Jun 06, 2019 - Lord of the Glens
Tidal considerations necessitated an early departure from Oban this morning as we had to arrive at Corpach where the Atlantic sea lock of the Caledonian Canal is situated at the top of the tide. The Caledonian Canal was engineered in the opening decade of the 19th century by the great Scottish engineer Thomas Telford. It was a government-funded project at the time of the French Revolutionary Wars, designed to enable the more rapid exchange of naval vessels from the North Sea to the Atlantic. By the time the canal was completed, the wars had ended and the age of sail had been replaced by the age of steam. The larger steam-powered vessels were unable to navigate the canal and its commercial future looked unviable. Today, the bulk of the traffic on the canal is recreational and our ship, Lord of the Glens, is the largest vessel plying its tranquil waters. The canal runs through the Great Glen, a route from the earliest times, and links a sequence of freshwater lochs, including Loch Ness—the largest body of fresh water in Britain.
Corpach is nestled beneath Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, a dramatic mountain with snow still glistening on its peak as we approach midsummer. A number of graded walks were offered from Corpach, including a section of mountain trail at Glenfinnan, famous as the place where Bonnie Prince Charlie set foot on mainland Scotland for the first time and raised his standard to start the ill-fated Jacobite rebellion of 1745. It is now mainly visited for views of the railway viaduct made famous in the Harry Potter films for the Hogwarts Express sequences. A gentler nature trail that negotiated wetlands and native forest was also enjoyed as was a walk along both sides of the Caledonian Canal to view Neptune’s Staircase, a spectacular sequence of eight locks that raise the canal to more than 60 feet within less than two miles of sea level. A sizable group opted for a kayaking adventure in Loch Eil, a sea loch that runs west of Corpach.
It was an active day and good appetites were satisfied with a lunch of fresh mussels obtained the day before at Inverlussa on the Isle of Mull and a dinner of local game casserole.
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