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The RNLB Corinne Whiteley coming through the third lock of Neptunes Staircase on the Caledonian Canal.

The RNLB and her crew were on their way through to Ireland for a refit.


Neptune's Staircase (grid reference NN113769) is a staircase lock comprising eight locks on the Caledonian Canal. It is the longest staircase lock in the United Kingdom, and lifts boats 64 feet (19.5 metres). The locks were originally hand-powered, but have been converted to hydraulic operation. The base plinths of the original capstans are still present, although the capstans themselves are now gone.

The current lock gates weigh 22 tons each, and require a team of three lock-keepers (at minimum) to run the staircase.

It is usual for them to operate on an "Efficiency Basis", that is the keepers try to either fill each cut with boats on the lift or drop, or to allow for passing, ie a dropping craft to pass a rising craft on the same fill/empty cycle.

It takes approx 1 hour 30 minutes for a boat to pass from one end of the staircase to the other, through the eight locks.

It is one of the biggest staircases in Britain, and is kept by British Waterways.

It is located at Banavie, near Fort William just north of Loch Linnhe.

The structure was designed by Thomas Telford.

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Additional Photos by Rich Beghin (Ricx) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 994 W: 51 N: 2900] (13495)
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