100km Canoe Expedition Across Scotland

Cross Scotland from Fort William in the west, to Inverness in the east along the Caledonian Canal

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Trip Ref #9599

100km Canoe Expedition Across Scotland

Cross Scotland from Fort William in the west, to Inverness in the east along the Caledonian Canal

DURATION

4 nights

LOCATION

United Kingdom

ANNUAL LEAVE

2 days off work

SEASON

Apr—Sep

GROUP SIZE

Up to 7 people

MEETING POINT

Central Inverness, Scotland

ACCOMMODATION

Classic

Wild camping

OVERALL RATING

5.0

Based on 136 reviews
DIFFICULTY

Moderate

Some experience in canoes or kayaks would be good but coaching will be provided throughout the trip.

Traverse 100km of flat water and experience the Great Glen Trail on a long-distance canoe adventure across Scotland

Cross the legendary Loch Ness and pretend that you’re not secretly looking for monsters

Wild camp at remote and beautiful spots along the way surrounded by some of the UK’s highest mountains

Day 1

Banavie to Gairlochy

Canoeing

11km

Meet your host in Inverness and drive to Banavie (near Fort William) where you’ll pack your canoe, get to know the group and have a practice paddle in the canal basin. Head for Gairlochy, where you’ll choose a suitably remote campsite and tuck into some tasty grub prepared by your guides and wild camp under the stars.

Day 2

Loch Oich

Canoeing

25km

Get back on the water and paddle the length of the creatively-named Loch Lochy. Pass through Laggan Locks and navigate your way to Loch Oich from where you can explore the surrounding, wooded bays and look for a secluded and scenic camping spot.

Day 3

Loch Ness

Canoeing

24km

Portage around the lock gates at Cullochy and Kytra, before reaching the village of Fort Augustus. Re-stock and then take on the world’s most famous loch, Loch Ness. Find a remote spot to camp and enjoy dinner on the beach as you pretend that you’re not secretly looking for Nessie.

Day 4

Head of the Loch

Canoeing

22km

The weather will determine your route and conditions today. If a strong wind is blowing it can get tough and you might even find yourself negotiating some decent waves. In normal conditions, however, it’s a leisurely, scenic paddle with views of Urqhuart Castle. That done, it's time to find a spot for the night at the head of Loch Ness before heading to the nearby Dores Inn to celebrate your last night with the group.

Day 5

Inverness

Canoeing

10km

Paddle along Loch Dochfour and through rolling farmland before entering Inverness where your adventure will come to an end. Unpack your canoe and head back to Inverness train station (or a location of your choice in the city centre) ready for your journey home.

Included

Guides

Local, certified canoe guides

Accommodation

4 nights wild camping

Meals

Munch on tasty food throughout

Transfers

To and from the start point in Inverness

Equipment

All your canoeing, camping and safety equipment

Not Included

Travel to and from the start point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Visas where required

Day 1

Wild camping · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 4

Wild camping · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

For breakfast expect cereal, bread, tea and coffee. For lunch, you can expect wraps with a variety of fillings, soup, and some home-baking for afters. Dinner will be 3-courses including pate and oatcakes, followed by a pasta or rice dish and a freshly made dessert such as chocolate cake made in a Dutch oven. Snacks and drinks will also be available between meals. Vegetarian, vegan and most dietary requirements can be catered for.

What is the accommodation like?

Wild Camp

You’ll wild camp in twin share tents in remote and beautiful spots by the loch side. Accommodation is basic with only one opportunity for a shower (Fort Augustus.)

Upgrades

For solo travellers wanting their own personal space, you can request your own private tent on the trip (subject to availability). See Optional Extras for prices. Just request when booking.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Central Inverness

09:00 on Day 1

Ends

Inverness town centre, train station, bus station, or your accommodation in town.

Early afternoon on Day 5

Transfers

You’ll meet your host in the car park at the Tesco Metro on Tomnahurich Street in Inverness at 09:00. You will then be transferred by minibus to Fort William (2-hour drive). We recommend you arrive the night before to ensure you don't miss your transfer.

Your trip will end in Inverness mid-afternoon. Your host will transfer you to the town centre train station, bus station, or your accommodation in Inverness. It is also easy to get a 25-minute taxi ride to Inverness Airport to catch a flight from late afternoon onwards. Please don't book any onwards travel before 5 pm in case of bad weather and a delayed arrival into Inverness.

Travel options

Inverness is well served by train routes and flights. There is a daily Virgin Trains East Coast from London King’s Cross to Inverness, and a number of route options within Scotland with ScotRail. There are also direct flights from across the UK and Europe.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • Tent
  • Inflatable sleeping mat
  • Cutlery, mug, bowl, plate
  • Buoyancy aid
  • Waterproof barrel for personal kit
  • Canoe helmet
  • Waterproofs (if requested)

Please let your host know of an indication of size for the waterproof clothing and helmet. Either an extra small, small, medium, large or extra large. An approx guess will do.

What do I need to bring?

  • Facemask (while social distancing in play)
  • Sleeping bag & sleeping bag liner if required (for extra warmth)
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • 2 sets of paddling clothes (lightweight, quick drying trousers, woolly socks, base layer top, t-shirt or shirt)
  • Pyjamas if required (most sleep in a set of thermals or similar)
  • Fleece x 2 (1 for paddling, 1 for evening)
  • Canoeing shoes/ Trainers that you don’t mind getting wet (no flip flops). Wellies are good too.
  • Dry trainers for evenings
  • 1 set of warm evening clothes (we hope to have a campfire some nights so take old clothes that you don’t mind getting smoky and dirty)
  • Warm gloves depending on time of year.
  • Warm hat/ sun hat
  • Spare socks and underwear
  • Sun cream/ Lip salve/ sunglasses with protective case
  • Midge head net & Midge repellent (June to September)
  • Toothpaste, toothbrush, shower gel
  • Small-medium towel
  • Swimming costume if you fancy a swim in a cold loch!
  • Torch (preferably head torch)
  • Small day sack for waterproofs, snacks, sun cream etc.
  • Camera (in waterproof bag if necessary)
  • Spare batteries
  • Water bottle
  • Personal hand sanitizer

Please note that cotton and denim clothing are not recommended for paddling in, as they have no thermal properties when wet.

Bear in mind when packing - that all your personal kit, including sleeping bag and part of a tent - needs to fit into a 60 litre canoe barrel (about the size of an expedition rucksack).

If you like to snack, please pack your own light snacks - remember they must fit in the bag!

Solo Tent Occupancy

Payable Before Departure

Solo Tent Occupancy

Per Person

- Nicholas(September 2022)

I don't know where to start! Exceeded all my expectations from day one. Our guide Aiden worked at least 16 hours a day to make sure we had the trip of a lifetime! The group bonded like old friends and quickly fell into a routine in camp and at portages to help Aiden as much as we could. You truly get out of this experience what you put in so be prepared to get stuck in setting up camp and helping with chores! It was pretty tough going at times with 4ft waves on Loch Ness but thanks to Aiden constantly checking weather conditions we made the most of the wind and had a truly perfect trip! Even getting to swim in the Lochs after a hard days paddling. The food was excellent both for flavour and energy for the work required! I would like to say thank you to the group and Aiden for a truly memorable experience, it wouldn't have been the same without you all!!!!!😃

- Karen(September 2022)

The whole trip from start to finish was amazing. The route, the scenery, the group - all brilliant! Our guide, Andy went above and beyond for us all, made the whole experience fantastic and his cooking - unreal!! Who knew you could have such delicious food at the side of a Loch?? Genuinely one of the best experiences I've ever had!!

- Thomas(September 2022)

By the time you finish your epic canoeing expedition accross the wilds of Scotland you will be sore, sunburnt, midge-bitten, and acheing all over, but you will also be grinning like an idiot and amazed at your own powers of endurance. My trip was incredible from start to finish. Our host Tash brought together a group of disparate beginners from different walks of life and turned us into a cohesive group of confident canoers, taking a laidback approach that gave us the satisfaction of learning at our own pace and figuring out problems by ourselves, while cooking restaurant-quality food for the whole group every evening! I'm definitely going back again next year, and I will be reccomending this expedition to all of my friends.

- Linda(September 2022)

Relaxed trip was never rushed, couple of long paddles, at your own pace. Being an older person l found the portage’s tricky but got plenty of help. Then was rewarded with a lovely lunch.

- Miriam(September 2022)

Highly recommend this trip . It exceeded my expectations as I thought that 100km of constant paddling would become monotonous after a time, how wrong I was!!!. From the start, every day was different from gliding through still waters down Laggan Avenue to rafting the canoes together to create stability in rough waters as we crossed lough Ness . As well as portage around lock gates when our bribes to the gatekeepers did not work. But my favourite was flying a spinnaker (holding up a sail with the paddles to catch the wind when it was blowing directly behind you) and so allowing the canoe to travel at speed without paddling but siting back and enjoying the sun and the view.Equipment from boats to tents were excellent.Even the Midges could not dampen the great dynamics and high spirits of the whole group throughout the trip Most of all the trip was made so successful and enjoyable due to the diligent work of our team lead Tasha. She is truly a super woman ...making us feel safe at all times, cooking delicious food on open fires, revising our course to suit weather conditions as well as great campfire stories and of course many local legends.

- Linda(September 2022)

A great experience should have done this years ago I loved it

- Mark(September 2022)

Wow. Spending a few days on the water in the care of a great host, Andy and getting to know some fabulous people was a great great experience. Didn't want it to end

- Steve(September 2022)

Amazing trip, well organised, food was exceptional all cooked by our guide Andy, who was brilliant and cheerful throughout.

- Hannah(September 2022)

I had a fantastic time on this trip! Tash was an amazing guide and I really appreciated her good humor, stories, and thoughtful approach to everyone’s safety and wellbeing throughout the trip. The route is stunning, and each day we were able to see new aspects of the beautiful canals, lochs, beaches, and forests. Highlights for me were swimming in the cold clear waters of Loch Lochy, the food - especially Brenda’s chilli and Jamaican ginger cake with custard, getting to know a fantastic bunch of people, singing folk songs around a campfire on the beach, and putting the canoe sails up on Loch Ness. I really enjoyed completing this challenge, and the sense of confidence and resilience that came with doing so. I would absolutely do it all again!

- Linda(September 2022)

What an adventure! It exceeded expectations in every way. Our group bonded straight away, we all pulled together and laughed alot. Luke, our leader was outstanding; he even changed our direction of travel (we started at Inverness instead of Fort William)because he'd checked the wind direction forecast and had good local knowledge of conditions - we tried not to be too smug when meeting other canoeists battling into a head wind! The food was varied, well cooked,plentiful and all dietry preferences well catered for. There was a variety of weather conditions, some midges, no showers, not alot of access to real loos, sometimes the paddling felt hard but it didn't matter, it's what made it feel like a real adventure and we loved every single minute of it.

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 46kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

Your host suggests some experience in canoes or kayaks, but coaching will be provided throughout.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

The Scottish summer is usually warm but you can expect some rain, even if it's just a little. Prepare for anything and think ‘layers.’ Conditions in April and May will be slightly cooler, with the potential for frost at night. Kit-wise, the main thing is a warm sleeping bag, or an additional bag liner if you feel the cold more.

Rose Street Car Park in central Inverness is the best option for this trip.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're in good company. Our adventures are typically made up of a mix of solo travellers and small groups of two or three friends who simply love adventure, pushing themselves and meeting awesome like-minded people. See here for more info about our lovely bunch of Much Better Adventurers.

Want to book a private trip? Just tap ‘Private Group’ in the dates and prices tab.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

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