Caledonian Canal

We're in Inverness Caledonian Canal driven, which connects the northeast coast of Scotland with the west coast. You only have an opportunity to sail through the Highlands with a sea-going sailing yacht. Built for cargo shipping, it is often used today by sailors who want to avoid circumnavigating the northern tip of Scotland. But you also pay a lot of money for it. In our case, the transit cost £ 273 (for an 8-day permit).

Way from Whitehills to Inverness

Most of the canal consists of natural lakes (lochs) that are connected by canal sections. If you want to know more, follow the link to Wikipedia that I put above. The most famous hole is Loch Ness - only real with the monster.

Our first stop in the canal was at the Seaport Marina in Inverness. There we refilled the diesel tank and recovered from the stress of the journey. I can only recommend every sailor to go into the canal as soon as possible. Last year we were first in the Inverness Marina and spent the first night there. That cost a heathen money. The first night at the Seaport Marina is included in the channel fees.

View of the Seaport marina

The storage in the Seaport Marina is also very easy, because the Coop is only 200 meters away. Last year we walked three quarters of an hour from Inverness Marina to Aldi and drove back in a taxi. Overall, it was an expensive purchase.

Directly after the marina there is a lock staircase with four locks. There you practice in channel locks. Then it goes on relaxed.

The canal operates from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in summer. This means that you can expect the first lock or bridge operation at some point at 8:30 a.m. and that the last lock will take place around 4:30 p.m. because the lock keeper wants to finish work on time.

The lock keeper at the sea lock (Clachnaharry Sea Lock) warmly recommended the pub in Clachnaharry. True to the motto "if you were not in the pub, you did not visit the place", we naturally took the advice to heart. And it was just as natural that the lock keeper greeted us and gave us a beer recommendation after entering the guest room.

Railway swing bridge in Clachnaharry

After passing through the sea lock, we first had to wait for the train because a railway line crosses the canal. On this picture you can see the swing bridge for the trains, on the right hand side is the bridge keeper's house.

Train on the swing bridge

On our way to the pub we had to cross the railroad on a bridge. The view from there was so good that my railroad photography genes made me stop. Okay, I admit that I checked the schedule beforehand. We only had to wait five minutes for the train.

Clachnaharry Inn

The five minute wait can be long if the pub is just around the corner. The picture of the Clachnaharry Inn was also taken from the bridge. After taking the train, the thirst was so great that we immediately went on to the pub.

Welcome to the Clachnaharry Inn

The beer afterwards was delicious. Jens had to send a few more messages before he finally got his glass on his beard. The beard needs a blade again, otherwise he drinks too much of the good beer.

Jens in the Beergarden

As we drank the beer, we heard the next train whistle before it came over the swing bridge. So we picked up the cameras again and the result is this:

Train in front of the Clachnaharry Inn

The other guests in the pub also turned around after the train. It's not like in Frankfurt, where trains are constantly running on the railway lines. Scotrail does not have a regular timetable, but it connects the most important places in Scotland. The passage of a train is certainly appreciated.

The next day we had the right wind to sail across Loch Ness. We were able to run our Parasailor and were treated by the crew of the Fairytale photographed. In the evening we lay side by side and were able to exchange pictures, because we too were able to shoot the fairytale.

Sissi with Parasailor on Loch Ness (Photo: sy-fairytale)

Fort Augustus
Our next stop on the Caledonian Canal was at Fort Augustus. The place is at the exit of Loch Ness, is completely overrun with tourists and there is a special feature, a lock staircase with five lock chambers. This is where Loch Ness “cruises” start and Japanese bus loads are dumped in the town. It is not easy for a sailor because you are part of the decoration.

Japanese on the pontoon for boats

The Japanese have no reason to come down on the pontoon, because the footpath to Loch Ness is above the stairs. However, dozens are coming down and fiddling with their smartphones. And they handle foreign ships. I am amazed that they are not climbing on the strange ships.

Japanese pose in front of Sissi

Nobody asked me for permission, they just handled Sissi like that. What would these people say if I touched their cars or even their house in Japan to pose for a photo. I don't think they would be happy about it. It's also no fun to be exposed to this terror while having your morning coffee.

Sailors are also a attraction and decoration in the lock staircase. It is filmed, photographed and stupid questions are asked: "Are you going up or down?" (The bow of all ships in the lock chamber was pointing up.) “What are the locks for? Can't you just drive up like that? ” (Not paying attention in physics class.) “Are you from Germany?” (German flag flies at the stern.) This time I showed it to people, I took photos back.

We also have cameras with us!

I find it less bad to be photographed "at work" in the lock chamber than at breakfast in the morning when I'm not really awake. Those who cannot stand the public should not go through the locks in Fort Augustus. Or only in extremely bad weather.

The next stop was in Laggan. There is little to write about the place, because it simply does not really exist. Laggan is primarily a lock that separates the canal from Loch Lochy. On the way from Fort Augustus to Laggan, we got stuck at the lock in Kytra for a while, because it temporarily closed due to the thunderstorm. So we only made it to Laggan by 5 p.m. But that's not too bad, because there isn't much in Laggan, but there is a pub. A floating pub. We got to know him last year and of course had to visit it again this year.

Eagle - the Inn on the water

An old Dutch cargo ship was put on the Caledonian Canal and converted into a pub. The machine is still fully functional and the owner thinks that it is started occasionally so that you can see if it is still working. Specialty are curries and there is also a hot chili that lives up to its name. If you are waiting for the next day in front of the lock anyway, a visit is actually a must.

True words. One of the better pub signs

The landlord has launched a challenge. Whoever eats his hot sauce and tolerates it well (exact conditions of participation depend on it) comes to the “Hall of flame” and does not have to pay for the food. There are not many who have done it.

Eagle from the inside

By the way, you are at the highest point of the canal, coming from Inverness, Laggan Lock is the first lock where you are sluiced down. The exit leads to Loch Lochy. The weather was a dream.

Loch Lochy

In addition to the fog and the occasional rain, the wind blew us in the face at 30 knots, some gusts even went up to 38 knots - wind force 7-8. This is because the hole is lined with high mountains, making it a perfect nozzle. The canoeists traveling in the opposite direction certainly appreciated this. It was easier for us, we did not get wet and while the autopilot was on course we could heat up some lasagna in the oven. Life on a sailboat is not that bad.

And when the wind blows so hard, the midgees cannot fly. So is the best weather I can imagine for a stay in Scotland.

The next stop was in Banavie. Here we stopped forcibly because a thunderstorm damaged the railway swing bridge below Neptune's staircase. It did not detract from our mood, after all we have time. After a delicious Scottish beef steak for dinner we went for a walk to the pub.

Railway swing bridge with Harry Potter steam train

On the way to the pub we passed the conscious swing bridge. I was able to quickly take a photo of the Jacobite Express, the Harry Potter steam train. There's always something about the channel, we got through comparatively well. Last year we had a power cut at the lock in Gairlochy, a cruise ship got stuck in a lock and a swing bridge could not open due to the heat. In this respect, lightning is a trifle.

The pub was in a good mood, as it should be on a Sunday evening. We started talking to several Scotsmen who come from the Outer Hebrides (Barra and Harris) and work on the mainland. One said that until 2002 no television was receivable in his parents' house and no telephone worked (neither landline nor mobile). It is so lonely in the outer Hebrides.

Locky mood

The following day the lock gate to Neptunes Staircase opened for the 8 o'clock lock at 7:50 a.m., we were the first in the lock chamber. Less than two hours later, the five sailing boats that were brought down together were in the last chamber and thus directly in front of a road and a railway bridge.

The lock gate opened and the road bridge began to ring and open. The railway bridge did not move an inch. I had a laughing fit. With the second attempt a quarter of an hour later it was different. Both bridges opened and we were able to free ourselves from the staircase.

Corpach. The end of the Caledonian Canal