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Family Canoeing in the Great Glen

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Location: Cairngorms and Central Highlands

Comfort: Wilderness Camping

Difficulty: 5

  • Canoe as a family through the spectacular Great Glen loch and river system
  • Journey in the company of experienced wilderness canoe guides and develop your paddling skills en route
  • Try to spot the Loch Ness Monster as you paddle down Loch Ness to our finishing point at Urquhart Castle!
  • A great canoe holiday for private family groups

On our Open Canoeing expeditions, we camp in spectacular locations near the waterway on which we have travelled.

While the leader will co-ordinate and undertake as much of the cooking as possible on the trip, everyone is expected to help out as this ensures the best meals in the shortest possible time after what are often long days in the mountains.

Fine food is essential to all our trips and expeditions are no different. Using Open Canoes, we are less constrained by weight and therefore have the opportunity to carry food which we would be unable to take on a walking expedition. The scope for imaginative and original meals is therefore enhanced and we will prepare these over our base-camp style dual burner stove and often over an open fire.

You will be met by your Wilderness Scotland guide in the waiting room at Fort William Train Station at 10:00 on Day 1. For full details on how to get to Fort William, please see our website: Travel to Scotland.

Trip Details

This canoe holiday provides families with an opportunity to experience a canoe journey using most of the Caledonian Canal, linking together a series of Scottish lochs including the great Loch Ness.

The trip starts just outside Fort William on easy, sheltered water and gradually makes its way north east, perhaps with an ultimate goal of finishing near the enchanting Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness.

The overall pace of the trip will be tailored to the abilities of the families and there will be plenty of time available to explore the locks and villages we pass through. Throughout the expedition coaching will be given to help each member of your family develop their paddling skills, and we may also enjoy sailing rafted canoes if we have the right wind conditions!

Some of these dates link in perfectly with another family group adventure, sea kayaking on the West Coast. For details of that trip, click here. We also offer a number of trips designed for individual familes, which you can read about on our family holidays page.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1 – Canoeing in the Great Glen: Loch Lochy
Our canoe journey begins above Neptune’s Staircase on the Caledonian Canal, a gentle introduction as we make our way to Gairlochy, and the first of several lock gates, at the end of Loch Lochy. A canoe trip up the Great Glen with its large areas of open water is dictated by wind conditions, but we plan to get about three quarters of the way up Loch Lochy today, camping on the north side in the shelter of trees.

Day 2 – Canoeing in the Great Glen: Loch Lochy to Loch Oich

Today’s section has the variety of the open water of Loch Lochy and a beautiful tree-lined section of canal, before we reach Loch Oich, much the smallest of the Great Glen’s lochs. Sometimes we can tow our canoes through the locks, while at other times we will need to portage – this is all part of the open canoe journey! Our campsite tonight is on the grassy shore of Loch Oich.

Day 3 – Canoeing in the Great Glen: Loch Oich to Loch Ness

Very occasionally the level of the River Oich is perfect for paddling, but normally we are back on the canal for the few miles up to Fort Augustus. Here we have the longest portage of the trip, round a series of six locks, but our efforts are rewarded as we canoe out onto the mighty Loch Ness. If the wind and the group’s energy allow, we will continue up the loch to camp in the woodland below Invermoriston.

Day 4 – Canoeing in Loch Ness

Loch Ness is awesome in any weather conditions, so as we continue our canoe journey we may be sailing with a following wind or watching reflections of the steep mountains in mirror calm water. Urquhart Castle guards the bay into which may be our ultimate paddling destination before travelling back to Fort William and the end of the trip.

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Trip Photos

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