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“Caley Cruisers _ Highland Monarch”
Review of Caledonian Canal

Caledonian Canal
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Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness Sightseeing Cruise including Urquhart Castle
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Cruise the Caledonian Canal, Sail Loch Ness and View Urquhart Castle
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The Complete Loch Ness Experience Day Tour from Inverness
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Polmont, Scotland
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
“Caley Cruisers _ Highland Monarch”
Reviewed 20 June 2014

Cruised on the Caledonian Canal for 4 days from 16th June 2014. Tried to leave review against Company and boat, but maybe I am too thick to find them.

Wanted to express just what a fantastic holiday this was. We were a family of 7, six adults a three year old, and could not have wished for a better experience, as rookies on this type of holiday.

From the initial training we were shown how to operate the boat, and within an hour we were cruising on the canal by ourselves. The boat was excellent, and in first class condition. We had one small equipment malfunction, and the company were immediately available to talk us through a resolution, and would have come out to us immediately, had this been required.

The boat was large enough for our party, and not as cramped as I had envisaged. However there is only so much space that can be available, so take only what you need by way of luggage.

We were blessed with fantastic weather, so not able to comment on what would happen if this was not the case, but with the outstanding scenery, and the adventure of piloting your own craft, this was an ideal holiday for a family looking for a relaxing way of seeing one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

The people who man the lock gates are very friendly and helpful, even to those beginners like us.

All in all, I would recommend this type of holiday to any active types. We also went for walks at some of the various stops along the way, the falls at Foyers being a favourite.

Visited June 2014
1 Thank hevdave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Kendal, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
47 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“Cruising the Caledonian Canal with West Highland Sailing”
Reviewed 13 June 2014

West Highland Sailing (WHS) hire out a variety of boats from their base at Laggan Locks - roughly half way down the amazing Caledonian Canal. This navigable waterway runs from Inverness in the north east of Scotland to Fort William on the west coast, and consists of a number of lochs (including the famous Loch Ness) joined together by stretches of man made canal. This incredible feat of engineering runs through the heart of the Scottish Highlands, and is still in use today by commercial traffic as well as pleasure craft.

We hired one of WHS's smaller boats - a Cygnet. This is advertised as 'sleeps up to four', which in reality means it was ideal for the two of us (note: always choose a boat bigger than the advertised size, or you will be horribly cramped). The kitchen was tiny but functional, with a gas cooker (4 rings+grill/oven), sink, and small fridge with ice box. The shower/bathroom/toilet was tiny, and was usable only as a toilet. Fortunately, most of the moorings had shower/toilet blocks (free of charge - WHS lend you a key). The beds were comfortable but taller folks would need to curl up :-) Note: water is heated by the engine, and if you have been moored for a few hours you won't have hot water.

We had no previous boating experience at all, and a WHS instructor gave us a whistle stop tour of driving the boat and escorted us through the first lock, then left us to get on with it. Driving the boat was straightforward, but navigating locks and mooring was pretty terrifying at first. Tip: it's a lot harder with only two people - if you have three, one can steer while the other two do the rope work. The lock keepers were absolute stars, endlessly patient and unflappable when faced with complete idiots in boats. The one exception we met early on must have been having a bad day, but dealt a blow to our confidence which took some rebuilding. Note: you don't pay (or tip!) the lock keepers.

The canal sections require continuous concentration, and the appearance of a big cruise ship or an ocean-going trawler coming round a bend towards your little craft can be unnerving. The loch sections - to be honest - can be a bit boring, with not many safe mooring places en route, although the scenery is impressive. And forget visions of mirror like lakes - with a wind blowing, Loch Ness can feel more like the open seas, with choppy waters rattling the crockery and cutlery in the galley, sending you running to secure your possessions.

Not to be missed are the locks at Fort Augustus, where you literally haul the boat by hand between each section of lock. It's not as bad as it sounds - it needs a good strong pull to get the boat moving, but once it's moving it's not too bad. We had the Cygnet for a week, and went from Laggan Locks to Inverness, then back down to Banavie (Fort William), and back up to Laggan Locks fairly comfortably. Don't try and do too much - you can easily be held up at any lock for a couple of hours - commercial vessels always get priority, and the lock keepers' lunch break from 12 noon - 1pm is inviolable! The locks also shut down at 6pm until 8am (in summer), which can leave you 'trapped' for the night in one section. We managed to get moored where we wanted every night, but we did wonder whether there would be enough capacity in high season.

There are a number of companies hiring out boats - WHS is at the cheap and cheerful end of the market, with Caledonian Cruisers (Caley) in Inverness at the posh end, with prices to match. We had no complaints about our Cygnet, except the water tank hadn't been filled up when we collected it. Other WHS hirers we spoke to had more serious complaints (sewage tanks not being pumped out, mechanical problems, etc.). So, if money isn't a problem and you want boats with more luxurious interiors, more intensive tuition, and a more guaranteed experience, you might be better off with Caley. But for the rest of us, there's WHS.

Visited June 2014
6 Thank jpmcc_ta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 5 Contributor
79 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“Amazing engineering”
Reviewed 18 April 2014

Visited Fort Augustus recently on a whistlestop tor of Loch Ness. Fort Augustus was a picturesque village with incredible views over the mountains and the Loch itself. We were fascinated to see the loch gates in operation allowing boats of various sizes to move along the canal. The car park was pay and display although this was not operational until the end of May which was a nice surprise. On a really good day, the whole place would have been even more spectacular but still worth a visit.

Visited April 2014
1 Thank WiganAlison
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lewes, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
307 reviews
86 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 272 helpful votes
“A pleasant walk”
Reviewed 1 March 2014

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.

Visited September 2013
Thank Peter C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Launceston, Australia
Level 6 Contributor
552 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 161 helpful votes
“7nights' cruise was magnificent and we'll do it again”
Reviewed 30 December 2013

54-pax in total made this a very special cruise, with the ship an ideal size for such a journey. The scenery is magnificent, while the staff on board were amazing. We plan on re-doing this cruise but next time will book far enough in advance so we can be sure to get the only and only cabin with a double bed.

Visited June 2013
2 Thank Ranipuss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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