Happy arrival and departure – fit for a Queen

Jacobite Thistle

A Happy Arrival and a Happy Departure … these were the words on an archway that welcomed Queen Victoria as she boarded “The Gondolier”, at Banavie, on her journey to Inverness.

It was in 1873 that the much-loved monarch became this area’s most esteemed tourist, travelling along the Caledonian Canal before disembarking at Dochgarroch.

Now, we can offer you a similar happy arrival and departure at the same point … due to Dochgarroch being the location of our head office and the best place to board one of our tours down the Caledonian Canal and out into the splendour of Loch Ness.

And don’t worry if you find the name to be something of a tongue twister, just like the famous Drumnadrochit which is also on the loch. You’ll soon become familiar with “DOCH-GAR-OCH” and the locals will know what you mean, in any case.

You can see the location on our map and find driving directions here.

Of course, Queen Victoria needed no such guidance on her way to stay at Inverlochy Castle, accompanied by Princess Beatrice, Lady Churchill and a full entourage.

The Gondolier boat

The Gondolier which carried Queen Victoria.

The newspaper of the day, the Inverness Advertiser, recorded the Queen’s arrival as follows:

“The landing at Dochgarroch was the occasion of one of the happiest demonstrations, and the beauty and harmony of the decorations, coupled with the loudly expressed loyalty of the spectators, all dressed in holiday attire, seemed particularly to gratify Her Majesty. At Inverness the decorations were on an extensive scale and the whole town turned out to welcome their Sovereign.”

We’d be delighted to welcome you at Dochgarroch, the last lock on the Caledonian Canal which was masterminded by Thomas Telford and built by hundreds of crofters and navvies in 1822.

Our tours depart from the western side and take you on a magical trip. You will enjoy the views and tranquillity of the Great Glen as you sail along the Caledonian Canal, before making a spectacular entrance onto Loch Ness, experiencing its scale, sense of heritage and history, including the magnificent Urquhart Castle.

And, when you’re not trying to spot the Loch Ness Monster, you can keep a look out for jumping wild Atlantic salmon or, in the skies above, the Highlands’ most magnificent bird of prey, the osprey.

Some of our local wildlife is easier to identify. For example, back at Dochgarroch, you can say hello to our three Highland Cattle, called Chloe, Eilidh and Jack.

HIghland Cow

Eilidh likes to pose!

These “Heilan’ coos” are proving very popular with our passengers and all three are very obliging when it comes to pictures, too! And you can take away some more memories of Loch Ness from the selection of quality goods we have available in our Dochgarroch Lock shop.

Also, our large car park hosts a new central figure … a tall silver thistle to mark the prestigious Caledonian McBrayne Silver Thistle Award won by our MD Freda Newton MBE for outstanding contribution to Scottish Tourism.

Dochgarroch Lock shopping

Quality goods in the Dochgarroch Lock shop

The thistle has been the national emblem of Scotland since the reign of Alexander (1249-1286). According to legend, an invading Norse army was attempting to sneak up on a Scottish army’s encampment. But one of the barefoot Norsemen stood on a thistle and let out an almighty scream which alerted the Scots of the impending attack!

We can’t testify to the truth of that story. But we can give you the same promise offered to Queen Victoria … a Happy Arrival and a Happy Departure.

And we look forward to seeing you at Dochgarroch. Yes, that’s “DOCH-GAR-OCH” to you and us!