Your questions answered
How about fishing?
What type of boat should I book?
As you can see on our site, we do have quite a range of different boat classes to choose from so it is understandably difficult to make the right choice. We recommend that if possible you take a boat larger than you actually need (the extra space certainly won't go amiss!) and try to avoid having to convert the table into a berth. If there are 6 adults in your party, opt for Highland Monarch, Taransay or Torridon class.
For 2 couples the Strathspey, Torridon and Kintail class are perfect as they have island type double berths (where you can access either side of the bed) and 2 toilets and showers. These vessels can book up around 12 months in advance.
For families/ parties of 3-4 we recommend Balmoral, Highland Glen and Eriskay class.
For smaller parties of 2- 3 the Eriskay and Mull of Kintyre are great boats.
The Isle of Skye class is ideal for couples but we only have one boat at the moment so she does tend to book up early. The Eriskay class is also great for 2, built in the same style as the Isle of Skye but with a different interior layout; and we have 6 vessels of this type in the fleet.
All of our vessels feature side thrusters, which makes a huge difference to the manoeuvrability of the vessel.
The average weekly fuel consumption across the season is approx. 150 - 200 L for the larger vessels and 110 - 150 L for the smaller vessels. The fuel consumption during spring and autumn is often higher than the seasonal average. The cost for fuel used is charged at the end of your holiday. Please note: we will contact you by phone a day or two before the first day of your hire to collect the Fuel & Security Deposit (of currently £500) only as a pre-authorisation of a credit card (or debit card). The fuel charges will be taken from that pre-authorised amount at the end of your holiday, once we know the actual fuel consumption. This will most likely be a few hours after your departure. The difference to the pre-authorised amount should be released by your bank within a few working days after completion of the transaction. Please make sure that we have a valid contact phone/mobile number for you.
Is this holiday suitable for me?
Boating on the Caledonian Canal is different from other inland cruising areas. It can get quite rough on the lochs and a certain amount of physical activity is involved when locking and berthing, therefore we request a minimum of 2 fit and active adult crew members (21 yrs. or over) to be available at all times to participate in these activities. We provide safety briefings for skipper and crew and a thorough boat handling instruction on hand-over. A boat driving licence or previous experience is not required.
All of our vessels have steps inside and some also have ladders to access the boat. On some boat classes the steps can be steep, please bear this in mind, as it can be challenging for toddlers, the elderly and infirm crew members and for people with limited mobility. Please also think about your pets having to climb the stairs. When disembarking from the vessel onto a pontoon, the height difference can at times be approximately 3ft. Should this be a problem for any of your crew, or indeed you have any queries or concerns, please do discuss them with us prior to booking.
We recommend you view our instruction films prior to booking, these provide a great insight into what a holiday with Caley Cruisers involves.
Can I take my dog/pet with me?
We do allow pets on many of our boats. However, some of our boat classes have specific pet free vessels (i.e. no pets allowed) and these are clearly indicated on our online availability checker. If you are considering taking your pet, please be aware that you may need to lift your pet on and off the boat in order to get them ashore. If it gets rough when you are out on the boat, this may be stressful for your pet. Our holiday may not be suitable for elderly, nervous and large pets, therefore please consider this carefully when you are thinking about your holiday plans. A pet charge of currently £50 per pet/per week (minimum charge £50) is applicable. The pet charge is not pro rata, i.e. a booking of more than 1 week (10 or 11 nights) incurs an additonal weekly pet charge per pet. We kindly ask our customers to bring pet blankets or baskets but also to ensure that the pets do not lie on the beds or seating. We reserve the right to make an extra charge if additional cleaning is required or if damage to any of the vessels fixtures and fittings occurs.
Do I need to take anything with me?
All of our boats are fully equipped with all galley utensils, crockery, pots and pans and basic cleaning supplies. Safety equipment & life jackets are also included. Freshly laundered bed linen and towels are provided - we supply duvets for all fixed berths and sleeping bags (or duvets if preferred) for the convertible berths. Blankets and pillows for everyone are on board. Please advise of any allergies prior to arrival. You will find an inventory of items on board in the section About the fleet.
There is no first aid kit supplied with the boat so please bring your own and please also remember to bring gloves as they are very important for rope work.
Please note: Scottish Canals made it compulsory that gloves are worn by boaters when locking during the pandemic, as ropes are passed to the lock keepers. This may still be applicable for some time.
Other recommended items are: binoculars, torch, sunglasses, sun lotion and insect repellent.
When is the best time to come to Scotland?
Scotland is beautiful in every season although, as its reputation suggests, it can sometimes be unpredictable. May, June and July benefit from long daylight hours - in mid June it doesn't get dark until approximately 11.30 pm! The beautiful colours of spring and summer delight the customers - the canal banks are lined with yellow from broom and gorse and Loch Oich is ablaze with Rhododendrons. During September and October you will be treated to the wonderful colours of autumn but the weather does tend to get slightly cooler then too.
How long can I cruise?
We do ask that you are berthed up for the evening at least one hour before it gets dark - however cruising is mainly restricted to the Scottish Canals opening times. All of the bridges and locks are operated by keepers and the hours of operation are usually from 09:00 hrs until 17:00 hrs,
7 day operation from Easter to the end of October. During the summer months the times are
09:00 - 17:30. They close for a 1 hour lunch break sometime between 12:00 hrs and 14:00 hrs.
These hours of operation are subject to change each year.
For the Tomnahurich swing bridge in Inverness (near the Caley Cruisers boat yard) restrictions apply 3 times a day during car traffic peak times (rush hour), Mon-Fri, when the bridge will not open for canal traffic. Up-to-date information will be provided on arrival.
Can I use electrical appliances on board?
The easiest and most convenient power source on all of our boats is the 12v cigarette lighter connection which is more than adequate for charging mobile phones and devices. All boats also feature a 240 volt inverter which means that mains power (3 pin plugs) can also be used onboard at any time (battery power levels depending). Please note, however, that some inverters are suitable for charging mobile phones only.
Using electrical hook-up is possible on all boats, but please be aware that not all moorings along the canal provide electrical hook-up points, therefore we do not recommend that you rely on this. On all boats we request that no more than 1500 Watts appliances should be used. If you have any questions regarding this, please contact the boatyard for advice.
Is there mobile phone reception and Wi-Fi along the canal?
For the majority of the time you spend on the canal you will find that the mobile phone signal is generally very good (but also depending on provider). However, there may be one or two areas where the signal will be either weak or not available.
There are Highland Wi-Fi Public Hotspots (fees applicable / pay as you go) available at several locations along the canal. Caley Cruisers provides free Wi-Fi for customers at their boat yard in Inverness.
Can I stock up with grocery supplies along the canal?
There are various stops along the canal where you can stock up with supplies, mainly Fort Augustus, and there are supermarkets in Fort William. However, we do recommend that you purchase some supplies from Inverness prior to your departure from the boatyard. There is a Co-op and a Lidl located close to the boatyard or you can order online at ASDA, Sainsbury’s and TESCO for delivery to the boat yard. Please avoid any frozen food and select a delivery time that is as close to your arrival time slot as possible.
What are the rules about smoking on board?
Smoking is not permitted on board any of our vessels (including enclosed canopy areas on deck). We will apply a £200 charge if, on return, it is evident people have been smoking inside the vessel (including enclosed canopy areas on deck) and the vessel or canopy smells of smoke. The charge may be taken from the payment card that was used to pre-authorise the Fuel & Security Deposit. See our Terms & Conditions of Hire.
What happens on Arrival & Departure to and from the boatyard?
Please see our "Getting Started" page for detailed information about our hand over procedures.
Most people tend to spend their final night back at the boatyard. As we do aim to allow boarding of vessels for between 11:00 & 14:00 hrs 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 you will be able to access your vehicle if it is parked with us. Due to the current operating procedures in place, we may require you to strip bed linen (if this is the case you will be advised on arrival and provided with laundry bags for linen and towels).
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.
Secure car parking (outdoors) is available free of charge at the boat yard (parking at your own risk). Please note: Depending on the vehicle numbers for the week you are booked with us (including cars booked in advance), we may need to restrict the parking to only 1 vehicle per boat (or possibly a maximum of only 2) at a later date. Should this be the case, we will advise well in advance and suggest alternative car parking facilities (where parking charges are applicable). Because of the pandemic there is a high demand on our car parking facilities due to reduced numbers of guests flying to Inverness and the impossibility of car sharing.
Note: Should you require a space for a larger vehicle, such as a motor home, caravan or camper, it is important to enquire at the time of booking or contact us well in advance to discuss whether we can accommodate your request, as there are only limited spaces available for larger vehicles.
The Great Glen offers some great cycle trails for all abilities, which are best suited for mountain bikes. Standard mountain bikes are available for hire from Caley Cruisers (one size for each: adults 26'' wheels; children 24'' wheels and suitable for 8-10 yrs). Pre-booking is essential as only limited numbers available; payment due with hire balance. Please contact us for details and prices. However, you are welcome to bring your own bicycles along (you will also require bungee cords). The number of bicycles we would permit to take on board may be limited (usually 4-6), depending also on boat class booked.
A hard copy of our Navigational Chart will be available on board your vessel. However, you can download a copy in pdf format in advance via this link:
How about fishing?
For information about fishing within the cruising area, please refer to the information provided on the Scottish Canals website. Caley Cruisers don't sell fishing licences or equipment. We also don't have any dingies for hire.