As some of you may be aware there has been a delay in works on the Caledonian Canal, meaning the canal waterway is not able to open for navigation until over a month later than planned. Please see the press release from Scottish Canals.
On Wednesday 30th March I visited the Cullochy Locks works site and met with Scottish Canals site manager to discuss the possibilities of canoeists, kayakers, and paddleboarders using the temporary access created for walkers and cyclists taking on the Great Glen Ways route.
A number of options were discussed and a few are still pending however the main points are listed below to help planning over the next seven weeks.
Option 1 – The canal navigation channel is officially closed till approx. 20th May 2022 when the works are complete and the normal canoe portage route will be usable.
Option 2 – Paddlers who do still take on the Canoe Trail may be able to exit the canal bank and climb out onto the towpath opposite to the normal canoe portage route (south side), follow the walkers/cyclist diversion route around the worksite, and relaunch on a pontoon below the worksite.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS ROUTE MAY BE CLOSED FOR SAFETY WHEN THE LOCK GATES ARE READY TO BE LIFTED BACK IN BY THE MULTIPLE CRANES NEEDED TO FINALISE THE WORKS. PLEASE LIAISE WITH SCOTTISH CANALS REGARDING THIS OPTION. LANDING AND REMOVING YOUR CRAFT FROM THE SLOPING CANAL BANK IS REQUIRED, AS WELL AS PORTAGING 260M ACROSS A NARROW WALKWAY (BUT WIDE ENOUGH FOR A CANOE) SO SOME MANUAL HANDLING AND LIFTING SKILLS ARE REQUIRED!