/ Has Anyone Canoed The Caledonian Canal?

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alancash100 - on 10 Dec 2012
Anyone done it? What's it like? Doable? How long?


Little Brew - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to alancash100: I know a few Scout friends who have, taken about 5-7 days depending on weather/days travel. also need to think about how you will get to and from the start/end.
Joe G - on 10 Dec 2012
Joe G - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to alancash100:
I should maybe add that since the "Great Glen Canoe Trail" has been established it's much less of a hassle to get canoes in and out, avoid locks, and there are lots of facilities like campsites, toilets and showers. Plenty info online and also a book.
Edradour - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to alancash100:

I've done it. Takes about 4 days depending on how much you want to thrash yourself. Fort William to Inverness takes advantage of the prevailing winds in summer and is therefore pretty easy. It's not a hard paddle, bit monotonous at times but rewarding enough.

You'll need a British waterways key to get in and out of the canal. These are about 20 and we got ours from Nevis sports I think.

PM me if you want more info.
marsbar - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to alancash100: Did most of it in sea kayaks, enjoyed it a lot, you might want a midge hat in the summer for the evenings. Used the bus for a shuttle and parked at the Inverness end in what used to be British Waterways (think its changed now). Nice mix of quiet places and pubs on the route and a few shops.
nedmoran on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to alancash100: I was planning on doing it in september just gone, but was put off after being told to expect 2m waves toward the end of loch ness.
ScraggyGoat on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to nedmoran:

It is possible to get 2m waves, but using the same approach to paddling conditions as to winter conditions predicting/avalanche risk i.e watch the weather in advance to get a feel for the preceeding & residual conditions, check the forecast on the day (and how wind strength and direction may vary during the day), and use the good old eye balls when you get there. For the great glen you have no tides to factor in, or residual swell, and preceeding conditions will die off quickly.

Ideally, unless experienced, you'd like a gentle tail wind (< 10 mph). After that decide what conditions you would be able to get back in your boat if you came out, both unaided and aided, the length of time it would take and think about how cold the water is. Near and above these conditions becomes.....pub time, assuming you're not going to get back on the water pie-eyed.
Mal Grey - on 11 Dec 2012
In reply to alancash100:

Very doable, good facilities, but you need to be aware that Lochs Ness and Lochy can be very dangerous in windy conditions. There's a reason why Ness is the only inland water with RNLI coverage....

Ask on www.songofthepaddle.co.uk for more info.

alancash100 - on 12 Dec 2012
In reply to alancash100:


Thanks everyone for such positive comments - really appreciated. Suppose I should learn to canoe now...

Thanks again,

ScraggyGoat on 12 Dec 2012
In reply to Mal Grey:

There's a reason why Ness is the only inland water with RNLI coverage....

I don't think Loch Ness is more or less dangerous than any other large inland body of water e.g. Monar, Morar, Mullardoch, Ericht, Trieg, Awe ect. I suspect the reason it gets a RNLI station is not to do with any additional or special danger (Nessie aside!), but that it is a busy waterway, therefore more likely that incident(s) will occur, and cumulative potential loss of life sufficient to warrant RNLI coverage.

I wouldn't want to go for an unresolved swim in any inland body of water (or sea for that matter), but would rate survival chances screaming down a VHF (or mobile despite thier obvious limitations) and popping flares significantly higher due to reception, more water users and being overlooked on Loch Ness than Mullardoch, or Trieg for example, where you are very much more on your own.

You are right that a mix of small craft, strong winds, cold water and a long(ish) fetch can all combine to elevated risk, and propensity for an incident to occur.

CENSORED - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to alancash100: Taken groups of kids from School when I used to teach, bumping into some of them a couple of years after they left, they said it was the best thing they ever did at school.

Wild camping all the way.

Always did it before the end of May to reduce the number of wee beasties.
CENSORED - on 13 Dec 2012
PS Usually took 3.5 days.
Fat of the man - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to alancash100: I did it about 20 years ago in a heavy old fibreglass canadian canoe with a friend. The waves on Loch Ness were big enough to inundate us to the extent we couldn't bail out the water fast enough, and we started to sink! Thankfully we were quite close to the bank and managed to avoid disaster, but we aborted a few miles from the Inverness end of the loch. Very memorable and enjoyable trip with some great wild camps, even though the midges were fierce. It's not that arduous if you have the wind with you. I remember having to port the canoe quite a long way at Fort Augustus as we were not allowed in the locks.

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