Hot Chocolate...Transit the Caledonian Canal.
Trip Start Apr 23, 2012
3Trip End May 05, 2012
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We entered the first lock at 0830 in Corpach and paid our transit fee of £182. We were given a key and the Skippers guide to the Caledonian Canal. We had to return the key for the showers and toilets when we got to the last lock in Inverness.
There are 29 Locks on the Canal and 10 swing bridges all operated by trained staff.It is 62 miles long and the summit is 106 ft above sea level.
It didn’t take too long to get ourselves sorted and get through 2 lock’s, the Lock keeper phoned ahead to Banavie swing bridge and said we would be along in 10 min.The bridge was open for us and we entered the first Loch on the Neptune Staircase.
There are 8 Locks here and the rise is 8 feet each time, it’s a very spectacular system and tourists are bussed there to watch the boats going through.We were well photographed by the tourists during the hour and a half we were going through.There was a great view of Ben Nevis from this point and Alcan had a big plant, a smelter run by hydro at the base of the mountain outside Fort William.It took an hour and a half to get through Neptune.
We were the only boat heading east.
By noon we exited Gairlochy just after a large ferry passed through.It didn’t’t have much space to spare and seemed to be scraping the sides of the Loch.Afterwards we heard that one of gates had come off the hinges and that part of the Canal would be closed for a week.We were lucky to get through so as I’m not sure what we would have done otherwise.Next we were into Loch Lochy which is about 5nm long which brought us to Loch Ceann and the Laggan Locks.The Great Glen Water park was just further on and would have been a nice place to visit if we had the time. Our Skipper visited it with his family the previous year while on holidays.Next was Loch Oich and then Cullochy which is the highest point in the canal.We had the grumpiest attendant here, he must have got out at the wrong side of the bed.From now on it was all downhill.Kytra was next and was operated by a female, our first so far and she awarded us 3 stars for getting to here.We arrived in Fort Augustus at 16.45 very pleased with ourselves.
Here we met a catamaran that was going through to Fort William and they were not pleased that there were problems ahead.This was a lovely stop, good pubs and good grub.The lads had a local traditional dish that was tasty, I stuck with fish and chips.We also did a bit of shopping for the next leg.Afterwards the lads went to the local hotel where there was Wi-Fi and I took a ramble around town meeting up with them afterwards.This area seemed to be a great walking and hiking area and was full of small B&B’s.The toilet and shower facilities on route were great and they included washing machines and tumble dryers also.I’m afraid I still had my 6 layers and they were staying on.
Sat 28th April.
We had an early start 0600 and departed in to Loch Ness in thick fog.We had a choice to leave an hour earlier and visit Urquhart if we wanted to but opted to stay in the sack and sacrifice the visit this time.It was a blanket of fog that we motored through for an hour and just seemed to hang over that part of the lake.The castle at Urquhart looked impressive in the distance as we passed but we have castle ruins equally as good here in Ireland.In fact I can see the turrets of Dromore Castle from my sitting room in Carheeny.
Loch Ness is around 11nm in length and we arrived into Dochgarroch lock at 0930.The scenery here was different and there were lots of boats around, some for sale as well.At works Lock we noticed the main halyard was worn in a few places so we replaced it with a spinnaker halyard.We topped up with diesel at Seaport Marina and bought a few extra drums just in case it was needed.
We went for some grub and a few pints of local brew and at 1600 left Inverness in the company of the Catmaran,they decided to head north around the top of Scotland and Cape Wrath.They asked us if we had any charts of Northern Scotland which we hadn’t.They were not pleased to be going around the top as the forecast was not great.