Plan Your Trip

Offering a coast-to-coast link through spectacular scenery in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, the Caledonian Canal is approximately 60 miles (96.5km) in length. 22 miles (35.4km) of this is man-made, with the remainder being formed by natural fresh water lochs.

Skipper’s Guide

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 3.4m or more should contact the Caledonian Canal office on 01463 725500 in advance of arrival to check transit arrangements.

Draught restrictions for coast to coast transits – Following the removal of the second set of lock gates at Fort Augustus, maximum draft is 3 metres and maximum beam at this draft is 7.8 metres. Find out more here.

Operating Hours

Winter:  Monday 5th November – Monday 8th April

  • Monday – Friday, 9am – 4pm

Winter closures

The canal will be closed to through traffic from 4pm Wednesday 9th January 2019 until 8.30am Monday 8th April 2019.

During this closure, navigation of some sections of the canal will be possible within normal winter operating hours of Monday to Friday 9am – 4pm, with a minimum of 24 hours prior arrangement with the Canal Office in Inverness (T: 01463 725500).

When the canal re-opens to through traffic on Monday 8th April 2019, the canal’s Spring operating hours of 8.30am – 5.30pm 7 days per week will be in effect.

It is possible that there may also be some short closures at specific locations before or after this closure period – these will be noted on this page.

Christmas and New Year arrangements

Vessels wishing to transit sea-to-sea before the Christmas and New Year break MUST enter the canal by 9am on Wednesday 19th December 2018 at the very latest to be sure of transit.

Vessels entering the sea locks for safe haven at Corpach or Seaport Marina MUST arrive by midday on Monday 24th December 2018 at the very latest.

After New Year the canal will re-open to sea-to-sea traffic at 9am on Thursday 3rd January 2019 and will operate on normal winter hours (Monday to Friday, 9am – 4pm) until the closure begins at 4pm on Wednesday 9th January 2019.

Caledonian Canal Office Opening Hours:
  • Monday to Thursday 9am – 5pm
  • Friday 9am – 4.30pm

Single-Handed Boaters

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.

Speed Limit

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.

Swing Bridges

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.