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Open Canoeing – Great Glen Canoe Trail

Trip Highlights: Canoeing – The Great Glen Canoe Trail

  • Canoe from the west to the east coast through the spectacular Great Glen loch and river system – including some canoeing in Loch Ness
  • Journey in the company of experienced wilderness canoe guides and develop your paddling skills en route
  • Wild camping on the shores of some of Scotland’s finest lochs with superb wilderness cooking throughout
  • 4 nights wild camping on the banks of the lochs
  • All meals as stated in the itinerary (Meals included indicated as B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All transport, starting and finishing in Fort William (with the option to be dropped in Inverness on Day 5 if required)
  • The services of at least one experienced and knowledgeable canoe guide / driver throughout your trip.
  • All group equipment including tents, group safety equipment and cooking /eating equipment and utensils. Please note that sleeping bags are not included. However, sleeping bags and sleeping mats are available for hire.
  • All specialist open canoe equipment, including canoes and buoyancy aids.

Blue Graded Open Canoeing Holidays 4-6

The Great Glen Canoe Trail is still suitable for people with no previous experience. However, a reasonable level of fitness is required.

For the River Spey Descent and the Whisky Trail previous canoeing experience is required as we will experience some sections of more challenging rapids, a good level of general fitness is also required for these trips.

For all Blue Graded canoe trips you can expect up to 7 hours of paddling each day with plenty of breaks.

These trips generally involve being further away from civilisation with multi-day wild camping.

Before joining this trip, the questions you should be asking yourself are:

Do you have a reasonable level of fitness?
Are you happy camping under the stars for a few nights?

 

Accommodation

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

Our tents are single tents unless you are travelling with a partner or in a group and would like a tent to share. We also carry a base camp tent, which means that we can all gather together for dinner and a hot drink even if the weather is inclement.

Single tents are two-man sized and we use three-man tents for sharing.

Food
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

Customer Kudos

Every client receives a feedback survey when they return from their guided, self guided or tailor made holiday with us.

Once completed the review is published on our website just as soon as our database updates. The little touches and details are important to us and where issues are raised we make positive changes to our trips to improve your experience.

That's why we read each of our client's reviews and although we don't respond to all of them, if it's glowing feedback then we get the satisfaction of helping to make your holidays truly memorable.

5 star 49

4 star 5

3 star 1

2 star 0

1 star 0

by Guilford Robinson 27/05/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
Email inquiries from us were promptly answered. The request for a kayak paddle as a reserve paddle did not get to the guides and I did not have one for the trip.
Trip Comments
The wind was strong on the lochs. We did not make the intended goal to paddle the entire Glen Coe Way - Safety first. The guides were flexible and we had other excursions on the most windy days that were great. Unfortunately two couples out of four had to leave the trip for medical reasons leaving my wife and I and one other woman for the last two days of the trip - too bad.
Accommodation and Food
First time with Haggis in the wild! Plenty of food. I have often wondered if people think Americans are starving - so much food. The meals were varied and I liked that the menu was well ordered. No problems with food.
Your Guide
Mark and Grant did extraordinary well considering the medical evacuations of two couples of four. They never seemed in panic mode although the wind and waves were getting ahead of some of the guest's capabilities. They were reassuring and regarded safety above all. We curtailed a stretch of the Loch as the wind grew and waves built. Again, Mark and Grant were flexible and kept the group apprised of the conditions and the alternatives for the group.
The Bottom Line
Knowledgeable about the trip. Competent and cordial. Lots of fun too.

by Marisa Gunn 27/05/2017

4Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

4Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
Your documentation on your database is organised in such a way that you cannot download anything once the year end has passed. This is still a problem as I have to provide the insurance company with an original invoice ( as we had to curtail our holiday due to my husband falling ill with a serious illness). I have rung the office and left a message and have had no reply)

TEAM WILDERNESS RESPONSE:

Thanks for your feedback, we are aware of the issue of the documentation and are doing our best to resolve this but in the mean time we do ask everyone to download the documents we send and save them on your computer for future reference. Of course we are always happy to send them again, your message was left at the end of the week and unfortunately we’re closed for the weekend so the team didn’t have a chance to action it before the weekend. We have sent the relevant documentation across now.
Trip Comments
The guides Mark and Grant are more than excellent. The bit of the holiday we were able to have was well organised, all the re-arrangements were managed with good humour, calm and you felt you were in good hands at all times.
Accommodation and Food
I think the expedition tents are a bit small. When these come to be replaced the company should look at a wider selection of tents and see if there is a bigger two man tent
Your Guide
I can't praise them enough. They were enormously helpful when Steve was taken ill.

TEAM WILDERNESS RESPONSE:

I am really sorry that Steve became ill on the trip but glad the guides were really helpful. Hopefully he’s feeling better now.
The Bottom Line
Wonderful scenery, fabulous guides, a great experience.

by Susan Robinson 20/05/2017

4Pre-Trip Service

4Trip Comments

4Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

4The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
Conditions of water more challenging than expected no ones fault
Trip Comments
I would do the hotel stay one
Accommodation and Food
Your Guide
Guides were great and knowledgeable
The Bottom Line

by Richard Narey 20/05/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

4Trip Comments

4Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
Professional and friendly
Trip Comments
Good guides. Better weather!!
Accommodation and Food
Your Guide
Excellent!
The Bottom Line

by Elisa Carrus 19/09/2016

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
I liked that on the phone everyone was very helpful and we received plenty of reminders. I also liked that we had access to previous pictures, which helped to get an idea of what the trip would be like. I found the information I received was perfect, and didn't think I wasn't well equipped for the trip.
Trip Comments
Accommodation and Food
The food was great! I loved the lunch breaks with plenty of food and we were provided plenty of snacks to carry with us. I suppose we could have been told that we were going to be provided with a snack pack, as I had also brought some snacks for the trip which never got touched! I loved the dinners and the sense of community. Food was amazing and we were always well fed! The breakfast was also really good, and they always offered the option of choosing porridge or muesli/granola, in case someone did not want the cooked breakfast. Mark and Jason were fantastic and made us fresh coffee every morning!
Your Guide
Mark and Jason were fantastic. I felt they offered us great advice and fundamental pointers to learn how to canoe and also how to deal with windy situations. They were also very accommodating and discussed options with us, without making us feel like we had no choice. They were also very helpful whenever we had questions. They both created a great atmosphere and made us feel like we would like to do this again! I also loved that they shared their respect for the environment with us. I would certainly have them again as guides!
The Bottom Line
An excellent trip. I would highly recommend it! It is one of the best ways of seeing Scotland, and because of the varied conditions that this land has to offer, each trip is unique. So even if you know the Great Glen Way already, it is definitely worth it. A memorable experience that I will remember for many years to come.

by Pat Strachan 18/09/2016

4Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

4Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
Very good info... Only comment is that we were sent incorrect details of our tour guide. Threw us as we were expecting Mark French not Nigel.
Trip Comments
Every day was different-stunning scenery, excellent food and clear, regular updates on our journey.
Some of the party were more positive about the camping wilderness experience than others....but we all had a really memorable time with plenty of stories to tell.
Accommodation and Food
Food was excellent,-variety, delicious .....and plenty of it!
Varied standard of camping amenities mean that very good standards were very much appreciated. One lockman even brought flask of coffee to welcome us...an unexpected surprise
Your Guide
Very good indeed. Nigel kept us well informed, looked out for all party members and made some slight route modifications on request. He worked hard to make it a good trip and ensure we well looked after and very well fed!
The Bottom Line
A fabulous and unique experience with very special memories that I will treasure.......including the luxury of shower, toilet and bed at home!

by Natasha Christine 11/09/2016

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
All my queries were promptly answered with a welcoming feel
Trip Comments
Excellent trip despite not reaching the final goal of crossing the Loch Ness, nonetheless the days were then re-structured by our guides to ensure a good paddling experience every day and it we had no "dead" days. We paddled every day and although we did not get to cross Loch Ness due to high winds approaching, we still had a chance to paddle a bit of Loch Ness on the last day which gave us the opportunity to experience big open water in challenging conditions. Everyday the views were wonderful and everyone was always in such a good happy mood. I loved the wild camping and would welcome even wilder camping but I understand it will always be mixed group and some appreciate the more "civilised" compost toilets and the shower opportunities at some of the camping areas but even those were wonderful places (i.e Gairlochy, Laggan)
Accommodation and Food
100% happy with accommodation as one of the reasons I booked this trip over others was the wild camping every night. The tent was easy to set up and spacious. We always had great variety of healthy food and our guides always ensured no one had space to fill on their stomachs by always offering and asking if we wanted more. Loved the breakfasts with proper coffee and the teatime with cakes :) Every evening meal was a complete surprise how such a good full meal is achievable in the wild and the desserts were always an exciting wait by all of us. Personally I felt I was very well fed and had my favourite foods every day (fruit & salad). Having into account the food for the 5 days for all of our hungry group had to be carried from day one the feeding process was incredibly well achieved.
Your Guide
The Guides do make the trips!!! Mark and Jason ensured everyone's happiness was number 1 on the list. Their love for the outdoors could also be truly felt and did transfer around. I cannot commend enough how well a job they have done. Both worked extremely hard at camp time to ensure our bellies were full and happy at the end of the day.
The Bottom Line
I will definitely recommend to friends. Apart from not achieving the end goal due to weather changes, the 5 days were extremely wonderful paddling days with the most amazing views one can ever desire whilst paddling. The camaraderie amongst the group turned out quite well and I believe we all had a great time that will remain on our good memories bucket for a long time. The organisation was perfect, all worked out really well.

I will probably return for other trips with Wilderness Scotland but would really like to see a choice of wilderness walking holidays with wild camping as opposed to sleeping in a Hotel/B&B.

by Peter Casebow 11/09/2016

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
Trip Comments
Accommodation and Food
Your Guide
The Bottom Line

by Dominique Moreau 10/09/2016

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
Everybody was super friendly over e-mails and very helpful. Communication was quick!
Trip Comments
The food was very surprising! Not what I expected from a camping trip. The haggis was very tasty! (Maybe use real whisky for the sauce though!)
Accommodation and Food
The tent was nice and the food amazing! Maybe an easier to put together tent would be great for both when it has to be put up in the rain and for when you have beginners!
Your Guide
Craig was great! He helped us a lot with our paddling and overall was very nice.
The Bottom Line
Final verdict: Will do another trip when I'm in Scotland next.

by Paul Mason 23/08/2016

4Pre-Trip Service

4Trip Comments

4Accommodation and Food

4Your Guide

3The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
In hindsight pre trip information could be better especially as we like most people on trip are complete novices, IF we went on trip again would have a much better idea of what to take etc
Trip Comments
Really enjoyed the trip and whole experience but it could have been better if we had had continuous tuition each day as even by the last day we felt like we didn't have proper control of the canoe.
Accommodation and Food
Food was excellent and plenty of it, it certainly makes you enjoy a morning coffee so much more. What was poor was size and quality of tents, the twin and single person tents were far to small to keep luggage in and keep dry in poor weather and having to put inner tent up first in wet conditions is not much fun, BUT all said and done it certainly makes you appreciate a nice hot cup of tea/coffee : )

TEAM WILDERNESS RESPONSE:
There are pros and cons to the designs. In wet weather, tents where you construct the outer first are usually preferable. However, in warm weather, many people enjoy sleeping with just the inner tent up, which isn’t possible for tent designs where you put the outer up first. With regards to the size of the tents, we responded to client feedback over a couple of years and decided to offer single tents to travellers who booked on their own (previously, they would have shared with a client of the same sex). This gives single travellers more privacy, but potentially means that we are carrying more tents than before. That’s why the single tents are more compact - so we can fit them in. With regards to the twin person tents, I’m surprised to hear that you also found these to be small. As a general rule, when we have 2 clients sharing a tent, we provide a 3 man tent, which is more spacious. If that didn’t happen with you, I’m sorry but please do let me know so that I can see why that’s happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Your Guide
Guides were good, friendly, cooked good meals but felt let down by lack of tuition in canoe and not keeping us all together, some members of team were left to far behind.

TEAM WILDERNESS RESPONSE:
Our trips are holidays rather than courses, so the emphasis is on the journey rather than developing technical skills. That said, our guides should ensure that everyone has enough coaching to ensure that they are comfortable paddling in the conditions encountered. Our guides would typically go further than this and offer to provide some additional coaching at points through the day to those who are interested in developing their skills further. We'll follow up with your guides to make sure it happens next time.
The Bottom Line
Really glad we went on trip and a great experience to look back on, but would I do it again??

TEAM WILDERNESS RESPONSE:
It’s unfortunate that your trip coincided with probably the worst week of weather across the whole summer, so I’m glad you enjoyed the trip despite that! I hope that after sufficient reflection, you’ll decide that you are ready for another adventure in the wilderness. If you’re not sure about camping, we do also offer a wide range of trips based from small hotels, including our Scottish Classics canoe trip.

Prices and Departures

84 people viewed this trip in the last week

Book with confidence - we guaranteee our trips to run as soon as 2 people book.

2017 Trip Dates

Trip Date
Price
Availability
Trip Status
 
8th Jul - 12th Jul 2017
£745
Trip Full
5th Aug - 9th Aug 2017
£745
Trip Full
2nd Sep - 6th Sep 2017
£745
1 place(s) left

2018 Trip Dates

Trip Date
Price
Availability
Trip Status
 
9th May - 13th May 2018
£745
8 place(s) left
4th Jul - 8th Jul 2018
£745
8 place(s) left
1st Aug - 5th Aug 2018
£745
8 place(s) left
5th Sep - 9th Sep 2018
£745
8 place(s) left

Trip Details

The Great Glen Canoe Trail is a classic canoe journey from coast to coast through the spectacular loch and river system of the Great Glen, including canoeing in Loch Ness.

The adventure begins just outside Fort William on the easy, sheltered water of the Caledonian Canal. We then journey through a series of amazing lochs before finishing near Inverness on the other side of Scotland!

The journey includes some straightforward canal and loch paddling. Throughout the expedition, coaching will be given to help you develop your paddling skills, so by the end of the route, you will not only have enjoyed a unique journey, you will also be a more competent canoeist.

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. Here we will set up our first camp of the trip, enjoying views of Ben Nevis from our tents. (L, D)

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

Today we start on the open water of Loch Lochy, aiming to reach the end of this loch by the end of the day, or if conditions are favourable we may reach the waters of Loch Oich. Our campsite tonight is on the grassy shore of Laggan Locks. (B, L, D)

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

After crossing Loch Oich we are back on the canal today for the few miles up to Fort Augustus. We will need to portage every canal lock but this is all part of the journey! Our efforts are rewarded as by the end of the day we will now have reached  Loch Ness. (B, L, D)

Day 4 – Canoeing on Loch Ness: Fort Augustus to Urquhart Bay

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 we plan to paddle for our last night’s camp, or we may stop on the south shore depending on the conditions. (B, L, D)

Day 5 – Canoeing on Loch Ness: Urquhart Bay to River Ness

On our final day we set out onto Loch Ness for the last time, paddling until the end of the loch is in sight. This is the end point of a memorable canoe trip through the Great Glen where the River Ness snakes it’s way down to the sea. After sorting our kit, we are transferred back to Fort William for our journey’s end. (B, L)

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Prices and Departures

84 people viewed this trip in the last week

Book with confidence - we guaranteee our trips to run as soon as 2 people book.

2017 Trip Dates

Trip Date
Price
Availability
Trip Status
 
8th Jul - 12th Jul 2017
£745
Trip Full
5th Aug - 9th Aug 2017
£745
Trip Full
2nd Sep - 6th Sep 2017
£745
1 place(s) left

2018 Trip Dates

Trip Date
Price
Availability
Trip Status
 
9th May - 13th May 2018
£745
8 place(s) left
4th Jul - 8th Jul 2018
£745
8 place(s) left
1st Aug - 5th Aug 2018
£745
8 place(s) left
5th Sep - 9th Sep 2018
£745
8 place(s) left

Price from: £745

Next trip: 8th July

Duration: 4 night(s)

View prices & departures

Location: Multi-Location

Comfort: Wilderness Camping

Difficulty: 4

55 review(s)

Trip Photos

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Trip reviews

Customer Kudos
Knowledgeable about the trip. Competent and cordial. Lots of fun too.

Guilford Robinson
27/05/2017

5

Wonderful scenery, fabulous guides, a great experience.

Marisa Gunn
27/05/2017

5

Rated 4.9 out of 5 based on 55 review(s) of Open Canoeing – Great Glen Canoe Trail

5 star 49

4 star 5

3 star 1

2 star 0

1 star 0

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