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Caledonian Canal

A Wonder Of Its Age
The Caledonian Canal is 96.6km (60 miles) in length of which 35.4km (22 miles) is man made. The Caledonian Canal goes from Inverness to Fort William.  Harnessing the waters of Loch Ness it is a great waterway of the world.  Set in the highland scenery it makes for one of the best sailing routes in the UK.

Photo Gallery

The Great Glen of the Highlands with Lochs Lochy, Oich, Ness and Dochfour lined up between Fort William and Inverness were made one by the  artificial canals to link them together. Once completed a 60-mile water way between western and eastern seawaters always open was guaranteed.

Thomas Telford and William Jessop worked together on the project as they did on several others.  The locks were massive by the standard of the day and the biggest at more than 50 yards of anything seen in the UK up till then.  The locks are arranged in staircases at places.  An eight lock set of locks can be seen at Banavie and are known as Neptune's Staircase.  Engineering on the grand scale is commonplace.

The main purpose for building the canal connection was to enable ships to avoid the Pentland Firth with all its dangers and history of sunken ships.  By the time it was completed in 1847 after many years steam ships had made their appearance and the canal was not so necessary. Nevertheless it was still important to the Highland economy and still remains a huge tourist attraction to this day.  Set in one of the most beautiful places in the UK it is sought after location for many from sailors to canal boats and from visitors travelling round the lochs by car.

The Lochs at some parts are deeper than the North Sea and the fame of the legendary Loch Ness Monster gives it an attraction beyond anything that could not be written by tourist brochures.  But monster or not the area is a wild life haven.

Along the way round the canal there is lot to see.  check out some of these -
Urquhart Castle
Invergarry Castle
The Well of the Seven Heads
The Dark Mile

Scotland's Waterways
Scottish Canals information can be found at this web site with full details of opening times and sizes of locks etc

History By Waterway - Caledonian Canal
Clicking On Canals

Scotland's Canals - An Asset For The Future
The Great Glen Way

Canal At Dochgarroch

A Highland Archaeology Fortnight Event - 14 October 05
To celebrate the achievement of a mammoth feat of engineering, The Highland Council's Planning and Development Service Rangers and British Waterways Scotland are holding a living history family event for Highland Archaeology Fortnight.

"Telford's Tales", is a guided walk that allows participants to meet characters re-enacting engineer Thomas Telford, William Jessop and some of the people who worked on these grand designs.

Clelland McCallum, Great Glen Way Ranger Service said: "The Highlands of Scotland has a rich industrial archaeological past. The Caledonian Canal is one of the most important historic sites in Scotland running through the heart of the Highlands and is still in use today.

"The Canal was the first public funded transport scheme and was built to boost the economy of the highlands, at a time when the British Government was scared that the Highlands of Scotland would side with the French during the Napoleonic War.

"Thomas Telford was the greatest engineer of his day and built many of the structures that now taken for granted, from roads and railways to the Caledonian Canal which was the first form of public transport and took nearly 20 years to build when works began in 1803. We are hoping to get across to people the brilliant story the Canal still has to tell"

The event will be held in Fort Augustus on Friday 14th October 2005 at 2.00 - 3.30pm to book a place contact Highland Council Planning and Development Great Glen Way Rangers on 01320 366633.