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.

Dimensions

  • 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

Operating Hours

Spring: From Monday 26th March, 7 days, 8.30am – 5.30pm

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

Please note that we are closed until 9.30am on Friday 4th May, 29th June and 31st August for staff training.

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. Sailing in the manmade canal reaches is prohibited by canal byelaws – vessels must be rowed or under power.

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.

VHF

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.