The Caledonian Canal allows ships to cross from the East coast of Scotland to the West avoiding the long and sometimes dangetrous passage round the top of Scotland.
It was constructed in the early nineteenth century by engineer Thomas Telford, and is a sister canal of the Göta Canal in Sweden.
The canal runs some 60 miles (97 km) from Inverness in the northeast to Fort Wiliam in the southwest. One third of its length is man-made, the rest being formed by the deep lochs that lie along so much of the Great Glen geological fault.
There are 29 locks (including eight at Neptune's Staircase, Banavie), four aqueducts and 10 bridges in the course of the canal.
The canal today is mostly used by small cargo vessels, fishing boats and pleasure craft. You can charter a motor cruiser from West Highland Sailing's base right beside Ivy Cottage.