Laws of the Caledonian Canal, which have been in force since 1966, require that vessels comply with the speed limits of 6 m.p.h. (5.2 knots) in any part of the canal where ‘the waterway has been raised artificially’ and Skippers are required to pass moored craft at ‘Dead Slow’. Please download our Large Craft Operating Protocol for full details.
Please be advised that other than for reasons of safety, the canal ROAD swing bridges will NOT be opened to boat traffic at specific times. Download the Swing Bridge Peak Time Restriction for details.
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.
Canal Works & Updates
Check our Canal Works & Updates pages for details of current works along the Caledonian Canal.