A Great Place for Close Encounters with Red Squirrels, Pine Martens and other Highland Wildlife
The walk starts at the lower loch at Corpach (Corpach Sea Loch), at the foot of the Caledonian Canal and heads along the towpath to Neptune’s Staircase. The route returns on the towpath on the opposite side of the canal
The Caledonian Canal is a 62 mile long waterway between Corpach in the West Highlands and Inverness in the East. Twenty-two miles of man-made canal link the four natural sea lochs of Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, Loch Ness and Loch Dochfour along the Great Glen. The canal was constructed in the early nineteenth century by Thomas Telford, and took two decades to complete. It consists of 29 lochs, four aqueducts and ten bridges, and was opened in 1822. It is a scheduled ancient monument and is regarded as one of the great waterways of the world. There were originally 32 navigational lights on route, Corpach Lighthouse, visited on this walk, dates from 1913. Neptune’s staircase consists eight of hydraulically operated lochs. It is one of the longest staircases in the UK and raises boats to a height of 20 metres from the sea level to continue their journey on the Caledonian Canal from Corpach to Inverness.
There are some lovely views of Ben Nevis and Loch Linnhe at the start of the walk. Look out for the passing of the Harry Potter Express at Banavie.
Initially the towpath is fringed with some fine specimen sycamore trees intermixed with ash, oak, birch, larch, Scot’s pine, beech and hawthorn. The towpath on the return route is fringed with birch and willow woodland, interspersed with oak, rowan and gorse, with rough pasture beyond. There are some fine views of the hills of Ardgour on your return journey.
There are still interesting interpretation boards on route describing the geology and flora of Ben Nevis and the construction and operation of Neptune’s Staircase. There is also a gift shop serving hot drinks and the Moorings Hotel serving food by Neptune’s Staircase
Look out for dabbling and diving duck, herons, geese and swans along the canal. Scan the sky for raptors and the woodland fringes for a range of woodland specialists and migrants.
A very pleasant canal side walk with stunning views of the Nevis Range and the hills of Ardgour. The walk provides a great opportunity to learn more about the construction and operation of the canal system and the surrounding landscape with reference to the interpretation boards on route. A lovely walk for the canal and wildlife enthusiast alike.
Park in car park by the station and canal at Corpach. Start the walk at Corpach Sea Loch, taking time to explore the lighthouse and former storehouse and workshop, now serving as a useful information point.
Cross the loch gates and head up the Caledonian Canal on the gravelled towpath, passing by some picnic benches.
Continue passed Corpach Double Loch on the Great Glen Way (Inverness) with good views afforded of the Nevis Range.
Pass by the village of Coal. Soon Neptune’s Staircase comes into view.
At Banavie, take care when crossing the railway line and then the road (A830). The towpath continues by Neptune's Staircase.
At the top loch, cross the loch and head back to Corpach, passing by the Moorings Hotel and car park to Neptune’s Staircase with some interpretation boards.
Cross the road and railway swing bridge again and continue on the opposite side of the towpath from your outbound route.
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