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One of Fort William’s best-kept secrets is the Corpach Shipwreck. An old fishing boat that has washed up on the shore where Loch Linnhe meets Loch Eil.
The reason why this shipwreck makes such an interesting attraction is that it has a spectacular backdrop of the mountains including Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak.
Although a bit of a hidden gem in Scotland, it is starting to get popular with photographers and social media influencers.
I love abandoned places and, after seeing this wreck on social media, I just knew I had to visit this magical location for myself.
Here is a complete guide for the Corpach Shipwreck walk or how to visit the Old Boat of Caol!
What is the Old Boat of Caol?
The Old Boat of Caol, also known as the Corpach Wreck, is a fishing boat that rests on the shore where the sea lochs of Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil meet.
It’s located on a stretch of sand at the far end of the Caledonian Canal between the villages of Corpach and Caol.
This is on the Great Glen Way and has a dramatic backdrop of Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK.
Corpach in Gaelic roughly translates as “field of corpses”. Historically, this village was used as a resting place for coffins containing Clan chieftains who were on their way to be buried on the Isle of Iona.
Caol means “narrow” in Gaelic which references this narrow water channel between Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil.
Corpach Shipwreck history
The real name for the Old Boat of Caol is the MV Dayspring which was constructed in 1975 by J&G Forbes in Sandhaven.
She was originally designed as a trawler boat to catch herring and mackerel and had the nickname ‘Golden Harvest’.
Dayspring was eventually moored at Kinlochleven Pier and there were plans to turn her into a seafood restaurant but they never took off and she was eventually moored at Corpach.
In 2011, a terrible storm meant that MV Dayspring was forced from her moorings and chains. She was lost out at sea but eventually drifted onto the shore and ran aground where her life ended.
She has been on the beach for over a decade. Today, her memory has not been forgotten as many tourists now visit to photograph her with the spectacular views of Ben Nevis.
Where is the Shipwreck at Fort William?
The Old Boat of Caol is located on a stretch of sand between Caol and Corpach.
This is around 4 miles from Fort William, or a 10-minute drive, on the A380 Road to the Isles which stretches as far as Mallaig.
If you plan to visit famous sites like the Glenfinnan Viaduct, Loch Sheil, or the Silver Sands of Morar, this wreck makes the perfect pitstop on your road trip.
Many people miss it but, in my opinion, this is one of Fort William’s best-kept secrets!
How to visit the Corpach Shipwreck
You can plan a visit to the Corpach Wreck from either Corpach or Caol near Fort William but visiting from Corpach is easiest.
From the Corpach Basin by the Caledonian Canal, the Old Boat of Caol is only a short 10-15 minute walk away.
The address for the Corpach Basin parking area is Corpach, Fort William, PH33 7JH. Click here for a Google Pin!
If you’re travelling by public transport, the Corpach Wreck is located near Corpach train station.
You can easily catch a train from Fort William or Inverlochy Junction to Corpach. Fun fact, The Jacobite passes through here aka the Hogwarts Express!
The Old Boat of Caol is also conveniently located near the Great Glen Way. So, you could visit as part of a longer hike or bike ride.
Corpach Shipwreck parking
If you’re heading here by car from Fort William, you will need to navigate your way over to the Corpach Caledonian Canal parking area which is Corpach Basin.
You will need to first drive to Corpach on the A830 and then make a left turn at the Kilmallie community centre.
Follow Canal Cottages road until you cross over the railway tracks as it’s close to Corpach train station.
When trains are due to cross, barriers will come down that block this section of the road. So, you may need to wait.
On the sign as you enter it says that for your safety you must park your car in the lined bays away from the quayside.
Corpach Shipwreck parking is completely free in Corpach Basin and is open 24 hours a day
How long is the Corpach Shipwreck walk?
From Corpach Basin, the walk to the Old Boat of Caol should only take you around 10-15 minutes.
It’s a nice flat concrete canal path, followed by a short walk through the woodland and then onto the shingle beach.
Although you could spend as little as five minutes here, I would plan around 45 minutes to an hour to see the shipwreck. It really is a wonderful location, especially if you can see the peak of Ben Nevis.
Plus, you can extend your walk along the beach. There is a wrecked yacht a little further up the shore near Caol.
Corpach Shipwreck directions
From the Corpach Basin parking area, it’s quite easy to locate the Old Boat of Caol on the beach as you’ll see it from the harbour.
But, here are some detailed walking directions to help you find the beach easier!
1. From the Corpach Basin car park, head away from the harbour basin and up the Caledonian canal path towards the canal locks.
2. The path that leads you to the Corpach Shipwreck is on the right-hand side of the canal next to the Loch. But, you can take either the left or right path initially. You can then cross over one of the canal lock bridges to the right-hand side.
3. Once you see the ‘Fort William – Great Glen Way‘ sign follow this concrete path down into the woodland.
4. You’ll cross a bridge over the river which has a lovely view of a waterfall. Unfortunately, in summer, it was overgrown with trees to see properly.
5. Keep following the path to the very end until you see a right turning onto a beaten path through the overgrow that leads you to the beach. Watch out for thorny plants and stingy nettles.
6. Follow this beaten path to the beach and you’ll eventually find the Corpach Shipwreck or the Old Boat of Caol!
Exploring the Corpach Shipwreck
As soon as you get onto the beach, you will be amazed by the size of the shipwreck and the dramatic backdrop of the mountains behind it.
You truly cannot grasp how majestic this scene is until you see it for yourself. It felt surreal walking up to it. There’s even a waterfall on the shore a little further down.
On that note, the beach around the Corpach Wreck area is half shingle and half sand. It’s quite hard to walk on the rocks and these can get quite slippy.
There is always lots of seaweed, debris, and all manner of things that wash up onshore. So, make sure to watch your step!
You’re free to walk around the entire shipwreck but don’t attempt to climb onto the boat as the structure is not safe.
Regardless, it is definitely worth a visit in Scotland and one of the quirkiest attractions you can find in Fort William.
Old Boat of Caol photography
As soon as you visit, it’s easy to see why this shipwreck is such a popular photography location.
It’s absolutely stunning sitting on the shingle beach and has the most spectacular backdrop of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain peak in the UK!
I would say that the Old Boat of Cool looks great at any time of day but definitely visit at sunset if you want more dramatic skies. On my visit, the sky turned pink and it looked so magical.
The Corpach Shipwreck is HUGE so you can get some really fun photos of you to show the difference in size.
You really can’t take a ‘bad’ photo of this so make sure to experiment with different locations and angles along the shingle beach.
Old Boat of Caol opening items and prices
The Corpach Wreck is open 24 hours a day so you can plan a visit at any time during your stay in Scotland.
It’s considered a bit of a hidden gem so you won’t find lots of people here during the day or at any time really.
The Old Boat of Caol is completely FREE to visit in Scotland. So, it makes a great budget day out.
Things to do near the Old Boat of Caol
After you’ve visited the Corpach Shipwreck, there are plenty of attractions to visit nearby.
You’re in the Capital of the Highlands and it’s the perfect place to take a hike, visit the Nevis mountain range, chase filming locations or simply relax!
Here are some ideas of things to do after visiting the Corpach Shipwreck.
Check out the Neptune’s Staircase
Located in the small village of Bonavie, four miles from Fort William, there is a series of canal locks that are called Neptune’s Staircase.
It raises the canal by over 19 metres or 62 feet and covers the distance of just over a quarter of a mile. It takes canal boats over 90 minutes to traverse them all.
It was built by Thomas Telford and is the longest staircase lock in Scotland. It’s an ideal place to take a leisurely stroll and watch the boats travelling down the river.
Walk up Steall Falls in Glen Nevis
One of the most popular hikes in Fort William is to Steall Falls which is located in the Glen Nevis mountain range.
Harry Potter fans will love this hike as this is the waterfall that you can see behind the Quidditch Grounds of Hogwarts!
After an uphill walk through the forest, you can see the waterfall and then cross over the river via a rope bridge to get closer to the cascade. You’ll need at least 2-3 hours to complete the walk but it’s so worth it.
It’s Scotland’s second-highest waterfall and it’s also one of the most popular things to do in Fort William so I would recommend heading out early.
Chase Harry Potter filming locations
Did you know that there are plenty of other Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland that you can visit after Steall Falls? Most are located around Fort William, so you’re in the perfect place.
The most famous would be the spectacular Glenfinnan Viaduct. This is where they filmed the Hogwarts Express. You can visit the viewpoint to see the Harry Potter train cross over the bridge.
After you’ve visited the viewpoint, I would recommend heading down to see the Glenfinnan Monument that is by Loch Sheil. This lake and the mountains provided a backdrop for Hogwarts!
Then you can visit the little island of Eilean Na Moine where they filmed Dumbledore’s Grave in the movies. It’s only a 20-minute drive away from Glenfinnan.
After that, you can carry on up the road to visit Loch Morar. This is one of the locations for Hogwarts Lake. You could also stop at the award-winning Silver Sands beach that featured in Highlander.
Or, you can head to the remote Loch Arkaig to see where they digitally imposed this island (this one is only for dedicated fans as the drive is a challenge).
Here are some other magical Harry Potter locations in Glen Coe and the Highlands;
Ride the Hogwarts Express
As well as chasing filming locations, did you know you can actually ride the Hogwart’s Express in Scotland? I did this on my last visit and had the most magical time.
The Jacobite Steam Train has services that run from April – October on select days.
The whole experience will take you 84 miles from Fort William to Mallaig and will take approximately 2 hours and 11 minutes.
They make announcements whenever you see any of the Harry Potter filming locations like the Glenfinnan Viaduct and Dumbledore’s burial island.
You can buy Chocolate Frogs, Jelly Slugs, and Bertie Botts Beans from the sweet trolley. Plus, some amazing Harry Potter-themed souvenirs to take home.
There are even Butterbeer cocktails for adults and an afternoon tea option. It is expensive but, if you’re a Potterhead, the experience is priceless.
Reservations in advance are highly recommended, click here for more details on booking.
Where to stay in Fort William
I would recommend staying in Fort William to visit Corpach. There are lots of hotels to choose from as it’s the Capital of the Highlands.
Here are a small selection of the top recommended hotels;
- The Garrison – Set in an old jail you can spend a quirky few nights ‘in the clink’! It may sound creepy but the rooms look so cosy. They have won multiple Tripadvisor Rewards. Click here for dates and rates.
- Cruachan Hotel – Set in a building that looks like Hogwarts, the Cruachan has been established for many years and has affordable rooms for the night. Click here to book.
- Inverlochy Castle – This beautiful 19th-century castle next to a loch has been transformed into a 5-star hotel. It’s a little further out of Fort William but it’s a peaceful retreat of pure luxury. Click here to check rates.