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

Your complete reference guide to boating on the Caledonian Canal. 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 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.
  • Air Draught 35m (115ft). Boat height above waterline. Please note that clearance under the Kessock Bridge is lower at 29m (95ft).

Operating Hours

Winter 2017/2018: Monday 6 November – Monday 19th March, Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 4.00pm (Closed Saturday and Sunday)

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

Winter Closure

The Caledonian Canal will be closed to sea-to-sea traffic for a period this winter to allow essential repairs to be carried out at a number of canal locations.

Closed to through traffic from 4pm Friday 5th January 2018 until 9am Monday 19th March 2018.

During this closure navigation of some sections of the canal will be possible within our normal winter operating hours of Monday – Friday 9am – 4pm, with a minimum of 24 hours prior arrangement with the Canal Office (01463 725 500).

When the canal re-opens to through traffic on Monday 19th March 2018, normal winter operating hours of Monday – Friday, 9am – 4pm will apply for that week. From Monday 26th March the canal’s spring operating hours of 8.30am – 5.30pm 7 days per week will come into effect.

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 20th December 2017 at the very latest to be sure of transit.

Vessels entering the sea locks for safe haven at Corpach and Seaport Marina MUST arrive by midday on Friday 22nd December 2017 at the very latest.

After New Year the canal will re-open to sea-to-sea traffic at 9am on Wednesday 3rd January 2018 for 3 days before the winter closure comes into effect. During these 3 days, normal winter operating hours of 9am – 4pm will apply.

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.


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.