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Over the winter the Fort Augustus canal locks have been having a make-over – an incredible sight to see.

Open again for Easter 2019

Caledonian Canal Craftmanship

Started in 1803, the Caledonian Canal project was budgeted at £474,531 plus £15,000 for land purchases.  A year later they were asked to estimate the cost of making the canal big enough to accommodate the 32-gun and 44-gun frigates of the Royal Navy.  With £20,000 allocated for preparatory works and £50,000 a year after that, the canal project was programmed to take 10 years.

The section of canal from Inverness to Loch Ness was opened in the summer of 1818.  This allowed the progress of the canal to move quicker as building materials could be brought up from Inverness to Fort Augustus more easily and cheaply.

Stretching from Fort William to Inverness, the Caledonian Canal is 60 miles long, with 29 locks.  22 miles of which are man-made to connect the natural lochs, of Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, the famous Loch Ness and Loch Dochfour. The canal is, even by today’s standards an amazing feat of engineering.

Unfortunately by the time the canal was completed many boats under sail (for which the canal was designed for) had been replaced by steam ships which were much better able to negotiate the west coast waters than their predecessors, so traffic through the canal never really paid for itself.

Queen Victoria took a trip along it in 1873, and the publicity surrounding the trip resulted in a large increase in people visiting the region and wanting to travel on the canal.  Even the arrival of the railways at Fort William, Fort Augustus and Inverness did little to harm the canal, as trains were scheduled to connect with steamboat services.

In the Summer, the canal is positively buzzing with vessels, many of them private pleasure boats from all over the world who come to make the voyage through the legendary lochs through which the canal passes.  The most famous section of water that forms part of the Caledonian Canal is Loch Ness.

So, if you happen to be having a boating holiday and enjoying the Scottish Highlands from the water – pop in to the hotel and enjoy a drink in our Waypoint Bar or a meal in our Brasserie – we look forward to welcoming you!


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Post by Caroline Gregory

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