Just outside of the town of Fort William, lying majestically amongst shingle and sand is the Corpach shipwreck. This great fishing vessel rests on Caol Beach, overlooked by Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the whole of the United Kingdom.
When you see photographs of the wreck online it is easy to see why this is such a popular spot for photographers from all over the world. It is simply stunning.
After seeing images surface on social media of this wreck a couple of years ago I knew with all my heart that I just had to pay it a visit. Not only is the rusting old vessel located in the perfect spot for a beautiful photograph but I have an awestruck fascination with abandoned things, be it houses or ships.
Therefore when I found myself located on the banks of Loch Tay near Aberfeldy for a week, I knew I had to squeeze a visit to the shipwreck into my itinerary, never mind the fact that it was 3 hours out of my way.
In this article I will dive into everything you need to know about the Corpach shipwreck, from its history, location, where to park and how to find it.
The History of the Corpach Shipwreck
The Corpach shipwreck is actually the rusting remains of a fishing vessel known as ‘MV Dayspring’. The 26 metre-long boat was built in 1975 and was used as a fishing boat, trawling the North Sea to catch herring and mackerel.
The ship was later re-named ‘Golden Harvest’. When the vessel’s skipper retired he sold Golden Harvest and she was shipped to Kilkeel in Northern Ireland where the boat continued a life of fishing.
In the early 2000’s Golden Harvest returned to Scotland and was moored at Kinlochleven Pier in Loch Leven until 2009, situated south-east of Fort William. The name Kinlochleven is Gaelic for ‘head’ of Loch Leven. The owners at the time had plans to convert the boat into a floating sea food restaurant but this never materialised.
The boat was now retired, increasing oil prices and a depletion of fish numbers contributing factors to this.
In 2009 the old fishing boat was moved to Camusnagaul Bay on Loch Linnhe, now under new ownership. In the year that followed, numerous repairs were done to the ship.
On 8th December 2011 a huge storm came in and the raiser chain which kept the vessel moored in Camusnagaul Bay failed. Golden Harvest was torn from its mooring. The local coastguard helped to control the landing of the vessel on the beach, between the villages of Corpach and Caol. Golden Harvest has lain there since, now an iconic landmark on the beach.
Where is the Corpach Shipwreck Located?
The Corpach shipwreck can be found on a stretch of beach between the villages of Corpach and Caol, only a 5 minute drive north west from the town of Fort William.
The beach is a public beach meaning anyone can access it. There are no barriers to enter and no fees to pay for visiting.
The shipwreck is known interchangably as the Corpach wreck and the Old Boat of Caol (the latter being the name used to locate it on Google Maps). Both names give reference to the villages which are close by.
Corpach is the closest village to the wreck. The name Corpach actually translates in Gaelic to ‘field of corpses’. It is thought that the village got this name as it was used as a resting place when transporting coffins of chieftains for burial in Iona, an island of the south western coast of the Isle of Mull.
To the east of the wreck is a village called Caol which consists mostly of residential properties. The name is Gaelic for narrow, referencing the narrow stretch of water between Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil.
How to Get to the Corpach Shipwreck
There are numerous ways to reach the shipwreck as it is in such an accessible location. You can reach the wreck either from Corpach village or Caol village. I have given directions for different options below.
Reaching the Wreck From Corpach
The shipwreck is only a short walk away from Corpach train station. This is ideal if you are journeying by train.
If you are travelling by car then follow signs for the station. Once at the station use the crossing to cross over the railway line and you will find yourself in a carpark beside a canal. This is a great place to park.
Once you have reached the carpark (you can walk here from the station if journeying by train), you will need to cross the canal. There are numerous bridges which you can use to cross it. From there you will find yourself on a path (known as Great Glen Way) which will take you parallel to the beach.
There is a stream which flows onto the beach, blocking access to the wreck. It is too large and wide to cross from the beach.
Many photographers like to take photos of the wreck from this (the Corpach side) of the stream as it provides the best angle of the wreck with Ben Nevis in the background (you will however need a telephoto lens for this shot). If this is you then you will wish to leave the trail as soon as possible. You can then wander right up to the stream.
If you wish to get up close to the wreck then you will have to return to the trail and follow it as it crosses over the stream. You can then leave the path and walk right up to the shipwreck.
Reaching the Wreck From Caol
I actually accessed the Corpach shipwreck from the village of Caol. The walk from here is longer than the walk for Corpach but it is entirely on the beach, allowing for a scenic walk.
There is a carpark close to the beach known as the Caol Shopping Centre carpark. It is in a square between various shops and restaurants. As well as the carpark there is also lots of on-street parking options.
From the carpark you simply wander down to the beach. You can either walk along the beach itself or walk along the path behind the beach (the Great Glen Way, part of the same trail which you would take if approaching the wreck from Corpach village).
If you opt to walk along the beach there is a small stream which you will have to cross before you reach the wreck.
Other Shipwrecks in Corpach
On my visit to the Old Boat of Caol I stumbled across another wreck on the beach. Whilst not as large or impressive as the Corpach Wreck, the wreck of a small sailing boat does make for an interesting encounter.
The sailing boat called ‘Argo’ remains much of a mystery. I couldn’t find any information online about this wreck. One can only assume that it suffered a similar fate to the Corpach shipwreck and was ripped from its mooring in a storm. Fierce storms are common in this area of Scotland.
Visiting the Corpach shipwreck didn’t disappoint. In fact the wreck is even more impressive in person than it is in photos. Seeing it up close you are able to truly appreciate its great size.
Easy access to the wreck makes it a good attraction to visit if you are in the area.
Have you visited the Corpach shipwreck before?