Caledonian Canal (last part)
We are now heading back to Laggan to conclude our journey on the Caledonian Canal. It is going to be the same route, but a different experience. Mainly because the weather will be different! Our first stop will be the infamous Urquhart Harbour where we had that mooring hassle a few nights back. Looking forward to it! The trip down to Loch Ness from Inverness went quite quickly, the weather overcast and windless. No rain. The Urquhart Harbour presented no gremlins this time around and we neatly parked the vessel at the dock. All the onboard crew congratulated themselves several times over and wondered why it was so hard the first time.
The main attraction in this area are the ruins of the medieval Urquhart Castle. The Castle is situated on a headland jutting out into Loch Ness, it would have been an imposing sight in its hey day. We stepped ashore here and had a look around the ruins and notice boards explaining life in the castle. It was blown up by the Jacobites in order to prevent it’s use by Government forces. Later in the day we went into Doumnadrochit to investigate the Nessie Centre, the asking price for entry was a bit rich. So we bypassed it and headed into the small town for a look see and some refreshments.
After humming around for awhile and Homealone getting rather peckish we managed to contact the Clansman Hotel. They immediately sent their driver to pick us up (he was later to return us to the boat) and we headed back for dinner in their dining room overlooking Loch Ness. By this time the sun was out and it was a great view as the sun started setting. Excellent meal as well.
Setting off the next morning the objective was to reach Port Augustus in time to go up the locks. The weather had improved significantly and we had patchy sunshine as we traversed Loch Ness. We kept our eyes peeled for a Nessie sighting, but no, it was not to be seen. We concluded that some distant bow wave ripples might pass off for a sighting, so a number of photos were taken for later processing and investigation.
We made it in time for what was probably the last locking for the day at Fort Augustus. As we were down two crew Homealone volunteered to act as the 2nd mule for walking the boat through. This time around it was up the locks rather than down. Technique the same. We made it without any dramas and settled in for the night, ready for a quick getaway the next morning.
We headed off for Laggan the next morning in simply great weather, sunny, nice blue sky with some puffy clouds. Calm waters and a light a light breeze greeted us on Loch Oich and we slowly trailed behind some sail boats with their sales aloft. We cruised past the ruins of Invergarry Castle and the Hotel where we had enjoyed lunch and dinner a few days back. Our last stretch before the Laggan Locks was the magnificent so called ‘Laggan Avenue’, a narrow section of canal lined by pine trees.
After a short cruise out into Loch Lochie for a last look we returned to the Le Boat base. We stayed the night there and disembarked the next morning, handed the boat back, settled our account and took our pre booked taxi back to Fort William. The Watts were leaving us here and taking the train back to Glasgow for their flights home to Australia. It had been a memorable ten days on the Canal, with much to remember and recall with them and the Nielsens in a few weeks time.
For now though we settled into the Imperial Hotel for a couple of nights to regroup for the next stage of our journey in Scotland; over the sea to Skye.