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In Oban our main objective was to complete some chores – engine oil change, laundry (lots), etc & some provisioning. The latter meant a trip on the marina’s ferry across the channel to Oban, a very civilised way of shopping.
Wed 24th July.
A mid morning departure from Kerrera, mostly motoring (light winds) with
some on/off interludes of sailing.
Various birds, terns, black guillemots, gannets sitting on the
water. Late morning we were in the steep
sided sea loch Linne with pretty villages clinging to the sides, high mountains
either side & ferries crossing at the narrowest points. There were more yachts about & around tea
time we were outside the sea lock at Corpach waiting for the tide to make so we
could enter the
The next 6 days (25th to 30th July) we
spent traversing the Caledonian canal from west to east. The first day a great deal of time went on
traversing the first locks & then the famous ‘
Quite hard work controlling the boats on lines as the water rushes in, & quite a tourist attraction. It also chose that time to rain steadily.
The second day we caught a local train from Banavie, the
station at the bottom of the staircase (we walked down), to the pretty fishing
We returned to Banavie by bus as the times suited us better,
but as part of the bus route was closer to the coast we had more nice views
& felt we’d had the best of both options.
We were back in time to move the boat from a ‘borrowed’ space (thank you
McCavity) to anchor in Loch Locky off
Saturday we left Loch Lochy for another bit of canal & more locks, then tied to a jetty & took the bikes along the canalside trail to look at the Well of 7 heads (clan wars) & the ruined Invergarry castle.
We aborted plans to go further as that would have been on
the main A82 which was exceedingly busy, & not bike friendly. Sunday dawned wet, very wet. We togged up & carried on, through the
swing bridge into Loch Oich past the places we had cycled to yesterday (a good
thing as with the rain there was no great appeal in re-visiting them), another
bridge, more locks – we are over the summit now - & on to Fort
Augustus. This small town on the
After a wait (lockkeepers lunch break & the rain also
stopped) we went down the flight - again providing a great tourist
attraction. In Loch Ness we checked out
one anchorage which was way too deep, another with not enough space &
finally anchored in
Next morning we took the dinghy ashore & went round the
castle, then across the Loch to the
We moved on into the smaller narrower loch Dochfour &
just as that became canal the river
Tuesday another swingbridge & then another flight of 4
locks, the Muirtown staircase, on the outskirts of
To date we have logged 48.3 nm in the canal with a couple still to go before we are through the sea lock.
Wed 31st July.
A prompt start to the penultimate lock which operates in conjunction
with a swing rail bridge. It was a
lovely clear day & the scenery was breathtaking. Once through there was just the final sea
lock at Clachnaharry to go then we were in the open sea, well the
I should say that all along the Caledonian the lockkeepers were consistently polite, helpful, friendly & smiling despite the weather & their customers muddles.
We passed under the mighty Kessock bridge & were sailing
by 9.15am with the genny poled out. Down
the Firth we passed the outskirts of Inverness, & entrance to the river
34.9 nm & we have passed our most northerly point this trip.
The Harbour Master had efficiently left us a key & welcome pack as promised so we were able to go & explore the town.
We had not intended to move on on thursday (1st
Aug) because of the wind forecast. It
also turned out wet, so we caught a bus to
Having strolled the medieval town centre we visited the little museum, with its medley of exhibits including a shrunken head & a mummy.
Fri 2nd Aug. A prompt start & sailing as soon as we cleared the harbour. Just cracked off, quick & quite a big swell. Mid morning the weather started a game with us – wind up & down in strength, switches of direction, sometimes needing the engine on. At 10am it rose so we put the first reef in, 20 mins later we were motoring & so it continued & although it kept us on our toes it made for exciting sailing. At 11.30am we reached Whitehills, another small port with, this time, a right angle turn (narrow) into the shelter of the harbour. 22.8 nm.
We did our usual recce of the town.
Saturday (3rd Aug) was another day we had planned not to sail because of the forecast strong winds, so we took the bikes on quite a hilly route (national cycle route 1) west back to Portsoy, a very small & picturesque port (but not deep enough for us).
We then returned past Whitehills to