Loch Linnhe, the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness : Cruise Highlights

Read the cruise report from Wildlife Guide Will Smith on our Oban - Inverness cruise this September

Night 1 anchorage: Corpach sea lock

Emma Jane and guests set off from Oban to a stunning afternoon of blue skies and sunshine, cruising up Loch Linnhe. Just after passing Castle Stalker, we were treated to an incredibly close flyby of a juvenile white-tailed eagle, passing right overhead us whilst we were all out on deck.

Night 2 anchorage: Gairlochy

There was an amazing intense sunrise to start the day, before weighing anchor to pass through Corpach sea lock, our first lock of the canal system. After a short steam, we entered Neptune’s Staircase - a series of eight consecutive locks which take around two hours to pass through, by which point we had gained 20 metrs of elevation. As we waited to travel through the swing bridges, we enjoyed a perfectly-timed passing of the famous Jacobite steam train making its way over the railway bridge in front of us.

Night 3 anchorage: Castle Bay

After a short steam to Bunarkaig on the northern shore of Loch Lochy, we enjoyed a pleasant walk along a stretch of the Great Glen Way up to the scenic Eas Chia-aig waterfall, which made a perfect spot to have lunch. Some of the guests visited the Clan Cameron museum, to gain an insight into the Clan which has inhabited this area since the 14th Century. Back on board, we made our way through the remainder of Loch Lochy, and then through Laggan Locks, before entering the picturesque ‘Laggan Avenue’- a narrow stretch of canal with trees growing right up to the waters edge on either side. The canal was looking particularly special with the autumn colours of the leaves in the afternoon sunshine, and made a great opportunity to enjoy afternoon tea out on deck with some delicious Pastéis des Nata. The dramatic ruins of Invergarry castle on the shore of Loch Oich made for a superb anchorage, as we watched groups of red deer on the hillside behind us with a golden eagle soaring high above them. There were many roaring stags in the height of their rut - giving the evening a very atmospheric soundtrack.

Night 4 anchorage: Kytra

A stunning walk around the ruins of Invergarry Castle and along the River Garry. This is a pristine river with overhanging old beech trees in their full autumn colours, making a great opportunity to enjoy a riverside glass of Prosecco while out on the walk. We were treated to a sighting of an otter under the old humpback bridge over the river, as well as some interesting river- specialist birds including dipper and grey heron.

Night 5 anchorage: Fort Augustus

A fantastic walk from Fort Augustus, took us alongside the River Oich and through some prime Caledonian pine forest. Throughout the walk we had great views of two of the key species of these coniferous woodland: red squirrel and crested tits.  We also saw some interesting fungi, including fly agaric, shaggy inkcap and the uncommon amethyst deceiver.

Night 6 anchorage: Dochgarroch

What a fantastic day on Loch Ness for a cruise - the largest freshwater body in the British Isles. Emma Jane anchored for lunch off the magnificently situated Urquhart Castle, before going ashore to visit the site of more than 1,000 years of Scottish history. Further along Loch Ness on its southern shore, we took a short but steep hike through native woodland to reach the famous Falls of Foyers, or Eas na Smùide, meaning the “smoking falls”. The walk gave us another great opportunity to look for red squirrels which are abundant in this area.

Final day: Dochgarroch- Inverness

Although this was our final morning before departure at Muirtown Basin, there was time to enjoy the changing scenery as we cruised towards Inverness and the view from deck across the River Ness below us on the canal, and over towards the City itself. We had a surprising encounter with a large dog otter at our final lock gate, as he swam a few feet away from Emma Jane and hopped onto the swing beam of the gate. We even watched as he pulled an eel at least as long as himself onto the towpath and took it into the undergrowth!