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.
Border Restrictions – Quarantine
From 8th June 2020 Scotland and the UK have had in place entry restrictions at borders for Covid-19 security. People arriving from countries without a current ‘travel corridor’ are subject to 14 days quarantine.
A list of countries with current travel corridors with Scotland can be found here. Please note this list can and does change at very short notice.
Boaters are advised that it is NOT possible for people arriving into Scotland from a country without a current travel corridor to be aboard a vessel transiting through any of the Scottish Canals during their period of quarantine. People already aboard a vessel which has begun transit through one of the Scottish Canals when one of the travel corridors closes will however be allowed to continue their journey with the minimum number of overnight stops to complete their transit.
For more information relating to Covid-19 and how it may affect your transit please click here.
Operating Hours 2020
Scottish Canals is pleased to confirm that the Caledonian Canal re-opened on Wednesday 22nd July 2020.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on operations and budgets, and therefore the way we operate the canals this year will look different.
From 22nd July until 1st November 2020 the new opening hours for the canal will be seven days a week, 8.30am – 5.30pm, with a one hour break for lunch (this time will determined locally).
As there will be fewer seasonal lock keepers joining the team this year, this means that locks and bridges won’t be permanently manned. Instead, each district will be operated with a mobile team of staff. Although our teams will do their best to move boats as quickly and efficiently as possible, boaters may need to wait at some locks and bridges whilst staff operate structures elsewhere. We ask that boaters allow up to an extra one or two days for their canal transits this year.
To ensure that we can operate the canal safely in line with Covid-19 public health guidance, we will require all boaters to be responsible for their own lines at every lock – both from the boat at single locks and from ashore at lock flights. Vessels should have sufficient competent crew aboard the boat at all times when on transit through the canal. We will not be able to accommodate transit for boats with insufficient crew.
The need to maintain a safe social distance between boaters, lock keepers and the public means that we will be able to fit fewer boats into each lock chamber. Boaters may be asked to wait if the lock chamber has reached safe capacity.
So that our mobile lock keeping teams can plan the most efficient use of their time each day, we will be operating Fort Augustus in the morning only, therefore please ensure you arrive the previous evening in preparation for the locking which will occur the following morning.
On arrival at Fort Augustus, if your intent to lock up the flight in the morning then please berth as close to the lock gates as possible. The first locking will commence at approximately 8.30 am from the top heading down the flight, therefore please ensure you are ready then, prepared to receive further instruction from the lock keepers. Once all the downward lockings have been completed then lockings up the flight will commence (there will be as many lockings completed in either direction as required in order to clear the developed queue). The mobile teams will then proceed south west towards Kytra, Cullochy, Aberchalder to allow vessels transit onto Loch Oich.
Dochgarroch, Tomahurich Bridge, Laggan Bridge, Laggan Locks and Gairlochy Locks will usually have team members stationed there. On arrival and in the absence of a lock / bridge keeper then please check to see if there is a telephone number to call on the door of the operation booth (please be aware that personnel may be cutting grass so have a look around to see if this is possibly the case).
Having to operate and transit the canal in these conditions is obviously new for all of us and we therefore ask that, for everyone’s safety and peace of mind, our customers show patience, understanding and kindness to our teams, their fellow boaters, and the communities with which you engage.
Single-Handed Boaters – sufficient competent crew
Due to reduced staffing numbers, we are unable to guarantee assistance to single-handed boaters or boaters with insufficient competent crew, so please ensure you have sufficient crew onboard to handle your ropes. Single-handed boaters are likely to experience delays, may be asked to buddy with another vessel or, in some circumstances, may be refused transit.
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.