The Caledonian Canal is an impressive feat of early 19th-century engineering, linking Inverness in the east and Corpach near Fort William in the west.
It runs for about 60 miles (97km) and was completed in 1822 having been masterminded by Thomas Telford, the man responsible for the Menai Suspension Bridge in Wales.
The Caledonian Canal allowed sailing ships from the north east of Scotland to avoid the risky route around Cape Wrath and the Pentland Firth.
The building of the canal also played an important part in advancing employment in the area after the Highland Clearances. The region’s reputation as a tourist destination received a further boost in 1873 when the canal’s most famous tourist, Queen Victoria, travelled along the waterway and disembarked at Dochgarroch.
During her sail, Her Majesty commented on “how rude” the local people were for watching her as she enjoyed tea on the Gondolier!
Nowadays, the Caledonian Canal enjoys scheduled monument status, which means it is of national importance and protected from unauthorised change.
Although it’s comprised of 29 locks, four aqueducts, and 10 bridges, only one third of the Caledonian Canal is man-made, with Loch Ness, Loch Dochfour, Loch Lochy and Loch Oich making up the rest of this extraordinary waterway.
All four of these lochs are located in the Great Glen, a string of glens running for approximately 62 miles (100km), from the edge of the Moray Firth at Inverness to the head of Loch Linnhe at Fort William.
Queen Victoria – a famous “tourist”
Historically, the Great Glen played a pivotal role in Government efforts to control the Jacobite uprisings of the 18th century, with its strategic importance leading to the establishment of towns such as Fort William in the south and Fort George to the north of Inverness.
The Caledonian Canal now attracts in excess of 1000 yachts and cruises, 2500 paddlers and 700,000 visitors every year - that’s more than the entire Highland population!
Dochgarroch Lock on the Caledonian Canal is a popular departure point for a Loch Ness by Jacobite cruise and the location of our HQ.
For more information on how to get to all of our departure points, visit our How to Find Us page. You can also get in touch with a member of the Loch Ness by Jacobite team - we’d be delighted to help.
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