Lining through the Locks

The lock keepers on the Caledonian Canal may sometimes allow rafted canoes to pass through the single locks at Cullochy, Kytra and Dochgarroch (if paddling west to east) and at South Laggan (if paddling east to west).  As the Scottish Outdoor Access Code excludes access to lock chambers Scottish Canals' normal licence fees will apply for unpowered craft lining through, and licences should be purchased from either Sea Lock before setting off on your trip.

There are some conditions you need to follow when lining through the lock gates.

  • The group leader must ask the local lock keeper if it is possible to line their canoe through the lock chamber and gain permission to do so. (You may be required to show your registration form and your canal licence)
  • Canoe rafts should then be set up in the time frame set by the lock keeper to ensure other waterway traffic is not delayed.
  • All canoes in the raft should be tied together securely using painter at both the bow and stern of the canoe raft. Clipping a line onto both the bow and stern on the middle canoe within the raft will help move the canoe raft into the chamber and help to control the raft as the water level drops. (Two throw bags of approx 20m are suitable for each raft of two to four canoes)
  • Please obey any instructions given by the lock keeper to help speed up the locking process.
  • If a group of sea kayaks is given permission to line throw the lock chamber, a rope should be passed under and secured on both bow and stern deck cords to ensure a stable platform is created.
  • No one should be on the raft during lining through the lock chamber. All loose items should be removed from the raft and any baggage and items within should be tied down. This prevents loss of valuables and saves time if there is a capsize.
  • Two paddlers from the group (wearning buoyancy aids) should control the lines from the side of the lock chamber while the rest of the group keeps a safe distance from the edge of the lock chamber

There are various reasons why lining may not be possible;

  • Priority must always be given to those motor craft and sailing boats who pay handsomely to navigate through the Caledonian Canal. The lock keeper may have other responsibilities to tend to in the local area and will not operate the lock unless a paying motor craft needs to go through.
  • If a canoe group is not ready in time, the lock keeper may decline permission to line through the lock chamber to keep the waterway traffic moving. For operational reasons the local Waterway Supervisor or Waterway Manager may suspend the right to line canoes through the single lock chambers.
Trail Map

Trail Guide Map

map of scotland showing the trail

60 miles in 5 days

It is an epic 60 mile (95km) journey crossing Scotland in 5 days and conquering the formidable open waters of Loch Lochy and Loch Ness, a challenge in itself.

From South to North

It is normally easier to paddle the Trail from Fort William in the west to Inverness in the east with the prevailing wind behind you.

Download the map