Major Sporting Facility Set To Attract Thousands of Tourists

Scotland’s first formal canoe trail, a breathtaking journey through the Great Glen, was launched today (Friday 23rd March 2012) and is expected to draw thousands of additional tourists to the Highlands of Scotland.
The sixty mile long Great Glen Canoe Trail journeys along the two hundred year old Caledonian Canal, between Corpach, near Fort William, and Inverness. It takes in Telford’s man-made canal, four lochs and offers alternative whitewater river sections along the route.
By offering different challenges and experiences within the one trail, the Great Glen Canoe Trail will suit different abilities. More than that, the partners behind the new trail believe it will stand head to head with the UK’s top canoeing destinations becoming one of the country’s most exciting new adventures for intermediate and advanced paddlers.
The £600,000¹ project has been delivered by partners British Waterways Scotland, The Highland Council (Planning and Development Service), Scottish Natural Heritage and the Forestry Commission Scotland with support from the Scottish Canoe Association and financial assistance the European Regional Development Fund through the Highlands and Islands Partnership Programme.
Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: "Scotland's distinctiveness and warm welcome draws tourists from across the globe.  Each years thousands of visitors are attracted by the quality of our unique landscapes and the wealth of world class visitor experiences on offer. The Great Glen Canoe Trail builds on Scotland’s growing reputation as a first class location for adventure tourism and will help attract even more visitors to this stunning part of Scotland.”
Riddell Graham, VisitScotland Director of Partnerships said: “This is excellent news for the local economy and for positioning the Highlands and indeed Scotland as a major hotspot for canoeing.
“Our research has highlighted the importance of the adventure tourism market to Scotland with a value in excess of £825m. As Scotland’s first formal canoe trail this will add to Scotland’s already burgeoning outdoor tourism experiences and further enhance Scotland’s reputation as the adventure capital of Europe whilst also perfectly encapsulating the forthcoming Year of Natural Scotland.”
Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of The Highland Council's Planning Environment and Development Committee, said: "The Highland Council is delighted to have been involved in the creation of the Great Glen Canoe Trail, in conjunction with our partners British Waterways and Forestry Commission Scotland.  This  is a significant milestone as the Great Glen Canoe Trail will become the first of 'Scotland's Great Trails' to be water-based  It  will complement the walking and cycling opportunities already provided on the Great Glen Way and the Great Glen Cycle Way, adding to the range of visitor attractions and experiences and boosting the economy of the area. The Council welcomes this initiative and the close working partnership and  co-operation  between the three agencies that this has engendered."

Hamish Wood, Councillor Aird and Loch Ness, said: “This opening marks the conclusion of many years is preparing and designing a facility to benefit not only the community but also bring people into the area. People are looking for an ever increasing number of activity holidays and what could be better than to canoe and camp on the shores of Loch Ness.”
Russell Thomson, Waterway Manager, Highlands, British Waterways Scotland, adds: “This fantastic new sustainable route through the Great Glen will bring many benefits to the Highlands both in supporting the regional tourism economy and socially. Together with the Great Glen Ways, which promotes the excellent opportunities for travelling through the region by 'Boot, Boat and Bike', the Great Glen Canoe Trail will help further position the Highlands as a world class, year round choice for outdoor recreation, a must-visit destination."
The Great Glen Canoe Trail will capitalise on what continues to be the world’s fastest growing watersport and boost what is already a significant number of paddlers attracted to the Caledonian Canal.
Indeed, over 2,500 paddlers visited the Caledonian Canal in 2009. In anticipation of the opening of the new trail, 4,000 paddlers took to the waterway in 2010 attracted to the scenery and the varying challenges of the waterway which includes two lochs classed as Open Water and covered by HM Coastguard, Loch Lochy and Loch Ness. 
Once established, the Great Glen Canoe Trail is expected to welcome an increasing number of paddlers each year. This is in addition to the half a million visitors already seen on the waterway and towpath annually.
By attracting the growing watersports market, the Great Glen Canoe Trail will bring significant economic benefits to the communities through which the waterway passes.
Each paddler spends an average of £100 per day during their trip which is significantly more than walkers and cyclists. Last year, paddlers visiting the Caledonian Canal spent an estimated £750,000 in the Great Glen and surrounding areas.
As well as offering a wilderness experience for paddlers, the Caledonian Canal, itself a protected Scheduled Monument, offers visitors an idyllic view of some of the Scotland’s most stunning landmarks from the more famous to the beautiful but unsung.
Attractions include Ben Nevis, Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle through to the elegant cast iron 1812 Moy Bridge, which is the only hand operated bridge on the canal, and the 1815 Bona Lighthouse at the northern edge of Loch Ness, once the UK’s only manned inland lighthouse.
To celebrate the launch of the Great Glen Canoe Trail, the Scottish Canoe Association will host Paddlefest this weekend (Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th March).
The two day Paddlefest event at Fort Augustus will include a full programme of workshops by leading coaches from across the UK and free taster sessions to encourage visitors to get out and about on the Trail and experience the adventure of paddling for themselves.
Enjoying the Great Glen Canoe Trail
The Great Glen Canoe Trail can be travelled in sections or in whole as a 3-5 day expedition. Open canoes, sea kayaks and touring kayaks are recommended.
There’s plenty of space in the four lochs – Lochy, Dochfour, Ness and Oich – to experience a feeling of wilderness. As well as the challenging open waters of Loch Ness and Loch Oich, experienced paddlers can also choose to run the rivers Oich, Ness and Lochy instead of traversing the canal sections.
The Great Glen Canoe Trail features low level access pontoons at each of the Caledonian Canal's locks and bridges along with canoe-accessible pontoon walkways.
The trail will also feature a series of 'Trailblazer Rests' or informal campsites. The new 'Trailblazer Rests' which will be established over the summer will include open side shelters, fire pits and composting toilets.
There are also dedicated car parking facilities for paddlers at either end of the Glen with specially designed canoe hitches allowing paddlers to secure equipment overnight whilst using local food and accommodation businesses.
As well as waymarkers along the route, a website – has been created along with a trail map, guidebook and promotional DVD.
The Great Glen Way 
 The Great Glen Canoe Trail builds upon the success of the partnership’s Great Glen Ways project to attract tourists and local visitors to travel sustainably through the region by ‘boat, bike or boot’.
Paddlers will be able to use the 43 timber and stone Great Glen Ways interpretative waymarkers which give an insight into the folklore, history, geology, flora and fauna of the Great Glen.
Further information on the Caledonian Canal can be found at
Further information on the Great Glen Ways can be found at

27 Mar 2012