The Caledonian Canal runs 60 miles from the east coast to the west coast of Scotland. I am only writing about the section between Loch Ness to the Moray Firth in Inverness. To be more precise, I am going to describe a walk along the River Ness and the Caledonian Canal. This is a 22 km walk along the River Ness starting in the centre of the town, down to the canal, along the canal tow path to Loch Ness, then back again along the canal to the set of lochs leading to the Moray Frith in Inverness then back into the centre of town. It is a lovely walk and not at all strenuous as there is next to no ascent/decent. It takes around five hours. There is a shorter circuit of 11km if you do not have five hours to spare.
If you start at the city centre bridge, follow the River Ness, cross over the small bridge into Ness Park. The park has many impressive mature trees. We saw a treecreeper there and a water rail. We saw three dippers on the river and two goosander. Walk through the park to the Canal. You can then walk along the canal. The river runs parallel. There is no need to worry about navigation. You can’t get lost. The canal is beautiful. It is quiet and peaceful. A boat will occasionally pass by on the canal. To the left the river is shallow, wide and fast running. The views are terrific. The path on the map finishes at Dochgarroch Lock where boats enter Loch Ness but there is a path which continues a short distance to the confluence of the loch, river and the canal. From here you will have to retrace your steps back to the lock. From here to go back the same way to Canal Park. Here, instead of turning right along the original route, you turn left carry on alongside the canal to the set of locks that lead down to the seaport marina. When it was built the series of locks were demonstrated to Queen Victoria. Unfortunately to get from the bottom lock to the top lock takes a long time and she was famously ‘not amused’. From the bottom of the stairs of locks you can follow a path which takes you to South Kessock Pier where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth. There is usually a lot of bird life to watch on the sands. If you are lucky you might even see a seal. At Kessock Pier you just follow the river back into town. It is a great way to spend a few hours.
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