A boating holiday on the Scottish canals gives you the opportunity to explore and meander your way along both the Forth & Clyde Canal and the Union Canal, linked together by the impressive Falkirk Wheel. The once derelict canals have been wonderfully restored and have opened up some of the most beautiful waterways in the United Kingdom for you to discover, with some fascinating attractions along the way.
The Falkirk Wheel
The Falkirk Wheel is conveniently located at our Falkirk base, situated between Edinburgh and Glasgow. It is an ideal starting point for your Scottish canal holiday. The Falkirk Wheel, opened by Her Majesty, The Queen in 2002, is a rotating boat lift that connects the Union Canal (towards Edinburgh) and the Forth & Clyde Canal (towards Glasgow). Before the wheel, the canals were joined by a series of 11 locks which took almost a day to travel through. The Falkirk Wheel is the only rotating boat lift in the world, standing at a whopping 115ft high, it can carry 8 boats at one time and raises them by an impressive 79ft from the Forth & Clyde canal at the bottom to the Union Canal at the top. There is no charge but it is recommended to book your passage through the Falkirk Wheel in advance.
The Kelpies structure is another must-see, located on the Forth & Clyde Canal either side of a lock, at a staggering 100ft tall it is the largest equine structure in the world, with each of the horses weighing 300 tonnes! The Kelpies were built as a monument to the heavy horse industry in Scotland, based on heavy-horse breeds such as Shires, Clydesdales and Percherons. A 45-minute walking tour of the Kelpies is available at their home at the Helix, Falkirk. Arrival to the Helix by boat is welcomed- just cruise into the Kelpies Hub through the Forth & Clyde lock.
Departing from the Falkirk Wheel is the perfect place to begin your holiday on the Scottish waters as you are able to visit both cities in a one week cruise. Cruising towards Edinburgh, you’ll venture through the Falkirk Tunnel, an impressive tunnel of 631 metres, cut through solid rock and stone. You’ll also go across the Almond Aqueduct; Scotland’s largest at 420ft long, standing at 76ft high. Once in Edinburgh you’ll be spoilt for choice with the variety of attractions on offer. There’s something for all ages, with shopping, and the Edinburgh Zoo, home to the UK’s only giant pandas. Edinburgh Castle, recently named the top UK heritage attraction is also worth a visit, along with the Scotch Whisky Experience for those partial to the occasional scotch.
On your way to Glasgow from Edinburgh you’ll get to experience the Falkirk Wheel once again, this time descending onto the Forth & Clyde Canal. The scenic journey to Glasgow is often described as one of the most attractive stretches of canal in the UK; it will take you through the villages of Kirkintilloch, Cadder and the village of Auchinstarry which hosts the remains of a Roman fort. Once you reach Scotland’s largest city, which is known as the ‘cultural hub’ of Scotland, due to it being the home of many museums and galleries, along with the Scottish Opera and Ballet and the National Theatre. For the shopping enthusiasts, there is a huge variety of high street and designer shops to explore. One week before you start your journey to Glasgow, a phone call to Scottish Canals Boat Movement is necessary to book passage through the Bonnybridge road bridge lift.
For more information on Scottish boating holidays, visit our website www.waterwaysholidays.com/scotland_canals.htm or call our specialised boating team on 01252 796400.