scottish-barge-527We cruised along 58 miles of the 60 mile long Caledonian Canal in the luxury barge, The Scottish Highlander.
It was a leisurely trip. The barge travels so slow that you can get off and walk beside it, and it moored up every night.
The Caledonian Canal must be one of the engineering Wonders of the World. It stretches from the Northeast Inverness coast to the Southwestern coast of Corpach.
There are 29 locks, including Neptune’s Staircase; a ladder of eight locks, which raises boats by 70 ft over 500 yards.
scottish-barge-43238 miles are through the Lochs Lochy, Oich, and of course, Loch Ness. The other 22 miles are the man-made canal.
As we sailed slowly along, admiring the unique scenery of the Scottish Highlands, it was hard to believe that a lot of it was dug out by hand! It must have been a dreadful mess for a long time, and there would probably have been a lot of casualties.
The Scottish had suffered terribly at the hands of the English for over 100 years.
During the Highland Clearance, whole farming communities were forced to move from their homes. They were also banned from wearing tartan, playing the bagpipes, and speaking Gaelic.
scottish-barge-195A lot of them emigrated, or moved to the Lowlands, and the abandoned land was used for sheep farming.
The canal was supposed to provide much-needed work in the area, employing over 3,000 people. But there were huge problems with absenteeism, especially during the potato picking and peat digging seasons.
In the end, Thomas Telford, the engineer, had to employ Irish navvies to finish the work, which caused a lot of criticism. And the canal took 12 years longer than scheduled to complete. It had cost £910,000 instead of the estimated £474,000.
The riverbanks we passed were practically empty, apart from the lock keepers’ cottages
scottish-barge-335To my surprise, we didn’t even see a pub!
I wondered what had happened to the shanty towns that must have sprung up while the canal was being constructed. Where were the shops, the restaurants, the managers’ family homes, the bars filled with professional female Camp Followers?
When the railways were built, the temporary towns often developed into permanent sites.
But there was nothing at all beside the canal, unless the gorse and trees had reclaimed the land.
Captain Dan, who has lived in the area all his life, tried to find out for me, with no luck. Not only are there no signs of the former lively life of the canal; I can’t find any drawings or photos either. And no names.
The hard-working men who built this masterpiece have disappeared without trace.
Their amazing work though, is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and develops all the time with the help of British Waterways, and Mother Nature of course!

Useful Information:
Prices for a 6 night cruise aboard the 12 passenger hotel barge ‘Scottish Highlander’ are from £2,450pp in a twin/double en suite cabin, including all meals, wines, an open bar, excursions and local transfers. Charters are also available. European Waterways: Tel: +44 (0) 1753 598555Website: www.gobarging.comLinks:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/European-Waterways-Ltd/78646381842?ref=tn_tnmn
https://twitter.com/#!/GoBarging
http://www.youtube.com/user/EuropeanWaterways?feature=g-all-uWe flew from Gatwick to Inverness with easyjet.
easyJet flies to Inverness from 2 UK airports, with prices starting from £9.49 per person (one-way, including taxes). All flights can be booked at www.easyjet.com For reference, we fly to Inverness from London Gatwick and London Luton.Before the flight, we went in the No 1 Lounge.
Quite honestly, paying to use the Lounge is well-worth it.
You get comfortable seats, a good view, newspapers and magazines, plus a choice of meals and drinks, all included in the price.
In fact, it can work out cheaper than paying for everything separately in Departures!

About Lyn

LYN FUNNELL CV (well, sort of!) Lyn had very successful careers as an Air Hostess, Sales Rep, (she was one of only a couple of women. She beat all the men regularly, becoming the Top Rep in the UK, and 2nd in the world.) And then Catering took over. She did everything from the washing-up, to Silver Service Waitress, and Chef. A few times, she had to cook the meal, dash round the other side and Silver Serve it! In between all this, she wrote as often as she could, building up a reputation as a published short story writer, (Horror and a twist in the tale,) and a Poet. She has appeared as a Performing Poet, and a Demo Chef. Then she discovered the world of the Food & Travel Writer. And that’s what she has continued doing to this day. Her main hobbies are Cookery and entering Competitions. She has won many prizes, including holidays and a moped. She enjoys entering Competitions, submitting her original recipes. She was first in many Competitions, including the Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu, Fruits of France, Bernard Matthews Turkey Recipe, and appeared on BBC’s The One Show Spag Bol contest. She was one of three Finalists, coming 2nd, which makes her Britain’s Spag Bol Queen! Now she runs B-C-ing-U! and loves it! After several years of being messed around by Editors, and having loads of contacts, Lyn formed her own online Magazine, vowing to treat her writers fairly, and to do everything possible to further their careers, publicise their books, etc. She now has a band of excellent regular writers, and the Magazine’s going from strength to strength! Lyn’s online published books; Adverse Camber A collection of my published poems. The First Book of Short Stories The Second Book of Short Stories The Third Book of Short Stories. Many of these stories have been previously published. St Anthony of Padua. The Patron St of the Old. A story of one woman’s terrible ordeal in a Home, and her family’s rescue of her. The Girl Who Watched. A Cuban girl is attacked by an English journalist & what follows! Willy the Whizz & the Wormhole. Suitable for Young Adults, aged 15-95! Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out – Forever! Unsympathetic, hard-hitting, realistic solutions to your problems. All these books are published by Andrews UK Ltd www.andrewsuk.com No, I didn’t pay them to Vanity Publish! They’re all available from Amazon, and many other online publishers. LYN FUNNELL.