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Scottish Canoe Challenge with Pendleside

10th Aug 2022 - 14th Aug 2022

5 days/United Kingdom /Moderate to Challenging


This five-day challenge includes over 100km (60 miles) of paddling through stunning Scottish scenery, from Fort William in the west, to Inverness in the east. The Loch Ness Canoe Trail includes 22 miles of the man-made Caledonian Canal, linking Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness, creating a route which stretches the entire width of Scotland.

You’ll be travelling through some of the country’s most dramatic landscape, wild camping on the shores each night and able to enjoy the unspoilt countryside in its full glory. Your expert guides will help you develop your paddling skills and show you how to sail rafted canoes. No previous canoeing experience is required, although it would be a bonus.

This challenge is graded moderate to challenging. You will be canoeing for many hours each day, sometimes having to assist with portage (carrying the canoe from one to the next body of water). You will sleep in tents which you will erect yourself at basic wild camps with very limited facilities and you will assist with cooking your own meals each day.

Although there are not great distances of canoeing involved (average 20km per day for 5 days), this is quite a physical trip and having a reasonable level of mobility and fitness, particularly core and upper body strength, will benefit you greatly. Please also note that all participants must be able to swim.

As a minimum requirement, participants must be able to get themselves in and out of the canoes, have sufficient upper body strength to paddle for several hours per day, assist with pitching tents and preparing meals, and be able to cope with very basic wild camping and toilet facilities. During some days you will assist in carrying the canoes on land between bodies of water so you must be able to walk unaided while sharing the load carrying of a canoe.

Typically, temperatures can range between 11°C and 18°C with average temperatures around 14°C. Nights are cooler (down to around 7°C). Strong, cold winds are possible on some parts of the route and some rain showers are likely. Wind and rain helps to keep away midges so inclement weather can be a benefit.
Please note it is possible to experience extreme deviations from the normal climate pattern and very hot or very cold conditions are possible. Climate and weather conditions during the trip are out of our control. It is extremely important that you take responsibility to prepare yourself for all weather conditions during this challenge by checking local forecasts and packing accordingly.

The challenge can be undertaken by those aged 18+ (or 16+ if accompanied by an adult). You must have a good level of fitness, able to self-manage (e.g. you know how to keep hydrated, nourished, warm and dry), be in good health, have oodles of determination and a positive and flexible can-do attitude. An ideal candidate would be someone who enjoys being outdoors and wants to push themselves out of their comfort zone.

This challenge is accompanied by professional canoe guides who will offer expert instruction in the various canoeing techniques and supervise throughout the trip.

You will be wild camping in tents each night, which you will erect yourself on the banks and bays of the lochs or canals. The toilet facilities are basic ‘hole-in-the-ground’ style, as you are wild camping. You will also need to bring your own camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, toiletries, towel etc. Please see the full suggested kit list below.

You will be responsible for cooking your own meals. Meals are provided and are basic ‘boil in the bag’ style. If you have any dietary requirements you must inform us in advance.

Swimwear, shorts and t-shirts are suitable but it is important to dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Wear extra warm layers or thermals if it’s going to be colder. Wear loose-fitting clothes if it is warmer. (NB. It is much more comfortable to wear loose-fitting clothes while canoeing.) Please ensure you bring waterproofs in case of rain.

Old trainers, reef/surf shoes or Cros are good footwear to wear while in the canoe. Do not wear flip-flops or wellies. Please see the full suggested kit list below.

We require a medical form to be completed by everyone upon registering, and any pre-existing conditions, medications used and other medical issues must be specified. All your medical details are treated in the strictest confidence.

The information will be securely screened by a qualified medical professional, and details provided to your tour manager and local guides so our staff are adequately informed and prepared to support you during the trip. By completing this booking form you are giving consent for us to contact you confidentially with any follow up questions regarding your health.

If you declare any medical conditions you may be asked to provide more information, or we may request to contact your GP.

In the event that your medical issues at the time of booking represent a concern for your safety and wellbeing, or the safety and wellbeing of others in the group, you may be recommended not to take part. If this happens your booking will not be confirmed and the deposit will be refunded.

We must be informed if any conditions or medication change, or if new conditions develop. If necessary confirmation of fitness to travel from your GP or specialist may be required.

Please note that we will never unreasonably deny participation on a trip nor contravene the Equality Act 2010.


Underwear and socks
Non-cotton t-shirts / shirts
Non-cotton shorts / trousers
Non-cotton fleece / sweater / warm layer
Non-cotton base layer top and bottoms / thermals (for cold days or to sleep in)
Sunhat with brim, warm hat and sunglasses
Waterproof jacket
Waterproof trousers
Gloves – preferably waterproof, or wool which stays warm when wet
Footwear you can get wet for the day time
Footwear to keep dry for the evenings at camp

Accessories and luggage

Large waterproof kit bag/ duffel bag to hold all your camp gear (NO suitcases!)
Small waterproof dry bag / rucksack liner (for small items e.g. camera and phone)
LED head torch with new batteries inside
Portable battery pack for mobile phone (optional)
Camera (optional)

What to carry?

Mobile phone – fully charged
Wallet with cash and credit/debit card(s)
Toilet paper*
Nappy sacks or disposal bags to carry any used toilet paper*
Hand sanitizer
Waterproof sunscreen (high SPF)
Small, basic first aid kit (pain killers, blister plasters, plasters, personal medication).
Consider antihistamine medicine for midge bites.
Mosquito/midge repellent (50% DEET repellent and/or Avon Skin So Soft Dry Oil Spray)
Feminine hygiene products*
Small pack of baby wipes (optional)

What to bring for camping

Sleeping bag (comfort rating 0°C or lower)
Sleeping bag liner (cotton or silk)
Sleeping mat
Fast-dry travel towel
Toiletries (toothbrush*, toothpaste*, shower gel*, shampoo*, deodorant* etc.)

What food and drink do I need?

Water bottles to hold at least 2 litres of water
Knife, fork and spoon
Camping mug and bowl
Electrolyte tablets (e.g. Nuun, High5 etc.) (optional)
Thermos flask / mug plus hot refreshment items e.g. tea, coffee, hot chocolate (optional)

Please note: This list is not exhaustive and does not account for your personal taste or preference. It should be used as a guideline only. If you have any questions or queries regarding this list which are not answered in the sections above please contact

*Please consider eco-friendly or biodegradable options. Consider shopping at Little Footprint Gifts.


Day 1 (Wednesday 10 August 2022): Inverness to Loch Lochy
Arrive at our meeting place in Inverness by 9am at the latest and transfer to the launch point in Fort William where our canoe challenge begins. We will paddle along the canal to Gairlochy where we leave the canoes and portage (carry the boats across land to the next section of water) to Loch Lochy where we continue for another 17km to arrive halfway down Loch Lochy at Clunes Bay for camp this evening.
Total distance: 25km paddle
Overnight: Camping

Day 2 (Thursday 11 August 2022) Loch Lochy to Loch Oich
Leaving Clunes Bay we paddle to Laggan where we will do another portage. We continue along a small canal section into Loch Oich and camp halfway down the Loch.
Total distance: 15km paddle
Overnight: Camping

Day 3 (Friday 12 August 2022) Loch Oich – Loch Ness
We start halfway down Loch Oich then have a long portage into Fort Augustus. Arriving in Fort Augustus we get our first glimpse of the vast and beautiful Loch Ness. Here we will build a raft with our canoes and sail for the rest of the day, halfway down Loch Ness. Sailing on canoe is a fast, effective and also social way to navigate the waters!
Total distance: 20-25km paddle/sail
Overnight: Camping

Day 4 (Saturday 13 August 2022) Loch Ness
After breakfast this morning we enjoy more sailing until we reach the end of Loch Ness at Dores Bay.
Total distance: 25-30km sail/paddle
Overnight: Camping

Day 5 (Sunday 14 August 2022) Loch Ness – Inverness
Today we set off on the canal route which will lead us to the Muirtown Basin at Inverness mid-afternoon, and marks the end of our canoe adventure. You should not book onward travel until 6pm at the earliest today.

Costs & How to pay

Registration fee: £125
and then…

Sponsorship: £1400


This option is for those who wish to raise sponsorship to cover both the costs of the trip (accommodation, food, guides etc.) and a donation to their chosen charity. There is a minimum sponsorship amount for each trip that you are required to raise in order to participate.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • The minimum sponsorship of £1,120 (80%) must be paid to the charity 12 weeks prior to departure.
  • The remaining £280 must be paid to the charity by the departure date.
  • The amount the charity receives is at least 50% of the minimum sponsorship total.

What's included

  • Transport from Inverness to the start point in Fort William
  • Canoes and paddles
  • Buoyancy jackets
  • All meals from dinner on day 1
  • UK canoe instructor
  • UK Different Travel tour manager

What's not included

  • Accommodation at the start or end of the trip
  • Transport to/from Inverness
  • Tents and camping equipment
  • Personal expenses (e.g. tips, snacks or drinks bought locally etc.)
  • Tips
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal clothing and equipment (see kit list)

Got a Question?

If you’ve a question about this challenge that you can’t find the answer to within the given information then complete this quick form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.