Caledonian Canal

Caledonian Canal
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Caledonian Canal

Linking Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness, the Caledonian Canal forms a waterway through the Great Glen that provides a safer and shorter route to the north of Scotland than navigating coastal route via The Minch and Pentland Firth.

Built by the engineer Thomas Telford (1757 - 1834), it was opened in October 1822. Between Fort William and the Canal's northern terminus at Clachnaharry just west of Inverness, there are 29 locks, the most famous being a flight of eight at Banavie, known as Neptune's Staircase. Reconstructed in the 1840s, the canal's locks were mechanised in the 1960s. The total length of the canal, which comprises 38 miles (61 km) of natural lochs and 22 miles (35 km) of canal cuttings is 60 miles (96 km). The summit level at Loch Oich is 32m (106 feet).

Since 2012, the Caledonian Canal has been owned and operated by Scottish Canals, an arm of the Scottish Government. Ownership had passed to the British Transport Commission on nationalisation in 1948, to British Waterways in 1963 and Scottish Canals in 2012.

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