This morning we departed a calm and cool Fort Augustus and passed through the locks of Kytra and Cullochy before reaching Loch Oich.
The guests listened to a presentation about Scottish clans and their role in past and present Scotland from our onboard historian, Anna Webster. Many of the guests onboard have ancestral roots, affinity, or other connections to Scotland, and they were keen to hear about the history of Scottish clan culture and its influence in Scotland today. We learned about clan tartans, mottos and crests, and Anna told us about her own Scottish heritage.
We then passed through the Laggan Swing Bridge and followed the water down the narrow, tree-lined Laggan Avenue. The two Laggan Locks lowered us onto Loch Lochy, which we followed onward to the next section of the canal, Gairlochy Locks and the Moy Swing Bridge.
After lunch, we began our descent of Neptune’s Staircase, the longest staircase lock in Britain. It consists of eight locks, each 180 feet by 40 feet, and it takes boats about 90 minutes to pass through the system. Guests gathered on the deck to observe this marvel of engineering.
For our afternoon activity, we had the choice of two different options: we could travel to Glenfinnan or go kayaking on Loch Linnhe. The trip to Glenfinnan appealed to the Harry Potter fans amongst us as the railway viaduct was used during the filming of the movies. It also captured the attention of those with an interest in Scottish history, as Glenfinnan is home to the Jacobite Memorial, a striking 59-foot-high monument commemorating the clansmen who joined Bonnie Prince Charlie on his Jacobite rebellion.
The sunshine sparkling on the loch enticed the rest of us to spend the afternoon on the water. As we paddled, herons flew over us and jellyfish floated under us, and directly ahead, the legendary peak of Ben Nevis cut a dramatic silhouette against the blue sky.
Our head bartender welcomed us back onto Lord of the Glens with one of his delicious creations: hot chocolate and brandy. We gathered in the lounge with our drinks to hear Captain Tony present on the history of the Caledonian Canal and the brilliant engineer behind it all.