Try and aim to be at the boatyard between 12:00 & 14:00 on the day you start your hire. We do recommend that you pick up your shopping supplies in the morning if at all possible. Should you need to leave luggage with us to give you some room in your car please come along any time in the morning and we can put it in our store area (Please note that we unfortunately do not have facilities to store frozen food so we recommend you do not order any). We have a Co-op, Lidl and Aldi within a mile of the boatyard. Tesco, Asda & Sainsbury will all deliver to us and we are happy to accept delivery in advance of your arrival - aim for a slot between 11am & 12pm.
A local supplier, Macleod Organics, will also deliver to us. You will be able to top up in the glen with food supplies at Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus and Fort William. (No supermarket at Fort Augutus)
We have a waiting area, free Wi-Fi, toilets and showers at the boatyard so if you arrive early you're most welcome to freshen up, have a coffee and relax whilst reading through your handbook.
We commence our Safety Videos at 12:00, they run at regular intervals and the last one will start at 14:00 so it is important you arrive before this. We do like all members of your crew to view the safety information in the film. If you are unavoidably delayed please contact the boatyard so we know when to expect you. The office is manned during the cruising season until 17:00 (Saturday until 15:00), therefore it is important you contact us before then. Please note: should your arrival be after 18:00, a hand-over may not be possible and may have to be arranged for the next day.
Your vessel will usually be ready to board between 12:30 & 14:00. When you are on board we will demonstrate how the interior works eg. daily engine checks, use of cooker, etc and do a boat handling demonstration. There is quite a lot to take in on your first day and everything that we explain on the demonstration is also detailed in a handbook that we will give you when you check in at the reception. If you are already experienced then you will simply need to demonstrate your competence to us.
Once all the demonstrations and paperwork have been completed, you will depart, usually between 14:00 & 15:00 hrs, travelling through the first swing bridge at Tomnahurich and on towards Dochgarroch Lock. This canal section takes about 1 hour to cruise so you will usually arrive between 15:00 & 16:00 hrs. It's here that we will leave you, therefore if you have any queries or are unsure about anything, please ask. When you're out on your holiday, you do have access to a 24 hour service number which is always manned by a member of our team, so if you have any queries regarding the weather, cruising area or your vessel, you will always manage to contact us.
Occasional rough weather means that you may have to spend the first evening at Dochgarroch so always make sure you have some supplies on board for your first evening just in case it's not possible to travel further. The Lock Keeper will make sure you have everything you need. There are Scottish Canals toilet and shower facilities located here, as well as shore power connections and water.
Most of the time however it is possible to make it onto Drumnadrochit for your first evening, this is about 1.5 hours cruise from Dochgarroch. During the lighter summer months, and subject to suitable weather conditions, it is possible to get to Fort Augustus on the first evening. However this can be quite a lot of cruising to do on your first day so we recommend Drumnadrochit as your first overnight stop.
Foyers is very exposed to north-easterly winds, therefore it's not possible to berth here overnight at all, but it is a lovely day time short stop for a couple of hours to visit the Falls of Foyers. However, sometimes adverse weather conditions or forecast may prevent hire cruisers from mooring here altogether. Permission from Caley Cruisers (weather) and owners of the Pier is required prior to berthing (berthing fee applicable).
It takes about 2 hours to cruise from Drumnadrochit to Fort Augustus. This lovely village is a great stop along the way with things to see, shops and eating establishments to visit. Most 3-night short break cruises tend to go as far as Fort Augustus and start from here the return trip back to Inverness. Those proceeding further will have to negotiate the flight of 5 locks, which usually takes about 1.5 hrs (it can be several hours including waiting time). The friendly lock keepers are happy to assist you with any queries. You have Scottish Canals Waterways toilets and showers at both the bottom and top of the lock flight, the lower one also has a laundry facility.
Departing Fort Augustus travelling south west, you first reach Kytra Lock. This is a lovely, quiet spot for a barbeque. There is beautiful wildlife in this very remote spot, so you may catch a glimpse of a pine marten or red squirrel here.
Travelling on you'll reach Cullochy Lock, continuing south-west you will then pass through Aberchalder Bridge and then out onto Loch Oich, there is plenty to do here. If you're just out for a 4-night short-break cruise, this is normally as far as you would travel before making the return trip back towards Inverness.
After passing through Laggan Bridge, you'll pass through the beautiful tree lined Laggan Avenue, then travel on towards Laggan Locks. There are toilet and shower facilities here. After passing through the lock you'll reach Loch Lochy, this beautiful part of the canal system is dominated by Ben Tee. It takes about 2 hours to cruise to the southern end, where you reach Gairlochy Locks. There are currently no stopping points on Loch Lochy, so next stop after Laggan Locks is Gairlochy Locks.
The final canal section takes 1 hr to cruise and you’ll pass through the quaint Moy Bridge, where the local farmer and his livestock are the only patrons. Arrival at Banavie brings you to the end of the cruising area. Here you can watch the sea going boats transit through the flight of 8 locks at Neptune's Staircase. Here you’ll find Scottish Canals moorings and facilities. Banavie is just a couple of miles from the town of Fort William.
Days 4 - 6
If you're out for a week you can make a leisurely trip back towards Inverness, doing as much or as little as you like in this truly fabulous location.
Day 7 - Final Day (returning the boat)
Most people tend to spend their final night back at the boatyard. As we do aim to allow boarding of vessels for between 12:30 & 13:30 on the day you collect your boat, the only way we can manage this is by having a return time of 08:30 am on your final day. If you return to the boatyard on the evening prior to your hand-over the vessels are usually refueled. There are some lovely places to eat out in Inverness and we also have toilets, showers, WiFi and shore power facilities back at the boatyard. If you prefer not to return to the boat yard on your final night, the east side of the Tomnahurich swing bridge close to the yard is usually the alternative.
For short break holidays, we may occasionally be able to apply some flexibility - at our discretion - and allow you to take the first Tomnahurich swing bridge opening at 09:15 (Mo-Fri) or 09:00 (Sat) to return and vacate the vessel by 09:15-09:30. However, this must be agreed upon with us on arrival on the first day of hire. You may have to prepare (e.g. packing, clean-up) your vessel beforehand, so that vacating the vessel is not delayed. It would then also be possible to stay at the east side of Dochgarroch lock (i.e. you need to pass through the lock to the east side, the day prior to hand-over) and come through Tomnahurich swing bridge as soon as it opens in the morning, therefore be ready at the swing bridge just before opening time. It takes about 45 min. to cruise from the east side of Dochgarroch Lock to the Tomnahurich swing bridge.
Please note that as per hire terms all vessels are due to be returned to the charter base at 8:30am and vacated no later than 9:00am on the day of departure.