Scotland is a land of misty mountains, rolling glens, and dramatic views that few places on Earth can rival. Yet, among its many sites, the Corpach shipwreck stands out as a unique and stunning photo op you won’t find anywhere else. No matter rain or shine, the Corpach shipwreck is worth visiting, especially during a trip through the Scottish Highlands.
Moored on the banks of Loch Eil under the peaks of Ben Nevis, you’ll find the wreckage of the MV Dayspring. For years, the site has drawn visitors to take photos of the shipwreck set against a backdrop of mirrored waters, dramatic skies, and Scotland’s highest peak. It’s a must-see spot for anyone hiking through the area and will add to your photo album.
If you are planning a trip through the Fort William area of the Scottish Highlands, keep reading to learn more about the Corpach Shipwreck, its history, and how to get there. We’ll guide you through everything you should know to prepare for your trip.
Corpach at a Glance
Though not as large as neighboring Fort William, Corpach is a small community with a long and mystical history located at the intersection of Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil. Thanks to its natural harbour, which sits inland from the sea, protected by the Corpach Basin, the community played an important role as a harbour for ships during the Great War and WWII.
Yet, Corpach’s history stretches back long before the modern-day. As far as records go, the first community to have settled the area came around the mid-17th century. In fact, its name can be traced to Scottish Gaelic, translating to the “field of corpses”, denoting a place where the heads of clans would have their coffins prepared before being buried on Iona in the Inner Hebrides.
By the start of the 1800s, Corpach had grown into a major transportation hub for the rest of Scotland, especially after the construction of Neptune’s Staircase—a large sea lock—in Banavie and three additional locks in the Corpach harbour. Although the local harbour hasn’t grown much since the end of the World Wars, the region has grown to become a popular holiday destination.
With its close proximity to Fort William—the portal to Ben Nevis—Corpach draws many visitors and offers both the Corpach Shipwreck and Neptune’s Staircase for tourists to explore.
History of the Corpach Shipwreck, Old boat of Caol, Ben Nevis
What has since been dubbed the Corpach Shipwreck was originally a fishing boat built in the mid-1970s, named the MV Dayspring. After retiring the vessel in 2001, the Dayspring was left at Kinlochleven Pier until a strong thunderstorm blew her off her docking in 2011. The storm carried her across the Loch and ran the vessel aground where she lies today.
Compared to other regional sites, the Corpach Shipwreck isn’t as well known, but, it’s become a favorite among locals and photographers seeking to capture Ben Nevis with a unique subject in the foreground. We definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in the Corpach area, as it’s not a heavily touristed site and you’re bound to get a good shot.
Even if the weather doesn’t hold up, you’ll be able to take in the surrounding peace and tranquility of the loch and the stunning view of Ben Nevis ahead. You can also try your hand at paddle boarding or kayaking along the loch, using the shipwreck as your launching point.
How to Visit the Corpach Shipwreck, Old boat of Caol, Ben Nevis
If you enjoy hiking, you’ve inevitably heard of Fort William, the gateway to the largest peak in the United Kingdom. If not, we highly recommend stopping off on your journey through Scotland to visit the small mountain town and soak up the surrounding atmosphere. From Fort William, you can then journey over to Corpach, which is just 4 miles northeast of the larger town.
By the time you reach Corpach, you’ll have reached the limits of the Caledonian Canal, which leads all the way from Scotland’s eastern shores in Inverness to the western banks of Corpach. Situated right at the end of this canal, beached on the rocky banks, you’ll find the remains of the MV Dayspring.
We recommend driving from Fort William and, from the Corpach train station, head left from the Kilmallie community centre. Continue along the road, passing over the tracks, and onward to a small pier where you’ll find fishing boats and dockhands heading off for their daily catch. Park at the harbour and prepare for a short walk up the canal.
By following the canal, you’ll eventually end up at the locks, which you can cross using a small footbridge built along the beachside. Continue along the path away from the harbour until you reach an opening in the woods that leads down to the banks. You should immediately see the wreckage.
WHAT THREE WORDS – ///acids.airbase.foal
How to Get the Perfect Shot?
To truly capture the beauty of Ben Nevis and the Ole Boat of Caol, we recommend going towards the end of day, as the sun is starting the set. Although some recommend going in the morning, if you attempt to shoot the scene before mid-day, the rising sun in the east will wash out your photos and you will not capture the mountain and clouds.
Be warned, though, that the peak of Ben Nevis is often shrouded in clouds, so be creative with angles to capture the drama of the sky and the mountains behind. Some of the best shots are taken from the water, with the boat in front and to the left of the camera.
If you choose this angle, we recommend taking it from a kayak as the water can be quite chilly. Additionally, be sure to bring proper photography equipment. Although most modern phones have quality cameras, a DSLR camera will help capture the full range of colors and textures strewn across the landscape.
Where to Stay in the Nearby Area?
Although there is lodging in Corpach itself, we recommend finding somewhere in Fort William. It’s a larger community than Corpach with more options and it also acts as a launching point for other nearby attractions. If you wish to explore Corpach beyond the shipwreck, it’s only a 10-minute drive from Fort William’s city centre.
For higher-end budgets, we recommend staying at either the Ardrhu House Hotel or Inverlochy Castle Hotel. Both options offer beautiful waterfront views and luxury amenities. However, if you’re hoping for a less expensive trip, the Stronlossit Inn offers amazing food and the comfort of home at an affordable price. There are also several youth hostels in the area to accommodate any budget.
What Else is There to See in the Area?
The Fort William area is home to some of Scotland’s most stunning views. If you have some time, we recommend driving through the surrounding landscape and stopping off at the following spots. Remember to bring your camera and soak up the natural beauty.
Just a short walk from the shipwreck, you’ll find a series of 8 canal locks known as Neptune’s Staircase. These locks were built more than 200 years ago to help carry boats through the canal and out into open waters. They represent some of the final stretches of the Caledonian Canal, which stretches all the way across Scotland.
While not within walking distance, Stalker Castle is another must-see site within the area. Located roughly 25 miles south of Fort William, you can find the 700-year-old castle by following the A82 southwestward for roughly half an hour. The castle is four stories tall and situated on a small islet, overlooking the surrounding waters. If you call ahead, you may be able to schedule a tour.
Last but certainly not least, you can also hike to the peak of Ben Nevis. The 1,345-metre mountain stands tall over the Scottish Highland with panoramic views of the lochs and seashore. If you wish to hike the mountain, we recommend doing so in the warmer months, as the weather on the mountain can be quite unpredictable in late autumn and winter.
What to Pack for a Trip to Corpach?
Corpach is situated pretty far north and on the banks of the North Atlantic. Understandably, it gets quite cold in the winter and stays mild throughout the year. You’ll also likely experience persistent sea breezes. So, no matter the time of year, we recommend packing the following items for your trip to Corpach:
- Hiking boots: You’ll want a good pair of hiking boots to explore the shipwreck and the surrounding area.
- A DSLR camera: As we mentioned, a quality camera will help you capture the true beauty of the shipwreck, Ben Nevis, and the Corpach area.
- A tripod: If you’re hoping to get some good shots of the shipwreck or Ben Nevis, we recommend bringing along a tripod to help stabilize your camera.
- Weather-appropriate clothing: The weather in Scotland can be quite unpredictable, so be sure to pack layers, a waterproof jacket, and a hat.
- Hiking snacks and water: If you’re planning on hiking in the area, be sure to pack snacks and plenty of water to stay hydrated.
You may also want to bring a torch or a headlamp if you plan to hike up Ben Nevis. The hike is a full day’s journey and you don’t want to get stuck on the mountain without any light.
Where to Go After Corpach and Fort William
After seeing the Fort William area, we recommend journeying further north to the Isle of Skye. Roughly 60 miles northwest, you can reach the mythical island within an hour and a half and experience waterfalls, glens, and streams said to be home to fairies. Be sure to stop by at Eilean Donan Castle on the way for a tour and some pictures of the iconic highland landscape.
Final Thoughts on Corpach and the Ole Boat of Caol
The Corpach Shipwreck is a must-see photo op when visiting the Scottish Highlands. Set against the backdrop of Ben Nevis, the MV Dayspring presents a unique and stunning subject to capture in your photos. Although the walk to reach the wreck is short, the views of the surrounding landscape make it worth the effort.
Whether you’re a photographer or simply enjoy exploring new areas, we recommend adding the Corpach Shipwreck to your list of must-see sights in Scotland. While in Fort William, take time to visit Stalker Castle and also check out the manmade wonder of the Neptune’s Staircase locks.
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