Both the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals were closed in the early 1960's and it was not until lottery funding was obtained in 1999 that restoration works rejoined the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh by canal. At a quarter of the cost of the overall £84.5 million project, the Falkirk Wheel between the two navigations is the most significant structure by far, but only one link in the overall scheme involving rebuilding bridges, clearing blockages and cutting new stretches of canal. For more facts and figures visit (01324 619888 / www.thefalkirkwheel.co.uk), but in summary the 25m level difference between the canals is traversed via a pair of gondolas which together carry 600 tonnes of water to the 100m aqueduct at the top of the 35m diameter wheel.
(Falkirk TIC 01324 620244 / www.scottish.heartlands.org)

There is no charge for the Falkirk Wheel but it is advisable to book beforehand (01324 619888).
Trips operate approximately every half hour from
8.30am to 7pm daily, each 'revolution' taking one narrowboat and the British Waterways trip boat.

View larger map

Select a route using the colour coded links below

All routes are covered in Nicholson’s N8, or Geo G25

THE SCOTTISH LOWLAND CANALS (The Forth and Clyde and the Union)
The Scottish Lowland Canals are quite different to what you will normally find in England.

The Forth and Clyde – being a sea to sea canal – is wider than the average English canal. Between our base at Falkirk and Glasgow there are four locks and three road bridges, all of which are currently operated by British Waterways staff. Between Glasgow and the Clyde at Bowling there are a further 18 locks and a number of pedestrian bridges, also operated by BW staff.The Union Canal is a contour canal and has no locks at all and no bridges that have to be opened to let you pass.The Falkirk Wheel, as you would imagine, is operated by British Waterways staff, as are the two locks above it and the one below.So if your holiday enjoyment centres on opening locks and bridges, these are not the canals for you. Having said that, the BW crew are only too happy to have your assistance and muscle power to help with opening locks and a very helpful in meeting your needs in terms of moving throughout the canal system.

However, if you allow a lack of opportunity for physical exertion to put you off coming to these two canals, which pass through some incredibly eye-catching and relaxing countryside, you will miss out on the Falkirk Wheel, the drop lock at Dalmuir which is the first of its kind in Britain and takes you down under a main road and a unique canal-side fish and chip shop. Not to mention entering the heart of both Edinburgh and Glasgow by boat.

To make some of your movement arrangements you will, on occasion, require the use of a mobile ‘phone.

 Glasgow & Return
3/4 nights, 20 hours, 8 locks
Four evenly spaced locks after Bonnybridge take the canal up to the broad, straight section before Auchinstarry, near to the town of Kilsyth. The majestic Campsie Fells rise from the valley that the canal shares with the River Kelvin and the scenery is superb as the canal then follows contours for the rest of the journey to Glasgow, twisting along the route.
l The canal arm south towards Applecross Street
Basin in Glasgow looks down to where the River Kelvin winds from the university past the museums and botanical gardens.

•  A major port with a shipping history back to the
18th century, Glasgow has a wealth of museums
and collections.
•  The art galleries and museums of Glasgow are never
without examples by Charles Rennie Mackintosh - there is even a church designed by him in the city!
•  Discover more at www.glasgowguide.co.uk

 Bowling & Return
1 week, 40 hours, 48 locks
The Forth & Clyde Canal follows the Clyde Estuary all the way down to the old ship-building village of Bowling - a pleasant boating haven with a couple of hotels serving food. The route has a rich mix of industry old & new, stunning views of the Clyde and relics of the
ship-building era.

 Edinburgh & Return
3/4 nights, 22 hours, 6 locks, 1 wheel
This cruise starts via the Falkirk Wheel and the new Rough Castle Tunnel, two new locks and a mile of new canal to join the original canal at the site of the summit of the flight of 11 locks that used to join the two canals. As the countryside undulates towards Edinburgh, the Union Canal does not, to complete the journey it follows a single contour with no more locks.
• You soon reach the 696 yard Falkirk Tunnel - the
stalactites and rock-hewn sections are a treat for
the budding geologist.
• Amongst the numerous minor aqueducts en route,
three to note are the 12 arch, 85ft Avon Aqueduct and the Almond and Slateford Aqueducts, both
at 75ft high.
• Cruise through open countryside with views across the
Firth of Forth
• Beecraigs Country Park (01506 844516 / www.beecraigs.com) and the beautifully preserved remains of Linlithgow Palace on the shore of
Linlithgow Loch (0131 668 8600 / www.historic-scotland.gov.uk) are within easy reach of the canal.
(Tourist Information 01506 844600)
Edinburgh is packed with history and the canal entry to
the city does not disappoint. The western suburbs are pleasant and spacious and the canal is well used by rowers and pleasure boaters as it nears
the city centre (www.edinburgh.org.uk).

 Edinburgh & Glasgow
 (Start & Finish Falkirk)
1 week, 42 hours, 14 locks, wheel twice
Complete the width of Scotland, and back, visiting both cities in a one week holiday.