Scottish canals doing well

Published: Thursday, 09 November 2017

FROM all accounts, the Scottish Government deciding that its canals should not go the 'charity' way has been a good decision, as they are in very good order.

So the five Scottish Canals remain publicly owned with British Waterways continuing to operate them as a statutory corporation trading as Scottish Canals.

Avon Aqueduct Union CanalLock Ness

These are the Caledonian, Crinan, (under restoration) Forth & Clyde, Monkland and Union Canals, plus four lochs including the very famous Loch Ness.

Though such as the Pontcsylite Aqueduct gets all the publicity the Union Canal has its own—the Avon Aqueduct, that is pictured in its autumn colours, that gets its fair share of visitors.

Falkirk Wheel

The great attraction of the Scottish Canals however in the Falkirk Wheel, a rotating boat lift that reconnects the Forth & Clyde Canal with the Forth, in 2002 connecting Glasgow to Edinburgh. The wheel allows boaters once again, since 1930 to cruise the whole length of the waterway between the two cities. It also carries a trip boat, with visitors also able to experience the rotating wheel.

Inside KelpiesThen there is the further attraction of the two massive Kelpies, that represent the lineage of the heavy horse of Scottish industry and economy, pulling the wagons, ploughs, barges and 'coalships' that shaped the geographical layout of the Falkirk area. The sculptures form a gateway at the eastern entrance to the Forth & Clyde Canal, with a the new arm constructed for boats.

Both the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies have their own visitor centres, with people now being allowed inside the Kelpies to see their engineering. The pictures shows Her Majesty the Queen being shown the inside of one of the Kelpies.

Up to good standard

Though Scottish Waterways only look after 137 miles of waterway, last year it announced it was spending from £25millions to £30millions on its canals over a three year period, with the work now undertaken having brought the infrastructure well up to a good standard. 

falkirk WheelThe work included the 200 year old Ness Weir on the Caledonian Canal being reinforced to extend its lifespan;  redevelopment of vacant premises in Fort Augustus, as an information and gift shop promoting relevant and locally produced goods and a café serving home-made, Scottish produce; the complete regeneration of Bowling Harbour on the western gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal and the renovation of other buildings.

The picture shows the Falkirk Wheel and visitor centre,

Much work has been undertaken on maintaining locks, swing bridges, etc, together with extensive work on securing canal cuttings and facilities for boaters, with more work now in progress over the winter to bring the Scottish waterways 'fit for purpose'.