Archive For The “Europe” Category

Caledonian Canal Day 3: Dochgarroch to Fort Augustus via Loch Ness

Caledonian Canal Day 3: Dochgarroch to Fort Augustus via Loch Ness

Loch Ness is one of the top three tourist destinations in Scotland, along with Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye. Second to Nessie, a major draw of Loch Ness is 13th-century Urquhart Castle. One of the largest castles in Scotland, Urquhart attracted some 400,000 visitors in 2016. On our third day in the Caledonian Canal,…

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Caledonian Canal Day 2: Muirtown Basin to Dochgarroch

Caledonian Canal Day 2: Muirtown Basin to Dochgarroch

We passed through the four-lock Muirtown flight at the start of our second day in the Caledonian Canal, then cruised the scenic waterway alongside, but above, the River Ness en route to Dochgarroch. Our total travel distance was five miles in three hours for an average speed of just over 1.5kts. The locks take up…

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Caledonian Canal Day 1: Clachnaharry Sea Lock to Muirtown Basin

Caledonian Canal Day 1: Clachnaharry Sea Lock to Muirtown Basin

The Caledonian Canal extends 50 nautical miles southwest from Beauly Firth near Inverness to Loch Linnhe by Fort William. Only 19 miles of the canal are man-made and the rest extends through four natural freshwater lochs, including the famous Loch Ness. Along the way are 10 swing bridges and 29 locks, achieving a maximum elevation…

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Inverness

Inverness

Inverness was a great stop before our trip down the Caledonian Canal. In our last few days there we toured the beautiful Ness Islands and more of the canal by bike, stocked up on provisions, and got some local knowledge on cruising the canal from Paisley residents Pamela and Neil White. Below are trip highlights…

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Kyle of Lochalsh

Kyle of Lochalsh

Picturesque Eilean Donan Castle, linked to the mainland with an elegant stone bridge, is one of Scotland’s most photographed castles. The castle was built in the 13th century and restored in the 19th after it was destroyed during the 18th-century Jacobite rebellions. We took the scenic train ride from Inverness to the Kyle of Lochalsh,…

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First View to the Caledonian Canal

First View to the Caledonian Canal

Our plan to return to southern Scotland via the Caledonian Canal was put together while we were still in Daytona, Florida in February of this year. So we’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. Since the canal is only a short distance from Inverness, we took the bikes over for a preview…

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Inverness Arrival

Inverness Arrival

Inverness, founded around the 12th century, is the capital city of the Scottish Highlands and a gateway to the Caledonian Canal. We arrived after an easy three-hour run from Cromarty Firth, and spent a great afternoon exploring this historic town along the River Ness. Below are highlights from October 7th, 2018 in northern Scotland. Click…

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Cromarty Firth

Cromarty Firth

Following an early-morning departure from the Orkney Islands, we rode the current south to Cromary Firth and found ourselves in an oil rig graveyard. With oil prices declining over the past few years, many North Sea oil companies have reduced production and towed some rigs to the protected harbor at Cromarty Firth. Some have a…

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St. Margaret’s Hope

St. Margaret’s Hope

St. Margaret’s Hope is the terminus for the fast ferry Pentalina between mainland Scotland and the Orkney Islands. The bay also is an excellent anchorage, with plenty of swing room, good wind protection and convenient bus access to the towns of Kirkwall and Stromness. We very much enjoyed the anchorage, especially after the ordeal of…

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Stromness

Stromness

Stromness, on Mainland in the Orkney Islands, was once a major provisioning stop for Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) ships heading to and from Canada, and a major source of labour for the company. By the late eighteenth century, three quarters of the HBC’s Canadian workforce were from the Orkney Islands. The town has real character,…

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Neolithic Orkney

Neolithic Orkney

The Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of four prehistoric monuments dating to some 5,000 years ago. They include the ancient settlement of Skara Brae, the Maeshowe chambered tomb, and two ceremonial stone circles: the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar. After freeing our ensnarled anchor at Widewall Bay,…

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St. Mary’s Bay

St. Mary’s Bay

In October of 1939, the German U-boat U-47 crept into Scapa Flow through Kirk Sound and sunk the British battleship Royal Oak. To protect Scapa Flow, Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, ordered the construction of barriers across the eastern side of Scapa Flow. 66,000 locally cast concrete blocks were dropped onto a…

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Scapa Flow Museum

Scapa Flow Museum

Scapa Flow, a large bay in the center of the Orkney Islands, was the base for the British Fleet during the two World Wars. The former Royal Navy base at Lyness now is the Scapa Flow Visitor Center and Museum, covering the history of the area and it’s use as a naval base, plus lots…

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Longhope

Longhope

The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) is an amazing life-saving group. They are supported by donations, and most of those out there risking their lives in maritime rescues are volunteers. The RNLI serves the UK and Ireland, and operates in some very difficult sea conditions. The Longhope RNLI station on Hoy Island in the Orkney…

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Orkney Islands Arrival

Orkney Islands Arrival

The currents around the Orkney Islands are among the swiftest in Great Britain. Currents in the Pentland Firth separating the islands from mainland Scotland can reach nine knots on spring tides and powerful tide rips form on the west-bound current, particularly in an opposing wind. We had lovely, calm conditions on our overnight run from…

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St. Kilda

St. Kilda

Historic St. Kilda is on the edge of the edge. Lying 40nm west of the Outer Hebrides, the archipelago has no all-weather anchorage and is exposed to the full force of Atlantic storms. The islands are the first Scottish UNESCO World-Heritage Site and Scotland’s only Natural World Heritage site. The dramatic scenery there is enough…

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