Great Glen Open Canoe Expeditions

Great Glen Open Canoe Expeditions

orem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation
Great Glen Open Canoe Expedition Mountain Water Expeditions

The Great Glen coast to coast canoe expedition takes in short sections of the Caledonian Canal to link Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness.  This expedition will see you paddling from the west coast to the east coast of Scotland navigating these magnificent waterways.

Over the course of this trip you may have to contend with big waves, mirror calm waters and some exhilarating sailing, such is the nature of the ever-changing Great Glen. Over the five days we will use the Great Glen Loch side campsites and some of the wilder traveller’s rest areas to rest up overnight.

During this expedition, expert coaching will be provided to help develop your open canoe paddling skills.  Depending on wind conditions, we may also be able to sail the canoes.

We aim to finish the expedition in Inverness, again dependent on weather conditions. It is possible to return to Corpach or Fort William by public bus service.  On the final day we will get off the water at approximately 2pm with the ability to be back in Corpach by approximately  5pm.

Over the course of the journey the expedition will allow you to build the skills and confidence to go and have your own canoeing adventures.  We will cover all elements of canoe journeying via a wild camping journey through lochs.

This will include planning, paddling skills, safety and rescue, navigation, camp craft, cookery, portaging, lining and incident management. The Great Glen is a hidden gem, accessible and yet with a truly remote feel far away from the noise of traffic and light pollution.


Five days paddling from Banavie (1km from Corpach) to Inverness.

The trip is very weather dependent and there maybe times that we have to end our crossing at other places on the Great Glen due to the safety of the group participants. If this is the case, there is a very good local bus service that runs between Fort William and Inverness so all participants can still catch their train or bus back home.

Great Glen Canoe Trail Overview

DofE Gold Residential Mountain Water Expeditions

Day 1 – Banavie to Gairlochy
(The west end of Loch Lochy)

You’ll meet your guide in Banavie (in the carpark for Neptune’s Staircase) just up from the sea locks at Corpach on west coast of Scotland where you’ll start your canoeing adventure. The calm waters of the Caledonian Canal are the perfect way to warm up and get used to adventure ahead. Camp for the night at Gairlochy, overlooking the stunning Loch Lochy.

Day 2 – Loch Lochy – Gairlochy Locks to Laggan Locks

Today you’ll travel onto the open water of Loch Lochy the second largest loch of the trip. The highland backdrop of rolling hills will mesmerise you on the day’s paddle. The campsite for the night is at Laggan Locks.

Day 3 – Laggan Locks to Fort Augustus

Today sees a great variety of canoeing. Firstly, on the calm waters of the Caledonian Canal, then navigate your way to the peaceful Loch Oich where you can explore some of the wooded bays and secluded shores. You’ll end the day with a portage around the canal locks at Fort Augustus. During the portage, you’ll be gifted with the first glimpse of the majestic Loch Ness.

Day 4 – Loch Ness

Your first day on Loch Ness is spectacular. Framed by highland mountains this loch is steeped in myth, legend and history. Soak up the atmosphere before camping on the shores, enjoying dinner at your camping spot. Don’t forget to keep a watchful eye out for Nessie.

Day 5 – Loch Ness to Dochgarroch Lock

We normally aim to finish the trip at Dochgarroch Lock. These locks are a 15min local bus ride from Inverness which has a main line train station and wider bus links, or you can catch the bus back to the starting point at Corpach or stay on to Fort William train station. (Scottish City Link, 919, Inverness – Fort William).

Canoe Based Skill and Safety:

  • Efficient paddle strokes for travelling
  • Efficient turning and control strokes
  • The ability to work as a team in a boat
  • Decision making on open water
  • Understanding weather and, in particular, wind and fetch
  • Improvised sailing
  • Rafting canoes
  • Dealing with a capsize
  • Deep water rescue techniques
  • Packing a canoe and adjusting its trim
  • The merits of different packing systems in different circumstances
  • A introduction into the art of portaging (a true wilderness skill)
  • Lining

Campcraft, Cookery and Expedition Skills:

  • Choosing and organising your campsite
  • Expedition/group tarp systems and knots
  • Choosing cookery equipment for canoe journeys
  • Choosing food and devising menus for canoe trips
  • Campfire cookery
  • Everyday wilderness axe skills
  • Personal equipment for canoe journeys
  • Emergency equipment for canoe journeys (and how to use it)


Camping by the loch side – four nights.   There will be toilet and warm showering facilities available on most nights.

Canoeing Standard
This expedition is suitable for those with little canoeing experience as well as experienced paddlers who prefer a guided trip. Please note that there will be some portaging on this expedition.

Meeting Place

We will meet at Corpach lock on the first morning of the expedition where there is ample car parking. 

Trip Dates

Group or Family bookings only, please enquire for further detailsGreat Glen Canoe ExpeditionCorpach£545.00 pp

How to pay

Choose to pay by PayPal or email for booking information and to pay by BACS

What we include

  • A single point of contact at Mountain Water Expeditions to provide you with consistent support throughout your experience.
  • Pre information pack with lots of helpful advice, kit lists etc
  • Camping fees for the expedition
  • Use of group kit (free of charge – see below)
  • Supervision from experienced and helpful coaches
  • Waterproof Rucksack / Barrel (if needed)
  • Rucksack liners (if needed)
  • All relevant canoeing and safety equipment
  • Food (see FAQ below)

Group / Shared Kit
We provide the following essential group kit free of charge:

  • Tent (If needed)
  • Stoves, pans and fuel
  • Access to guides and mapping

What we do not include

  • Transport to and from the starting point
  • Personal kit and accident insurance
  • Items of personal expedition kit that are not mentioned above for example sleeping bags, sleeping mats, waterproof clothing, wetsuit boots etc
  • Any fees payable to British Canoeing for any British Canoeing award obtained


What is the total distance paddled?

The total distance is around 100km.

Each day you will paddle for up to 6/7 hours at a moderate pace, with plenty of breaks along the way.

What experience/fitness level do I need?

You don’t need any paddling experience to enjoy this adventure – the guides are great at making it enjoyable for all abilities.

You’ll need a moderate level of fitness. The canoeing is up to 6/7 hours of paddling each day, with plenty of breaks along the way. 


Whilst doing adventurous activities, it’s important to carry enough water and stay hydrated. We strongly recommend taking between two and three litres of water. Your guide can give you advice on where to get water each day.


The guides work hard to use great quality, local produce where possible to prepare fantastic meals for you. Here are some examples of what you can expect:

Food on your trip is included as follows:

  • Day 1:  Dinner
  • Day 2 – 4: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Day 5: Breakfast

If you have any food restrictions (vegetarian, vegan, gluten intolerance etc) please make us aware.

How many people will I share a canoe with?

The guides and clients use tandem canoes that you’ll share with one other person.

What’s the weather like?

High Season (Jun – Sep)

June to Sept can be warm, with daytime temperatures ranging from 10 – 25 degrees Celsius. There can be some rain.

The weather in the mountains can be quite unpredictable and weather situations can change very quickly. Therefore, it is necessary to always be prepared for such a change.

Will I need spending money?

There will be times that you’ll pass by shops. On the third night, you’ll camp next to the highland town of Fort Augustus where there will be shopping opportunities.

How do we keep our things dry?

Mountain Water Expeditions will supply dry bags to keep everything nice and dry! Each person will have one large 60 litre drybag for their own personal use.

Can the itinerary change?

Sometimes the weather can deem an activity unfeasible for a set period of time. If this is the case, then your guide will offer an appropriate alternative. Examples are as follows:

  • The itinerary in reverse. The trip is much more enjoyable when you are not battling against the wind. 

What should I bring? (Full equipment list is below)

On this trip we believe that to give you a quality experience, you need to be comfortable.

You’ll be provided with:

  • Tent (If needed)
  • Stoves, pans and fuel
  • Access to guides and mapping

You’ll need to bring:

  • Sleeping bag* (3 season is best)
  • Lunch box (to keep food through the day)
  • Sleep mat*
  • Waterproofs* (Jacket and Trousers)
  • Outdoor clothing for wearing when your on the water 
  • Spare clothing for wearing in camp or if you have an out of boat experience
  • Shoes for on the water
  • Shoes for camp
  • Toiletries
  • Torch
  • Midge net and spray
  • Sun protection
  • Personal medication
  • Camera

British Canoeing Qualifications

There is a possibility that on this training course you will be able to achieve certain British Canoeing Personal Performance awards along with certain elements of the British Canoeing Guide award.

Your coaching/instruction for the above awards is covered within you course fee you will however be required to pay the additional costs associated with the certificate and providers fees which are payable to British Canoeing.

For further information or to book a place on this Great Glen open canoe expedition please email

Why choose Mountain Water Expeditions?

Who we are – The Team

We are a teacher lead organisation who understand the current demands places upon school staff who want to get their young people out into the outdoors.

Our coaches / instructors are highly experienced outdoor professionals coming from a variety of backgrounds. This wealth of experience enables us to cater for individuals, groups and national companies when delivering our programmes and activities.

Quality of Service

Customer service and attention to detail matter to us. Our experienced, friendly team are passionate about being outside and want you to gain as much as possible from your time with us. We do the planning for you, so you have a safe and enjoyable trip. Your safety is our highest priority and Mountain Water Expeditions has a perfect safety record. We are happy to answer as many questions as you may have about your trip.


Safety is at the forefront of everything we do. Mountain Water Expeditions has taken all necessary steps to ensure that our expedition programmes provide an appropriate challenge for participants without compromising on safety.


The Adventurous Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) is the body which regulates adventurous activities in the UK. It is a government body and part of the Health and Safety Executive. Mountain Water Expeditions is licensed by AALA to provide;

Mountain Water Expeditions AALA

Activity categories covered by the licence:

  • Climbing
    • Watersports
    • Trekking

Specified Activities:

  • Abseiling
  • Coasteering – (At specified venues. Summer conditions only)
  • Gorge Scrambling – (At specified venues. Summer conditions only)
  • Hill Walking & Mountaineering – (Including roped scrambling)
  • Improvised Rafting – (Sheltered Inland Waters. Summer conditions only)
  • Kayaking – (Including sea kayaking and kayak surfing)
  • Open Canoeing
  • Rock Climbing
  • Sea Level Traversing – (At specified venues. Summer conditions only)

Our licence number is Reference Number is R2213, details of our licence

Reference No: R2213 Licence No: L22926 Issue Date: 22 Sep 2020 Expiry Date: 22 Sep 2023

Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) – Quality Badge

Mountain Water Expeditions has been awarded the LOtC Quality Badge by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom. This badge provides for the first time a national award combining the essential elements of provision – learning and safety – into one easily recognisable and trusted accreditation scheme for all types of learning outside the classroom provider organisations. Our quality badge number is R2Q104621, details of our licence can be confirmed by calling the LOtC on 01479 811448.

Adventure Mark – AAIAC

Mountain Water Expeditions has been accredited by Adventuremark which is a non- statutory safety accreditation scheme devised by the Adventure Activity Industry Advisory Committee for providers of adventurous activities.

Adventuremark allows Mountain Water Expeditions to demonstrate to our customers and users that the relevant arrangements for managing the potential risks of adventure activities which have been inspected and found to meet the AAIAC provider accreditation standards which define “good practice” in the adventure activity industry. All providers

who hold Adventuremark will have undergone an inspection to confirm compliance.

DofE Approved (Expedition section for ALL three levels of the award & Gold Residential)

Mountain Water Expeditions is a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Approved Activity Provider. We work closely with DofE head office and DofE operating authorities across the country to ensure our programmes fulfil the DofE expedition requirements.


We utilise the latest technology to ensure our groups have a safe and enjoyable expedition experience. We have a stock of Personal Locator Beacons which we issue to groups undertaking expeditions in remote areas.


Our real strength is our fantastic team of instructors. They are all fully qualified and have the necessary experience to deliver the activities we have available. Each instructor holds

the National Governing Body qualifications appropriate for the activity you employ us to deliver.

First Aid

All of our instructors are qualified first aiders and have attended activity specific courses to enable them to deal efficiently with any situation that may arise.

Enhanced Disclosure and Barring (DBS) checks

As part of our child protection policy all our instructors and office staff have Enhanced Disclosure and Barring (DBS) checks. These are renewed every three years.


We are fully insured to deliver training and expeditions through BAHIS. We hold a public liability policy which covers up to £10,000,000 and an employer’s liability policy.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award provides limited personal accident insurance cover for participants see for more details.

We strongly recommend participants take additional insurance to cover cancellation and curtailment as we are not able to offer refunds for participants who are unable to attend or complete training or expeditions. Suitable travel insurance policies are widely available.

Email us today on or call us on 07582 062 257 to discuss your requirements.