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Old 10 December 2017, 09:54   #1
Country: UK - England
Town: Christchurch
Boat name: Hurricane
Make: BRIG Navigator A610
Length: 6m +
Engine: Suzuki DF140
Join Date: Mar 2010
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Caledonian Canal and Lochs

We are thinking of trailering our 6m rib from the south coast up to Scotland and Mrs D likes the idea of going from Fort William/Banavie (top of the locks) to Inverness and back - although we would be happy to launch midway. Wherever's best. There is a certain attraction in going from a potter along the canal to a blast on the lochs and stopping at B&B's on the way. I guess we will need a licence for using the Caledonian Canal and assume this will cover passing through the lochs. But can't find out anything about actually boating on the lochs and if there are speed limits on them plus other than scanning Google Earth we are assuming overnight moorings are thin on the ground? Any local knowledge from you guys would be welcome. Thanks.

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Old 10 December 2017, 10:42   #2
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Country: UK - Scotland
Town: Denny
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Make: Coastline
Length: 6m +
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No speed limits on the lochs last time I was there and as far as I know still the same.
Accommodation in Scotland can be difficult at short notice now (became very busy last couple of years) so I'd try and have a plan and places booked. Plenty of mooring and stopping of places on the way through but for more info I'd try.

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Old 10 December 2017, 10:49   #3
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Country: UK - Isle of Man
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Went through a few years ago.
Fees-bloody expensive cost around £150+ but good/great service along the way. This was (I believe) a 2-day pass from Inverness and out the other end past Neptunes Staircase.
Limited to (if I remember right) 5ish knots on the canal sections but unlimited through the lochs. And don't try and cheat because the lock keepers are in contact with each other and know the minimum time to go through each section.
The whole way takes a MINIMUM of two days. This is because of the lock time-waiting.
You also have to have 2 x long ropes for tying up as the surge from the gate openings do move you somewhat.
We didn't actually NEED them as we were fortunate in tying alongside someone's boat instead.
Also, from memory, slip launch sites were few and far between. Didn't bother as we were sea-to-sea.

Info here:

"Ribbing-the most expensive way of travelling third class"
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Old 10 December 2017, 15:47   #4
Country: UK - England
Town: Christchurch
Boat name: Hurricane
Make: BRIG Navigator A610
Length: 6m +
Engine: Suzuki DF140
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 8
Thanks all - I'll start brushing up on your advice!
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Old 10 December 2017, 16:11   #5
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Country: UK - Scotland
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You need 30 meters of rope for the locks that is for bow and stern each and it is £187 pounds now for the passing you would be better to launch at Fort William and go to Inverness and back will let you have more time to enjoy both sides of the lochs up and down each side nice pubs on both sides
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Old 10 December 2017, 16:23   #6
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Originally Posted by Highland Haggis View Post
and it is £187 pounds now for the passing
In fairness, that's only £6.50 per lock!
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Old 10 December 2017, 16:33   #7
Country: UK - Scotland
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Boat name: charlie girl
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Most cost efective way to do Scottish canals is to take a 2 week explorer licence for Crinnan and caledonian £30 per meter so 300 for both canals for a 10meter boat depart and return from largs area or portavadie easy doable hops and a great way to see the west coast by boat and do both canals at the same time.
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Old 10 December 2017, 18:25   #8
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What they all said. Ken has an interesting suggestion there - and I'd certainly say going all that way to only do the Canal could be a bit frustrating. Personally I wouldn't go there and back on the canal either - I'd jump on the bus and get the car.
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Old 10 December 2017, 19:33   #9
Country: UK - Scotland
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Right, we do this regularly except we sleep on board. The canal is beautiful and we see no need to hurry through. We take an eight day pass which means we get a full week and exit on the eigth day. You can extend your stay by a few days if you wish by paying for the extra days at the end. The costs are based on the length of your vessel so look at the canal website for info. Your pass will also entitle you to a night's stay at the marina within the canal at Inverness, plus a Skippers' guide to the canal, 2 quid normally! Extra nights in the marina are very reasonably priced too. You can easily walk into Inverness town from the marina and shopping is close by. If you wish to exit the canal at Clachnaharry Sea Lock (Inverness), there is also Inverness marina just around the corner, just into the river before the Kessock bridge.

For us, the eight days is used one way but it is actually just eight days on the canal so you can use your time as you like.

There is a couple of slips but this limits you to the lochs because the lock-keepers keep a check on your progress so they will know if you slipped in without paying!

If you stay in BnB's, to some extent you're wasting the facilities because your pass gets you a key to the showers and toilet facilities along the way and they are available at almost every pontoon facility - you're kinda boat camping if you can stay on the boat but with good facilities. Wild camping is possible and there is a campsite at Fort Augustus and at Gairlochy.

BnB availability will depend on the season and where you choose to stop overnight because a fair section of the canal is remote so access to your chosen BnB may be a distance away. Phone signal for booking a taxi is variable and occasionally non existant.

Long ropes are essential in the locks and you are likely to have to pull your boat through at the lock ladders with multiple locks during busy times. Something to take care with...when you are pulling your boat through, you need to walk along the edge of the open lock gate and you may well be walking backwards at that time since you're dealing with passing the slight obstruction within the lock, at the end of the lock gate is a man sized space which you could easily fall through and down into the lock if not paying attention! Don't ask how I know this!

Ther is no speed limit on the lochs and there is also plenty of moorings along the way so no problem there.

Ask away if you need more info.
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Old 11 December 2017, 04:32   #10
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We found that carrying two 6' planks of hardwood with ropes at the ends saved a lot of scuff wear from the lock sides ,just dangle over the sides and keep an eye on them

It looks massive on the trailer,but tiny in a big sea!
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