Great Glen Canoe Trail Expedition (5 days)
- Duration: 5 Days (approx.)
- Product code: GGCE
A wonderful expedition by canoe from Fort William in the West to Inverness in the East.As a local company, the Great Glen is right on our doorstep, so we know it like the back of our hands! You'll travel under the watchful eye of a local guide and will camp along the way. You'll get the opportunity to learn new canoe skills or consolidate what you already know. With stunning scenery, myths and legends and lots of fresh Highland air, this is an expedition not to be missed.
We normally start and finish the holiday from Inverness railway station. Clients can be collected from Inverness airport at no extra charge or can join the group in Fort William if this is more convenient.
Please us on +44 (0)333 600 6008 for advice on the easiest way to reach Inverness from where you live, or visit the 'getting here' section of our web site.
Minimum age 13. Minimum number of people required for this trip to run is 4. Individual paddlers are welcome to travel by kayak rather than canoe if they prefer.
Day 1 - Fort William to Gairlochy (10km)
We will meet in car park of the Tesco Metro on Tomnahurich Street, Inverness at 9.00am, before transferring by minibus across the country to Fort William (2 hours). First stop down there will be a visit to a supermarket to source fresh supplies locally and a short time to look around Fort William and buy some lunch. Back in the minibus for 5 minutes as we drive out of Fort William and round to Banavie, the start point of our expedition. With help from your guide, we’ll carefully pack the canoes and have a practice paddle in the canal basin. Once everyone is happy with steering a fully laden canoe we will paddle around 10km towards Gairlochy to find a remote campsite to enjoy our first night well away from the bustle of Fort William.
Day 2 - Gairlochy to Loch Oich (25km)
Much of the day is spent paddling the length of Loch Lochy (who came up with that name!). Hopefully the prevailing south-westerly wind is blowing and we can rig an improvised sail to speed us along. At the head of the loch we pass through Laggan Locks then paddle a two mile section of canal which takes us into the magical Loch Oich. Here we will change down a gear towards the end of the day and take our time exploring the lovely wooded bays of the loch while we look for a private and wild camping spot.
Day 3 - Loch Oich to Alltsigh (24km)
As we leave Loch Oich we are in for a treat. The River Oich runs side by side with the canal from here along to Fort Augustus, so we make the most of having a current to help us along for a while. Watch out for the interesting little grade 2 rapid, though! A decent lunch stop in the lovely little tourist-friendly village of Fort Augustus will give you the chance to visit a few shops for the first time on the trip and also to visit the Caledonian Canal Museum (a must see). On leaving the village we face the daunting prospect of tackling the 36km of Loch Ness. A monster loch in more ways than one. A third of the way up Loch Ness we will look for somewhere to camp for the night on the quiet Eastern shore and cook our dinner on the beach while Nessie spotting.
Day 4 - Alltsigh to Dores (22km)
A full day on Loch Ness today. It can get pretty tough going if there is a strong wind blowing – due to the sheer size of the loch it is possible (though rare) to get up to 3ft waves forming. Good job you are in expert hands then! In normal conditions this is a lovely leisurely paddle and we may well have time to land at the dramatic Urqhuart Castle for photo opportunities, and a nosey round the excellent Historic Scotland visitor centre. In the evening we finally reach the head of the loch and find a campsite nearby. Looking back down the full length of Loch Ness, stunning sunsets are common, as are late nights in the Dores Inn to celebrate our last night together and the friendships made.
Day 5 - Dores to Inverness (10km)
The hustle and bustle of the city looms ever closer this morning as we leave Loch Ness behind, travel through the picturesque little Loch Dochfour, negotiate the last canal lock of the journey at Dochgarroch (lots of “ochs” in this part of the world), then paddle through rolling farmland and into Inverness, Capital of the Highlands. Our finishing point is at Tomnahurich swing bridge on the edge of the city sometime round about mid day. It usually takes a wee while to unpack the canoes and to sort out the kit. Once this is done, we will transport you in to the town centre train station where we will leave you with a big bag of smoky, sweaty clothes and an even bigger bag of awesome memories.
We have been asked what makes this trip special. Well, there are lots of things, but here are just a few:
- Awesome Highland scenery as we journey along a major geological fault line.
- The sense of achievement in crossing Scotland from coast to coast under your own steam.
- Experience up close the engineering marvel of Thomas Telford’s Caledonian Canal.
- The fantastic local knowledge of your guide.
- Paddle the length of Loch Ness and find out the truth about the monster!