Our first day on the Scottish Highlander includes a visit to Cawdor Castle

Editors Note: Twenty-six-year old-Will Garrett and his father Edward sailed on the Scottish Highlander luxury barge operated by European Waterways earlier this month. Will filed a daily report and these will be published this week.

DAY 4: Traveling to Inverness/Dochgarroch

Today started off rather early. This morning, we took the train into Inverness. It took us 3-1/2 hours by train to reach the town where we would meet our barge, the Scottish Highlander, for our cruise down the locks and canals of northern Scotland.

Scottish Highlander/European Waterways
The Scottish Highlander

The train ride was brilliant. The western shore of Scotland was to the right and the countryside to the left. The Scottish countryside is just beautiful and was littered with little lambs and sheep along steep mountain cliffs. The ocean, to the other side, had many shipping and fishing vessels and I snapped many pictures and videos as we came closer to the converted barge.

Upon arrival at the Scottish Highlander, we were greeted with a champagne toast and a cheese plate, consisting of all local fare. The boat is very luxurious, yet rustic at the same time, with mahogany floors, ceilings and walls throughout.

Country decor aboard

The main cabin has very plush dark red leather couches, a proper dining room table that seats eight and a fully stocked bar with over 10 different choices of Scotch alone. There were two couples on the journey with us – one from Yorkshire and the other from Sydney, Australia. They both seemed to have had much travel experience and had wonderful stories to tell of the adventures they have had around the world.

We embarked on our first journey today to Cawdor Castle which was just breathtaking. It had been purchased by a woman that actually lives in the castle to this day. She was referred to as the “lady of the manor” and there were many pictures of her and her family against the medieval backdrop of the castle.

Cawdor Castle

Cawdor Castle included many old paintings, tapestries and weapons. The exterior grounds had a beautiful English garden and a garden maze. This was my first taste of the castles of Scotland and it left me with a hunger for more!

After the tour we headed back to the ship for dinner and a wee dram of  the single malt scotch that was on board. A delightful meal, scotch and coffee ended the days travel before we retired for the night anticipating what adventures that were in store for tomorrow.

Want to know more about this vessel? From Wikipedia:

The Scottish Highlander is a boutique hotel barger cruising the Caledonian Canal in Scotland, from Inverness to Fort William. She is a Luxe motor Dutch steel bare.

She was built in 1931, by GeBroeders Van Zuttphen, in Holland as a trading barge. She was christened the Vertrouwen, meaning “trust” in Dutch. She served as a trading barge for her first 60 years, transporting grain and various commodities throughout Holland.

In 1991, she was purchased by J.P. Leisure Limited. After a renovation in Holland she sailed to Inverness in April 1993 to begin her career as a passenger ship.

In 1999 she was purchased by Derek Banks to become part of the European Waterways fleet of hotel barges. From 1999 to 2000 she was completely renovated and was renamed Scottish Highlander. She was refurbished again in 2006.

As a working hotel barge she cruises in Scotland on the Caledonian Canal with up to eight passengers. She has four passenger cabins, three crew cabins, and a saloon. She is crewed by a captain, tour guide, chef and housekeeper.


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