The Caledonian Canal isn’t just a fantastic feat of engineering, it’s also a great place for short walks in Scotland.
The Dochgarroch Loop is one of the most popular circular routes. The walk starts and ends at Tomnahurich Bridge in Inverness, Scotland. Suitable for all abilities, you can walk, run or cycle the 7.5 mile canal paths.
Or, you can walk in the opposite direction towards Clachnaharry. This is a popular Caledonian Canal Walk taking you to Caley Marina, where you’ll spot boats of all sizes, including the ‘Lord of the Glens’, the largest boat to sail on the Caledonian Canal. You could even stop off at Merkinch Nature Reserve or head for Clachnaharry Lock for some breath-taking photo opportunities. The whole walk is just under 5 miles and will take about 1.5 hours, but you can take a shortcut and cross the Canal at Muirtown swing bridge if you’re in a bit of a hurry.
Your walk starts at the swing bridge leading towards Dochgarroch Lock. Begin your adventure on the towpath after taking advantage of free parking at the nearby rugby pitches. Look out for the original bridge keeper’s house, today used as a holiday home.
There’s plenty to see on this Caledonian Canal Walk, whatever you’re into. There’s always lots of activity happening on the water, as well as birds and other small wildlife to spot. As you stroll along the towpath, you’ll see the River Ness on your left and the canal on your right. It’s around four miles to Dochgarroch.
Walking in Scotland is a great activity for all ages, so pack a picnic and bring the kids with you on a sunny afternoon! Once you reach Dochgarroch, you can watch the boats at the locks, relax and have lunch in the picnic area. When it’s time to head back, just cross over the lock gates. The path on the other side is level and a great spot for cycling. You can rent bikes for both children and adults at a number of shops in the city centre.
From Tomnahurich Bridge you can also go in the opposite direction along the Canal all the way to the sea lock at Clachnaharry, where the boats that have come through the Canal go out to sea. Start the walk on the same side of the Canal as the old bridge keeper’s house and walk along the towpath towards Muirtown locks – the path is level and suitable for walkers of all abilities as well as cyclists.
There is lots to see along the way – the towpath takes you past Caley Marina, Muirtown locks, Muirtown swing bridge and Muirtown basin. You are guaranteed to see boats of all shapes and sizes moored at Caley Marina and Muirtown basin, from small sailing boats to barges and the largest vessel to sail the Caledonian Canal, the “Lord of the Glens”. Before you reach the sea lock you will have to cross a railway line, so be very careful! After Muirtown basin you will see a waymarker to “Merkinch Nature Reserve” – this is well worth a visit, but we will leave it until another time!
At Clachnaharry sea lock you have reached the very end of the Caledonian Canal, where boats can sail out into the Moray Firth and ultimately the North Sea. This is a very picturesque spot, don’t forget your camera/phone!
Walk across the lock gates to return to Tomnahurich on the opposite side of the Canal. As you walk along Muirtown basin, keep an eye out on your right for the famous Titanic model!
As you pass Caley Marina on your way back, have a look at the lovely cabin cruisers at “Caley Cruisers” – you can hire them for a long weekend or longer to sail along the Caledonian Canal as far as Banavie near Fort William, a great way of discovering the whole of the famous Canal! If you’re not feeling brave enough to skipper your own boat just yet, Jacobite offer short trips from Tomnahurich Bridge, the start/finish point of your walk.
Want to find out more about these Caledonian Canal walks? Just get in touch with us today for routes, maps and advice.Contact Us
Find accommodation, tours, attractions, events and restaurants to help you plan your trip