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.

 

Book your transit

Canal Operating Details from 6.9.21

  • Please be aware of 3.3m fresh water draft restriction at Gairlochy Top Lock.
  • Covid 19 safety measures remain in place – boaters MUST handle their own ropes ashore on the lock flights and from the vessel at single locks
  • All vessels must have sufficient competent crew aboard to be permitted to transit. Single crewed vessels may experience delays.
  • Boaters should plan extra time for their journeys

Operations in each District of the canal will vary slightly:

East District (Clachnaharry Sea Lock – Dochgarroch Lock

Dochgarroch Lock and Tomnahurich / Torvean Bridges will be manned and boaters should call VHF ch 74 on approach or tie up and see the lock keeper / bridge keeper to arrange passage. Muirtown to Clachnaharry Sea Lock (and vice versa) will be normally be manned but may occasionally be operated with a mobile team and, on these occasions, notices will be posted on site with phone numbers for boaters to call to arrange passage. Boaters wishing to enter the canal at Clachnaharry Sea Lock should please call 24 hours in advance on 07920 237331 to arrange passage .

Middle District (Fort Augustus Flight – Laggan Locks)

Fort Augustus Flight – boaters MUST book their upward or downward locking with lock keepers on arrival (in person bookings only).  Fort Augustus Bottom laundry facilities are currently closed.

West District (Gairlochy Locks – Corpach Sea Lock)

Corpach Sea Lock to Gairlochy Lock will normally be manned but some sites may occasionally be operated with a mobile team and, on these occasions, notices will be posted on site with phone numbers for boaters to call to arrange passage. Gairlochy and Moy Bridge will always be operated with a mobile team, which will mean staff won’t always be available on site – boaters wishing to go through Moy Bridge or Gairlochy Locks and Bridge should please call 07717 342606 to schedule passage. Boaters wishing to enter the canal at Corpach Sea Lock should please call 24 hours in advance on 07917 348025 to arrange passage.

Update 27.09.21 – If you are unable to speak to the Corpach sea lock keeper on the mobile number above, please call 01397 772 249 and leave a message and contact number. Vessels over 15m loa; please e-mail caledonian@scottishcanals.co.uk a minimum of 5 days prior to planned transit.

Skipper’s Guide

Our Skipper’s Guide is your complete reference guide to boating on the Scottish Canals – including safety information and details or moorings and facilities.  Download your free copy of the Skippers’ Guide .

Transit & Short Term Visitor Licences

All powered craft using the Scottish canals require a licence, and we have a variety of visitor licences available . Licences are available to purchase online or at the Sea Locks. Download the Transit & Short Term Visitor Licences for Leisure Craft to find out more.

Locks & Bridges

There are 29 locks and 11 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 3m (9ft 8in) 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. Vessels with beam over 8m should contact the Canal Office before arrival.

*Due to a high spot at Gairlochy Top Lock, skippers of vessels with fresh water drafts of 3.3m or more should contact the Caledonian Canal office on 01463 725500 in advance of arrival to check transit arrangements.

Important Guidance for Overseas Vessels Visiting Scotland’s Canals

Post-Brexit Customs and Immigration Requirements

Overseas vessels wishing to make first UK landfall at the Caledonian, Crinan or Forth and Clyde Canals must now follow carefully these two entry procedures, from UK Border Force, in advance of arrival:

  1. Customs reporting procedure
  • Fly the yellow Q flag on entering UK Territorial waters (the 12-mile limit).
  • Complete Part 2 of the HMRC C1331 form (available on Gov.UK)
  • Call the HMRC National Yachtline +44 (0)300 123 2012 on arrival.
  • Declare any excess goods on the C1331 form and pay the duty/tax using the Online Service for Passengers via Gov.UK
  1. Immigration reporting procedure
  • Before disembarking your vessel, you must contact the local Border Force office to request permission to enter. In all cases for vessels visiting one of Scotland’s canals, this would be +44(0) 300 106 5725 (Border Force North, 24/7)

Scottish Government Covid-19 International Travel and Entry Restrictions

Update 4.10.21 – In recognition of the further easing of international travel to and from Scotland for leisure purposes, and the simplification if the Red, Amber and Green travel lists, the following criteria will apply to leisure vessels wishing to access the Scottish Canal network until notified otherwise:

  • Red Countries: No entry for vessels
  • Non-Red list Countries: The canal cannot be the first port of entry. Vessels with crew who are not fully vaccinated can only enter the canal on completion of their 10 days self-isolation and evidence of a negative PCR test after day 2 and day 8. Vessels with fully vaccinated crew can enter the canal after 3 days in the UK when evidencing a negative PCR test after the first 2 days and proof of vaccination
  • Arrivals from Common Travel Area (UK and Ireland including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands):  vessels will be permitted normal entry into the canals

Details of which colour categories countries fall into and more detailed guidance, including links to passenger locator forms and how to order your PCR test, can be found on the government website https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-international-travel-quarantine/pages/red-amber-and-green-list-countries/

For more information relating to Covid-19 and how it may affect your transit please click here.

Operating Hours 2021 – 2022

Spring

Saturday 1st May – Sunday 23rd May    7 days a week     8.30am – 5.30pm

Summer

Monday 24th May – Sunday 29th August    7 days a week    8am – 6pm

Autumn

Monday 30th August – Sunday 31st October    7 days a week   8.30am – 5.30pm

Winter

The Caledonian Canal will be closed to sea-to-sea traffic to allow major engineering work and essential repairs to be carried out at a number of sites.

Closed to through traffic from 5.30pm Sunday 31st October 2021 until 8.30am Friday 15th April 2022

We plan to re-open the canal for local navigation from 8.30am Saturday 9th April. Please note that Cullochy lock will not be open for navigation at this time.

Some limited sections of the canal may be available for local navigation during the winter closure period. This would be within normal winter operating hours of Monday – Friday 9am – 4pm, with a minimum of 2 working days prior arrangement with the Canal Office in Inverness (T: 01463 725500).

Details of the various works can be found on our here https://www.scottishcanals.co.uk/canal-works-stoppage-programme/

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  occupants of small unpowered craft using the lock chambers are will be asked to disembark and pull the craft through on ropes. Boaters should note that for 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.

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.