Great Glen Canoe Trail Adventure – July 2023

  •  10/07/2023 - 14/07/2023
     9:30 am - 5:00 pm

Join Donald Macpherson on this five-day coast-to-coast canoeing adventure across Scotland.

The Great Glen Canoe Trail is the most popular Canoe Trail in the UK which not only was Donald the Project Officer for two years setting up every aspect of the trail, but also the author of both the 2011 original and 2020 2nd edition Great Glen Canoe Trail guidebook.

Explore Highland ran by Donald has been offering amazing paddling adventure holidays across the whole of the Scottish Highlands and across the Great Glen for over ten years, so rest assured you’ll be in safe hands and guaranteed a great adventurous holiday with great company!

Day 1:

Meeting in Inverness, the shuttle helps transports the group s kit across to the trail to the starting point at the top of Neptunes Staircase by Banavie, Fort William. If preferred, your can meet at the Fort William if easier. Kit is issued and checks are put in place to ensure everyone has everything they need.

You’ll learn to work as a tandem team with your paddling partner. Firstly, learning how to load and pack your kit into the canoe then secondly learn some slick paddling skills to become as efficient and effective paddling duo in your canoe. Coaching top tips and handy hints are given along the Caledonian Canal to ensure the distance required is covered in the remaining days. Setting up our wild camping site on the Northside of Loch Lochy, you’ll learn all about your tents, cooking kit, with plenty of time to put your feet up and enjoy the stunning views all around.

Day 2:

Starting on Loch Lochy after de camping we’ll introduce the skill of canoe sailing and help continue the learning and fun on the water. Portaging onto Laggan Avenue, we enjoy paddling through what is one of the most scenic and calm canal locations before taking a well-deserved stop off at Loch Oich Food Co. for some home baking and hot drinks (should we reach here before 2 pm closing. Wild campsite for the evening is only a few miles down the loch.

Day 3:

The fun and learning continue after a short paddle across the last few miles of Loch Oich. Here your guide will further your team skills and safely guide you down the River Oich, a grade one river with two grade two main rapids to navigate. Paddling this river allows you to paddle all the way to Loch Ness, saving three portages. The group is offered the opportunity to take some well-deserved time out visiting Fort Augustus for souvenirs and extra supplies. Then it’s your first wild camp on the side of Loch Ness.

Day 4:

Waking up on the bank of Loch Ness, everyone operates like a Swiss watch, everyone knows their job and the group easily launch. Enjoying the world-famous loch should be started off at a relaxed pace. We paddled the Southside of Loch Ness between Fort Augustus to Foyers in the morning. Should the weather be suitable and the group are up for land exploring, we rest the paddling arms by taking a leisurely walk up from Lower Foyers to visit the Falls of Foyers and a quick visit to the village coffee shop. In the afternoon with hopefully the help of the wind behind us, we sail the rest of the day’s distance down to Dores beach. The last evening is spent wild camping in this area reflecting on the loch with views of 20 miles back up the loch. We are also less than half a mile from Dores Inn, where the individuals or as a group we can head along the forest walk to enjoy some food & or rehydration.

Day 5:

Last day, we launch back onto Loch Ness for the last two miles. Then it’s onto Loch Dochfour for only 2 more miles. Here we line the loaded canoes down the fish chute before taking on the last seven-mile leg of the day down the River Ness (grade 1/2). Stopping halfway down the river we chill out for the last rural tea break before paddling on through the heart of the Highland Capital. We paddle down through the Ness Islands, past Eden Court Theatre, Inverness Cathedral, and Inverness Castle, before the trip finishes on the final high just outside the Waterfront Bar on Huntly Street. Here we complete our final landing and unloading.

Zoom Meeting

There will be an evening zoom meeting held a month before the activity start date to ensure all participants get a virtual face to face, a opportunity to confirm information and to ask further questions.

A Zoom meeting has been planned for Tuesday 16th May 2023 @ 8 pm.

EH supplies: 

  • suitable tandem canoes, paddles, buoyancy aids & helmets
  • canoe sailing equipment
  • 70 ltr large dry bags & canoe barrels
  • tent, roll mat, all cooking equipment & toilet bag (if required)
  • five days of canoe guiding/coaching on canal sections, open water lochs and two rivers
  • Great Glen Canoe Trail/ Caledonian Canal history and stories
  • free signed GGCT Guidebook (posted out on booking deposit/full payment received)
  • copies of photos taken by your guide during the adventure

What you need to bring:

We recommend bring along;

  • your own warm paddling clothing
  • good waterproof trouser & jacket
  • suitable footwear for paddling (wet shoes) and for camp (dryshoes)
  • hat, cap & gloves
  • spare clothing & sleeping bag
  • torch or headtorch
  • personal toiletries, midgy spray & suntan lotion
  • buff/facemask for visiting local shops etc
  • individual snacks and treats for between meals
  • food (5x lunches, 4x breakfasts, 4x dinners, a water bottle, a flask/cup
  • additional spending money – For any souvenirs, additional tea/coffee/treats on the route, and if you’d prefer to have a meal/drink out in Fort Augustus (day 3) and/or at Dores Inn (day 4).

Personal Belongings: Camera’s, phones, car keys, and other personal belongings are taken out on the Canoe Trail at your own risk.

Group Size: Max 8

Craft: Tandem open canoes will be used. People who book in pairs can paddle together. Individuals will be paired up. Should there be an odd number in the group, the guide will paddle with a different client per day.

Distance: approx. 12-15 miles per day.

Duration: Five days paddling/four nights wild camping by the loch sides

Meeting Time: 9.30am at Great Glen Canoe Trail car park in Inverness or midday of at the top of Neptune Staircase, Banavie, Fort William. There is a free car parking at both ends of the canoe trail. This will be explained at meeting time.

Finish Time: Approx. 3-5.00 pm on Day 5 in Inverness City Centre. There is a Citylink bus service that runs from Inverness back to Fort William every two hours.

Paddling Experience Req:  Very little canoeing/paddling experience is required for this adventure. Starting on the Caledonian Canal on day 1, there is time to teach the basic forward paddling and steering skills. Each day your skills will improve with the different paddling environments this coast-to-coast adventure brings.

Physical Fitness: Although paddling is relatively relaxing, paddlers should be generally fit and possibly do some upper body muscular endurance training to build up to paddle for five days. Lifting kit, barrels, and sharing lifting of the empty canoe on and off the water with your paddling partner is required. Best practice lifting & moving techniques will be shown.

Age: This adventure is suitable for adults, or accompanied children(14-17 years old)

Price: £500 per person, £400 accompanied 14-17 year old

Payment: You can book your place online by completing the booking process below. A 25% non-refundable deposit option is also available with the balance invoice forwarded for payment six weeks prior to adventure start date.

Terms & Conditions: Terms and conditions can be found online – www.explorehighland.com/terms-conditions/

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