Caledonian Canal Skipper’s Guide
Our Skipper’s Guide tells you everything you need to know about boating on the Caledonian Canal. Along with important safety advice, you’ll find details of moorings, facilities and much more.
Safety on the Caledonian Canal
- Do have an adequate number of competent crew aboard. Single-handed passage is possible but may be subject to delays depending on staff availability to assist.
- Do take time to plan ahead, lay out warps, fenders, and clear decks before you set off.
- Do check fuel and oil levels before starting the engine and also that all controls are working properly.
- Do make sure that children and non swimmers wear life jackets.
- Do relax and take your time.
- Do not speed in the waterway, this damages banks and affects other waterway users.
- Do not cruise after darkness.
- Do not cruise near weirs, or attempt to shoot them in canoes.
- Do not allow pets to wander – keep them on leads and do not allow them to foul the canal banks.
Special note should be taken of the tidal restrictions at sea locks. Within normal operating hours, Corpach Sea Lock is available ≥ 1m, and Clachnaharry Sea Lock is available ≥ 1.4m. This restriction for sufficient depth to float the sea lock gates. At low water and spring tides the sea locks are CLOSED 2 HOURS (or a little longer) either side of low tide.
Contact the Sea Lock Keeper on VHF CH 74 for advice.
Corpach Basin is at times used by large freight vessels which require room to manoeuvre, therefore it is rarely available for berthing leisure craft. Please follow the lock keeper’s advice and berth where directed.
Information is contained in the following publications; Pilots: The Admiralty North Coast of Scotland Pilot (NP52) and the Admiralty West Coast of Scotland Pilot (NP66), both of which can be obtained from Admiralty chart agents.
Also in Yachtsman’s Pilots published by Imray, Laurie, Norie & Wilson, and by Clyde Cruising Club.
Charts: Eastern Approaches: – Moray Firth 115, Inverness Firth 1078, Caledonian Canal 1791. Western Approaches – Loch Linnhe (North) 2380, Fort William and Corpach 2372.
Skippers of narrowboats are requested to contact the canal office for specific safety advice in advance of arrival.
Seaport Marina has one foating slipway for small, non-motorised craft only.
- Caley Marina: 01463 236328
- Great Glen Water Park: 01809 501381
- Corpach Boat Builders: 01397 772861
- Dores / Inchnacardoch Bay - check slipways for access details.
Please check slipways for suitability before use.
Jetties and transit moorings
There are transit jetties adjacent to most locks and bridges. Please check with lock keeper as to the best place to berth, particularly if you plan a long stay. During the summer season, it is helpful if skippers of large vessels (LOA ≥ 15m) call the canal office prior to arrival, to allow planning of overnight berthing on passage.
Customs and Immigration Procedure
Overseas vessels wishing to make first UK landfall at the Caledonian Canal must follow carefully these two entry procedures, from UK Border Force, in advance of arrival:
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
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)
Swing Bridge Protocols
Please be advised that other than for safety reasons, the canal road swing bridges will NOT be opened to boat traffic at the following times:
Muirtown Swing Bridge - not open to canal traffic at the following times all year:
Monday to Friday 08:15 – 09:20 12:10 – 13:20 16:25 – 17:45
Saturdays 08:20 – 09:20 13:15 – 13:45 17:00 – 17:30
Sundays 08:20 – 09:20 10:20 – 10:50 13:15 – 13:45 17:00 – 17:30
Fort Augustus Swing Bridge - not open to canal traffic at the following times:
Monday to Friday (during school term) 08:20 – 09:00
Monday to Friday (during school holidays) 08:40 – 09:00
Banavie Road Swing Bridge - not open to canal traffic at the following times all year:
Monday to Friday 08:30 – 09:00 13:30 – 14:00