A Great Place for Close Encounters with Red Squirrels, Pine Martens and other Highland Wildlife
A pleasant short circular walk along the towpath of the Caledonian Canal to Moy Bridge, returning along a minor road (B8004). The route along the canal follows the Great Gen Way.
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 (including a staircase- Neptune’s Staircase at Banavie), 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, Gairlochy Lighthouse, visited on this walk, is dated 1932.
The Canal affords fine views of the River Lochy with its shingle banks and islands on route. The River Lochy, 15 km in length, flows south from Loch Lochy into Loch Linnhe.
The sides of the canal are lined with birch, alder, hazel, ash, oak, beech, Scot’s pine, holly and rowan, and include some fine specimen trees.
The Bridge Keeper Cottage and Moy Bridge are both scheduled monuments. Moy Bridge is an original hand operated cast iron painted swing bridge, which swings in two halves.
The return walk along the road initially affords some good distant views of the Caledonian Canal and River Lochy. The road is variously fringed with birch and alder woodland.
Park in the lay-by on the B8004, by the turning to Loch Arkaig, and near the swing bridge across the Caledonian Canal.
Cross the swing bridge and then turn left to access the towpath, passing through a metal gateway, adjacent to a telephone box, post box and house.
Pass by Gairlochy Top Loch and the British Waterways Board (BWB) mooring facility and onto Gairlochy Lighthouse, a scheduled monument. Take time to admire the stunning views on route. There is a bench affording fine views over Loch Lochy.
Return by the same route and continue on through the metal gate to join the Great Glen Way, along the towpath, passing by BWB hut and flood loch.
Continue on the towpath until you reach Moy Bridge and the Keeper’s Cottage, where there an interpretation board on the construction and operation of the swing bridge and picnic bench.
At Moy Bridge, cross over the canal and turn right and follow the path that eventually leads way from the canal. Alternatively return by the same route.
There is an option to visit a small old graveyard by following the signposts before heading towards the hills.
Pass through a metal gate and through the farmyard (Moy Farm) and onto the road. Turn right and ascend along the road.
Keep right at the junction and descend towards the lay-by from where you started the walk.
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