Scotland 2017 - Day 17

Caledonian Canal Cruising - Invergarry Castle to Fort Augustus and on to Loch Ness and Urquhart Bay


After a quiet night in the isolation of Invergarry Castle (apart from the three other small boats moored alongside us) we woke to the sound of the deer on the hills on the other side of the loch. We could not see them this morning, but we saw several herds the night before. From Invergarry Castle we motored the short distance to the end of Loch Oich and through the Abercalder Swing Bridge. A little further along the canal we passed through Cullochy and Kytra Locks and on to Fort Augustus. After descending the flight of five locks, we moored, had lunch and then continued on Loch Ness to Urquhart Bay for the night, arriving around 1650.

Loch Oich to Fort Augustus

While having our breakfast we were amused that at about 0830 two men kitted out in lifebelts, jackets and tool kits arrived at the pontoon. They spoke to the couple in the "Le Boat" cruiser next to ours (Le Boat is the competitor of Caley Cruisers), went on board and started the engine. These guys knew what they were doing. They expertly reversed the cruiser out of the pontoon (in contrast to when the cruiser arrived...) and headed off down the loch. An hour later they were back, hopped of and walked back to their vehicle. Later in the morning we came across the purpose of their voyage.

From Loch Oich northwards the canal is all downhill (well the water is level but the locks all descend). This makes the boat handing much easier, as the water gently drops in the lock chamber rather than the turbulent entry when the levels are rising. We passed through Cullochy Lock and Kytra Lock. The lock keeper at Kytra remembered me (especially as I had hit her in the face when throwing up the mooring rope...) but she was pleasant enough to ask if we had enjoyed ourselves. We arrived at the top of the Fort Augustus locks at 1120, just in time for the 1130 locking. We followed another Caley Cruiser into the first lock and down we went. At Fort Augustus we had to haul the boats by hand from one lock to the next. After a good tug on the rope the boat floats easily forward. It took an hour to negotiate the five locks, so we moored, threw our washing in the canal laundry facility and went off for some lunch. We returned to the boat at 1430, laundry in hand and ready to search Loch Ness for monsters.

Loch Oich in the early morning light.
Small bridge on the A82.
Loch Oich is quite shallow in parts. You need to follow the red/green buoys carefully.
If you don't....
You end up on a sandbank.
Abercalder Swing Bridge.
Following the canal to Fort Augustus.
Here we are, moored at the bottom of the Fort Augustus locks.
Looking back up the flight of locks we had just descended.

Loch Ness - No monsters today

We motored out onto Loch Ness and were pleasantly surprised at how calm the loch was. A few days earlier we had ploughed into rough seas to get from Urquhart Bay to Fort Augustus. This time we could concentrate on the scenery. We set a course close to the eastern side of the loch to get a closer view of the rock outcrops and the autumn colours in the trees. After about an hour I scanned the horizon with binoculars, up and down the lake, and could not see another boat on Loch Ness. It took us just over 2 hours, travelling at 12km/h to reach Urquhart Castle. This time the weather was kinder and we were able to take better photos.

Looking back up the Oich River.
Out onto Loch Ness,looking back at the hidden entrance to the canal.
Sun on the highland beside the loch.
The Horseshoe Landslide.
Sunset over the harbour
A like-minded local.
Foyers Power Station - once an aluminium smelter
Back to Urquhart Castle.


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Last updated: 08/02/2018