The Caledonian Canal and Glenfinnan

Aug 22, 2018 - Lord of the Glens


Today some guests set off bright and early for a walk along the canal to Kytra Lock, where they caught up with the ship for some breakfast. Lord of the Glens reached the highest point of the Caledonian Canal—106 feet above sea level—at Loch Oich, a very beautiful spot. Hills in shades of green reflected in the water, and a nearby mountain, Ben Tee, was lit by the sun in a bit of theater for the soul.

History is never far in Scotland. The ruins of Invergarry Castle speak of battles fought with Cromwell’s troops and also of accommodations for Bonnie Prince Charlie before and after his campaign. A place called the Well of the Seven Heads marks where the murder of two brothers was avenged with the killing of the murderers—a father and his six sons. Charming!

We arrived at an amazing part of the canal—Laggan Avenue. When this section was created, they piled the spoil next to the waterway. This was stabilized with trees and has, over time, grown into a woodland. It was a very unusual experience, sailing on a cruise ship through a forest!

On Loch Lochy, Brenda Thorpe, our National Geographic photo instructor, gave a presentation on how to capture great pictures on an iPhone. Back on the man-made section of the canal, we passed Moy Bridge, the last hand-operated swing bridge along the route. This bridge was never modernized because there isn’t a lot of traffic. A farmer lives on one side of the canal and sometimes needs to check on his livestock on the other side—that’s it! During lunch, we descended Neptune’s Staircase, with eight locks in a row. The staircase was a masterpiece when the canal was built, and is raises and lower the water level by 64 feet over 500 yards.

Later in the afternoon we had the option of kayaking in Corpach or taking a short coach ride to Glenfinnan on Loch Shiel, a fresh water loch. There is now a monument on Loch Shiel’s shore commemorating the place where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard on August 19, 1745, and began his campaign to gain Britain’s throne. We explored the visitor center and loch shore, and some guests went on a hike to the Glenfinnan viaduct. The viaduct was constructed from concrete in 1901 as part of the West Highland Railway Line and is now famous because of the Harry Potter films.

Back on the ship, the gamekeeper from Glenfinnan Estate gave a talk on life in the Scottish Highlands. It was a lovely day of stunning scenery, history, nature, and, of course, delicious meals on board!

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About the Author

Konia Tack

Cultural Specialist

Konia fell in love with Scotland in 1983 when she first visited from Germany. Settling on Scotland's West Coast, Konia quickly immersed herself in the local culture, the remarkable natural settings, and the history of the Highlands.

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