Heavy rains and melting snow have washed away Cullochy weir, leading Scottish Canals to close part of the Caledonian Canal for up to six weeks

Boatowners in Scotland could have their Easter holiday plans disrupted by Scottish Canals’ decision to close part of the Caledonian Canal for up to six weeks.

The move comes after severe rainfall and melting snow washed away the weir at Collochy, six miles south of Fort Augustus, leading to a 2ft drop in the canal’s water level at Loch Oich.

Josie Saunders, head of corporate affairs for Scottish Canals, described this incident as “a significant and unforeseen breach of the canal which requires a major civil engineering response that will take many weeks to complete”.

As a result, a number of boats have been moved away from the site and Scottish Canals has warned that sea transits of the canal may be off-limits until the end of April.

This would mean a five-week delay to the start of the boating season, which was due to begin on March 23.

Ms Saunders continues: “Both our operations and engineering staff were on site within a few hours to assess the situation. While the imperative is to stem the flow of water at the weir, this is no easy job.

“There is no risk to life or property, but there has been an impact on the flow of water between the canal and the local system of lochs.

“While it is too early to say what the repair costs will be for Cullochy Weir, our current estimate is between £200,000-£300,000.”

The Caledonian Canal features 29 locks across 60 miles of inland waterways, and connects Inverness with Fort William.