A 5 day canoe and wild camping adventure through the lochs and canals of Scotland from Fort William on the west coast to Inverness on the East coast.
You’ll paddle under the helpful eye of a local guide and you will wild camp along the way. You’ll get the opportunity to learn new canoe skills or consolidate what you already know. With stunning scenery, campfire cooking, myths and legends and lots of fresh Highland air, this is a very special adventure.
Minimum age 13. Maximum capacity is 8 people in shared double Canadian open- topped canoes.
Day 1 – Fort William to Gairlochy (10km)
We will meet in car park of The Premier Inn, Inverness West 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. 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 look around the 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 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.
Please find our full kit list here.
Book direct via this site and then complete this pre expedition questionnaire here and e-mail to us at email@example.com.
Premier Inn West
Inverness , IV35TD
On Day 1 we meet in Inverness rather than Fort William. This is partly due to its better transport links, but it also means there is no need for another long drive back to Fort William from the finish point in Inverness, on the final day.
The exact start location is the Premier Inn, Inverness West, at 9am on the first day and then you will be driven to Fort William to start your adventure (approx 2 hour drive). At the end of the week you will then be dropped off back into Inverness town centre after unpacking the canoes and sorting out your kit. Usually by 2pm but exact timings vary.
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