United Kingdom

Canoe Expedition Across Scotland

8

Discover Scotland's wild landscapes, on this epic 5-day canoe trip passing Ben Nevis and Loch Ness.

Itinerary

Day 1: Banavie to Gairlochy

You will meet your guide at the top of Neptune's Staircase (set of lock gates) on the Caledonian Canal on the west coast of Scotland where you'll start your canoeing adventure.

The calm waters of the Caledonian Canal are the perfect way to warm up and get used to adventure ahead. Camp for the night at Gairlochy, overlooking the stunning Loch Lochy.

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Today you'll travel onto the open water of Loch Lochy, the 2nd largest loch of the trip. The highland backdrop of rolling hills will mesmerise you on the day's paddle. The campsite for the night is at Laggan Locks where the Eagle Barge awaits for a welcome refreshment.

Occasionally, if its very windy, our plans may have to change slightly but we will still strive to make sure you have an adventure.

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Today sees a great variety of canoeing. Firstly on the calm waters of the Caledonian Canal, then navigate your way to the peaceful Loch Oich where you can explore some of the wooded bays and secluded shores. You'll end the day with a portage around the canal locks at Fort Augustus. During the portage, you'll be gifted with the first glimpse of the majestic Loch Ness. Tonight's campsite gives the opportunity for a refreshing shower.

Occasionally, if its very windy, our plans may have to change slightly but we will still strive to make sure you have an adventure.

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Your first day on Loch Ness is spectacular. Framed by highland mountains this loch is steeped in myth, legend and history. Soak up the atmosphere before camping on the shores, enjoying dinner at your camping spot. Don't forget to keep a watchful eye out for Nessie.

Occasionally, if its very windy, our plans may have to change slightly but we will still strive to make sure you have an adventure.

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Your last day of expedition completes your journey across Scotland. You'll paddle down the remaining stretches of Loch Ness before shuttling back to Fort William or travelling on to Inverness.

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8 verified reviews

Rated 5.0
Caroline
Caroline

Traveled May 2022

What an incredible experience! We absolutely loved it and cannot speak highly enough about our guides Fred and Arran, who could not have been more helpful, friendly and professional. They made what would have been a good trip into a great one. The scenery was spectacular even when the weather was challenging. We had all the kit we needed and felt complete confidence in the decisions our guides made regarding weather conditions, which is part of any trip in Scotland. The choice of food was outstanding and those with dietary requirements (including my husband who is a veggie) were really well catered for. I would recommend this trip to anyone who fancies trying their hand at canoeing, and if you are lucky enough to have Fred or Arran along as your guides then you will not only be in safe hands, but will have loads of fun as well. This was a trip we will never forget, if I could give it 6 stars, I would!! Loved, loved, loved it!! :)

Melissa
Melissa

Traveled Apr 2022

Absolutely amazing! Best leaders ever! Very knowledgeable and kept us safe. Food and delivery of it in windy cold weather was amazing 👍 Both absolute asset to your team and would definitely recommend 🙌🏻

Aumir
Aumir

Traveled Apr 2022

End to end, our guides Will and Frency (Matt) from Beyond Adventure were true professionals. They kept the group safe and worked really hard to provide for us. Team effort from all involved, weather was hit and miss (that's nature for you!)...but other than that, our trip was fantastic (and exhausting 😀). Thanks to the guides who made it an expo worth repeating! Aumir.

Kim
Kim

Traveled Oct 2021

A great trip! It was wonderful to spend an active time in the outdoors in lovely company, beautiful scenery with friendly, enthusiastic and professional guides and an abundance of good food! The bad weather didn't dampen spirits but helped unite us and add to the experience. Overall - a real sense of accomplishment and general wellbeing boost! Many thanks.

Russell
Russell

Traveled Sep 2021

Absolutely awesome, our 2 guides Fred and Vicki were just the best. I would however like to see the trip advertised more accurately, due to adverse weather the 1st day plans had to change, this should be made more. Clear from Skyhook. All in all an excellent trip👌🏼

Anne
Anne

Traveled Sep 2021

First of all, Fred and Vicky were great leaders. Windy weather meant changes of plan on the first two days. Although this was disappointing, it was no one's fault and in fact it was good that Fred was firm enough to withstand enthusiasm for pressing on! Vicky's catering was very good. There was plenty of food, and it was tasty. On our two days paddling up Loch Ness, the weather got better and better. It's a beautiful trip and I'm glad I did it.

Jessica
Jessica

Traveled Jul 2021

Excellent trip with stunning views. Every stage is new and wonderful, an absolute voyage of discovery. Fell in love with Scotland. Given all the food is taken in the canoes it was fantastic quality and vegetarians well catered for. You do have to carry the boats and equipment everyday so be prepared to pitch in. The leaders were amazing , knowledgeable and so much fun. Top quality equipment and even in stormy weather my tent was cosy and dry.

Tony
Tony

Traveled Jun 2021

What a brilliant trip!!! The scenery was excellent and although tough at parts was extremely enjoyable. A must do trip for all. Gave me a true love of kayaking. Guides and food was great too. Can’t recommend this enough.

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FAQs

Included

  • Guides
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Specialist equipment (canoe, tent)
  • Pick up from Fort William train station at the start of the trip

Excluded

  • Appropriate clothing
  • Sleeping bags

You don't need any paddling experience to enjoy this adventure - the guides are great at making it enjoyable for all abilities.

You'll need a moderate level of fitness. The canoeing is up to 6 hours of paddling each day, with plenty of breaks along the way. 

To get around the many lock gates on the canal the whole team have to move the canoes and carry all the equiment. This is hard work but all part of the experience.

Water
Whilst doing adventurous activities, it's important to carry enough water and stay hydrated. We strongly recommend taking between two and three litres of water. Your guide can give you advice on where to get water each day. This is often likely to be from a fresh stream, so please bring purification tablets if you feel it necessary.

Food
The guides work hard to use great quality, local produce where possible to prepare fantastic meals for you. Here are some examples of what you can expect:

Breakfast: porridge, bacon, pancakes, bagels, fresh tea or coffee.

Lunch: Normally a buffet-style feast with fresh bread, wraps, oatcakes, cold meats and cheese.

Dinner: A freshly made, warm meal every evening. Risottos, spaghetti bolognese, haggis neeps and tatties followed by homemade cake!

Snacks: There will be plenty of snacks available every day to make sure you have all the energy you need!

Food on your trip is included as follows:

Day 1: Lunch, Dinner

Day 2 - 4: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Breakfast

If you have any food restrictions (vegetarian, vegan, gluten intolerance etc) please make us aware of this when completing your registration form, found on your Skyhook dashboard. The guides can cater for most people. 

The guides and clients use tandem canoes so you will share a canoe with one other person.

The guides on this trip believe that to give you a quality experience, you need to be comfortable. They work with a number of companies to ensure that the equipment available on the trips are not only fit for purpose but also the best quality.

You’ll be provided with:

  • Tents (shared)
  • Dry bags/Barrels
  • All Safety equipment**

You’ll need to bring:

  • Sleeping bag* (3 season is best)
  • Lunch box (to keep food through the day)
  • Sleep mat*
  • Waterproofs* (Jacket and Trousers)
  • Outdoor clothing for wearing when you're on the water 
  • Spare clothing for wearing in camp or if you have an out of boat experience
  • Shoes for when paddling
  • Shoes for camp
  • Toiletries
  • Torch
  • Midge net and spray
  • Sun protection
  • Personal medication
  • Camera

*Most people bring these items themselves however if you require them please just let us know when completing your form on the Skyhook dashboard. 

** If you have your own safety equipment then that’s great. To use on any of the guides trips, the equipment must be CE marked, (ENISO12402) under 5 years old and be fit for use.

The total distance is 100km.

Each day you will paddle for up to 6 hours at a moderate pace, with plenty of breaks along the way.

The maximum group size is 8

There will be times that you'll pass by shops. On the third night, you'll camp next to the highland town of Fort Augustus where there will be shopping opportunities.

There will be 4 nights of wild camping. This means there are no toilets. Our guides will explain how to go to the toilet properly when in the wild so that we leave no trace. There are proper toilets though, along the canal, at every set of lock gates.

Yes! Most people are solo travellers. 

No - you'll take most of your luggage into the boat with you. Empty suitcases and any clothes you don't need can be left in the vehicle.

Start: Your guides will meet you at Neptune's Staircase in Banavie just outside Fort William at 11am. We can collect you from Fort William train station if you are arriving by train or staying in town the night before.

End: Your guide will arrange a taxi to drop you off at Inverness Train Station or back at Fort William by 4 pm on day 5 of your itinerary.
We make sure everyone gets to where they want to be. The trip itinerary occassionally has to change slightly if the winds are very high so we can never say for sure that it will end at a certain location. We aim for the north end of Loch Ness but it can't be 100% guaranteed - thats part of the adventure.

You do not need to be able to swim on this trip as you will be wearing a buoyancy aid (life jacket) whilst on the water.

The guides supply dry bags and barrels to keep everything nice and dry! Each person will have one large 60 litre barrel for their own personal use.

The weather in Scotland can be extremely unpredictable at all times of the year and the weather situations can change very quickly. Therefore, it is necessary to always be prepared for such a change. Canoeing is very affected by the wind and your guides may have to change the itinerary slightly if the high winds would make paddling unsafe. There are lots of lovely walks we can do for a half day or a day if paddling is not possible.

Mid seasons (Apr– May & Oct)
Temperatures in Scotland can vary at this time of year. Lows of 2 degrees Celsius and highs of 15 degrees Celsius. There can be some chances of rain, with May turning very green.

High Season (Jun – Sep)
June to Sept can be warm, with daytime temperatures ranging from 10 – 25 degrees Celsius. There can be some rain.

We recommend a minumum age of 16.

Sometimes the weather can deem an activity unfeasible for a set period of time. If this is the case, then your guide will offer an appropriate alternative. High winds might mean we can't paddle for a half day or maybe even a whole day.

Examples of alternative activities are as follows:

- The itinerary in reverse. The trip is much more enjoyable when you are not battling against the wind. 

- Canoe a different section of water.

- Hike some of the many trails around the Great Glen

As it stands, people are unable to share our transport due to social distancing regulations. You will be required to make your own way to Neptune’s Staircase for the start of our trip. If you have booked accommodation in Inverness then there are several ways that you can make this journey to the start of the trip:

  • Car: you can follow your satnav to the following address – Neptune’s Staircase, Banavie, Fort William, PH33 7NG. There is free car parking available here
  • Bus: There are buses available from both Fort William and Inverness. However, this is a much slower option. Full details can be found on the Scotland Citylink Bus website.
  • Taxi: Taxis are available from Fort William Train Station and cost around £10 to your start location. Taxi back from the end location costs in the region of £130 - £150 and can be shared with the others in the group. If you decide on this option, then please let the guide know, who can book this for you.
  • Train: You can get a train to Fort William, and then a taxi to your start location at Neptune’s Staircase.

Hopefully, the restrictions will ease before your trip. If this is the case, then the guide(s) can still help with transfers.