Travelling: Scotland

Bridge (A 9) over the Moray Firth near Inverness
Bound for Inverness, very early in the morning, we pass underneath the bridge over the Moray Firth.

When it becomes possible to increase time for holidays from three weeks to four, it also becomes possible to visit the Hebrides. There's a beautiful way to come there by sailing through the Caledonian Canal in Scotland. The canal was finished in 1822 and especially the British Navy used it to find an easy and safe connection between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, avoiding the dangerous and troubled way around Cape Wrath in-between Scotland and the Orkneys. As the ships grew bigger and bigger and the introduction of engines, the waterway became too narrow and used by small vessels only to sail to and from the Hebrides. The locks were neglected and to pass through, you had to operate by yourself. But then pleasure craft and commerce discovered their possibilities there and the locks were restored the one after another and there are lock keepers again. In 1969 all the locks were mechanized. Now you will find many companies along the canal to rent motor boats. It is rather expensive to pass the canal.

We sail into the Moray Firth in the middle of the night. It's pitch-black and after careful navigating among the sand banks, very early in the morning, we arrive before the lock near Inverness. There's a pretty strong tide running and we have to await the opening of the lock at 8 am. The Firth is full of life as there are porpoises and seals. It is cold and so the light is, but very clear. The water level in the canal is high, the water is running over the doors, forming a water fall. The water way between Inverness and Fort William is a system of short canals connecting the various lakes, the 'lochs'. 'Loch Ness' is the most well known lake. The canal is about 90 km long and there are 29 locks. Highest part is 33 meters above sea level.
Scotland as seen in the cold morning light
Awaiting opening time for the lock

Neglected jetty The sea lock near Inverness with its neglected jetty. The water comes in with a big violence! The water comes in with violence!
Lock near Inverness

Inverness - 4-flight lock
Lock keeper's home View on Inverness from the upper lock basin
The four-flight lock at Inverness. The terrain level raises quickly; higher than in the Netherlands!

Inverness - Bell tower Inverness - Castle Inverness - Naughty sea gull
The town of Inverness
Above: The town of Inverness with its castle. Below: The cathedral and a bridge for pedestrians over the river Ness.
Bridge for pedestrians over the river Ness The engine ran out of order; it had no power anymore and it stopped several times when we were inside the lock. So we had to solve that problem first. The problem was caused by blocked injectors and new parts had to come from London... It took one day and a half for repair, but in the afternoon we went for sight seeing to Inverness. The next day it was pouring out rain, so the day for repair wasn't a lost one. I was very amazed to find the parts arriving that noon as promised and then the question was settled very soon. After trials on the canal, we went on the next day.
Inverness - Cathedral

Loch Ness Loch Ness is a water filled valley
Sleeping with "Nessie", but no sign of any monster
Swans with their children, absolutely no monster!.. Urquhart Castle; Nessie's home?
From Inverness we sail to Loch Ness. At Drumnadrochit, on the northern bank of Loch Ness, we find a nice place for passing the night in a little bay, named; Urquhart Bay. Opposite we see the ruin of Urqu-hart Castle. Here, in water of 225 meters deep, the monster should live. We didn't see it though it was excellent weather; strong wind, foggy and rainy. We ask somebody how to see the monster. The answer? You buy a bottle of whisky and drink it at once. Then you'll see... Okay, no need to visit Scotland. This remedy will work at home too! There's a strong northeasterly wind and we sail to Fort Augustus. It's cold and rainy... Country house opposite Urquhart Castle

Fort Augustus - Waiting place near Loch Ness Fort Augustus - Motor yachts waiting in the lock
At the southwesterly end of Loch Ness, you'll find Fort Augus-tus. The name reminds on the old Roman fortress at the nort-hern extremity of the Roman empire. There is a 5 flight lock. The British boat renters are as bad skippers as those in the Netherlands! When the doors opened, the boat in front of me gave full power... in reverse! We just could avoid a collision.
The 5-flight lock of Fort Augustus

Fort Augustus - Abbey Fort Augustus - Abbey
Fort Augustus - The old Roman fortress was changed to an English fortress against the Scottish and is an Abbey now.

Caledonian Canal
Caledonian Canal - Swing bridge Caledonian Canal - Canal boat
Sometimes the canal is rather narrow, the landscape beautiful and so the weather is!

Cullochy Lock
Epilobium palustre Chamaenerion augustifolium Lotus corniculatus Digitalis purpurea
Erica tetralix At Cullochy Locks we have to wait for the lock keeper has finished his lunch break. Of course, we don't blame him for that and I start to look around for wild flowers. There are many! The bank of the canal shows a lot of different ones and I make many pictures. The weather is nice with easterly wind. We are very curious to see Loch Oich!... Thymus

Loch Oich Loch Oich
Loch Oich

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Last updated on January 2, 2004 by: