OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Nothing better than a peaceful night on a mooring bouy.

After hoisting the dinghy onto it’s davits, we set off down Loch Lochy towards the Banavie flight of locks nicknamed Neptunes Staircase. We went through some stunning countryside with Ben Nevis occasionally looming out of it’s cloud mantle ………. just checking we were still there!Ben Nevis keeping an eye on us Ben Nevis keeping an eye on us

The Canal¬†twists and turns along this stretch following the river’s course ……….there was always the worry that we would encounter another ‘Cruise Liner’ on our side of the road around the next bend. On Sunday we thought we were looking at the next lock until we got right round the corner and realized it was the Lord of the Glen steaming straight towards us ……. guess who had to give way.

Lower down the loch we came across a boat moored up which I had to include!

Especially for you Maureen!

Especially for you Maureen!

The lochs are incredibly deep and the water is clear, but with a peaty colour to it.

How deep?!

How deep?!

The lochs are used for hydro-electric power, tourism and fish farming.

The second fish farm we've seen

The second fish farm we’ve seen

We were surprised not to see more fish farms.
As we passed into the final section of the loch we saw a deer close to the canal, totally unphased by a yacht chugging by …… we had to whistle to gain its attention…..perhaps he thought it was a Wolf whistle!

Did he see us? No idea!

Did he see us?
No idea!

The lock keepers close the locks for an hour at lunch time, which is literally a moveable feast depending on how long the last boats took to go through. We arrived at the Gairlochy locks at 1.45, during that lock keeper’s lunch break, so we tied up on the pontoon and took a stroll up to the lock. As we approached I realised it looked familiar………two years ago we came to this lock to look at the Caledonian Canal with the idea that, one day, we would bring our boat through here………. and here we were!!

Waiting at Gairlochy ...... Deja vu?

Waiting at Gairlochy …… Deja vu?

The boat in the foreground is a similar design and size to our last boat, Chandie, which we thought was big!……Island Kea doesn’t fit onto the pontoon and we were sticking out at the back.

Once through the lock it was a short stretch to Neptune’s Staircase. As we were approaching the wind picked up and, without the bow thruster, the next mooring up to a waiting pontoon proved to be entertaining! I managed to pull in perfectly to get Ian ashore, but the instant he set foot on the jetty, the wind took the boat away and poor Ian was left with both lines……..unable to cleat either off, he was being stretched in both directions. We aborted the attempt and the Captain took the helm for the second approach …….. success! The trick is to use a centre line and power against it as a spring……. something which we normally do, but somehow forgot!

A rare sight .........Marcus the deck hand

A rare sight ………Marcus the deck hand

Marcus still busy with the lines!

Marcus still busy with the lines!

Happy crew

Happy crew

And so ……. on into the Benavie locks. There are 8 locks that form the staircase. We put Dawn and Ian ashore to take the lines that control the boat on the descent. We were the last boat through for the day, so had the locks to ourselves. This meant that it was easy to move through between locks and Dawn and Ian could walk the lines on, avoiding the tourists who wanted to take their photos of a boat going through the locks.

Ian about to lower us down

Ian about to lower us down

Dawn waving at Steve from the top of Neptune's Staircase

Dawn waving to Steve from the top of Neptune’s Staircase

In the bottom lock, waiting for the bridges to open

In the bottom lock, waiting for the bridges to open

Got the shot........now to get back on the boat!

Got the shot……..now to get back on the boat!

Once at the bottom, we moored for the night beyond the road and rail swingbridges, looking up at the Staircase and just 20 yards from a pub……result!!

Our mooring for the night

Our mooring for the night

Needless to say we visited the hostelry and played pool………Marcus and Dawn 4 – Ian and Margie 0! Then on to The Moorings Hotel to pay too much for too little………food and service. Then back to the boat for one of the Captain’s Winter Warmers.

.......and for you Sir?

…….and for you Sir?

1 Comment

  1. Looking great! Scotland looks beautiful. Sun is shining here too, for a change. X

You must be logged in to leave a reply.