Over 70 schoolchildren from three participating primary
schools at the northern end of the sixty mile long waterway,
joined together at Muirtown Basin, Inverness, for the first event
in the 'Discover the Caledonian Canal' pilot led by British
Waterways Scotland and the Waterways Trust Scotland's new
dedicated co-ordinator for the Highlands, Stephen Wiseman.
Three trained Waterway Trust volunteers also helped host the
The day long session took place around the basin, at the locks
and on the Loch Ness Barge (moored at the basin).
The new 'Discover the Caledonian Canal' education programme
encourages schools within walking distance of the waterway to
exploit the two hundred year old Scheduled Ancient Monument as a
rich resource for learning and as an attractive open 'classroom'
space. It also helps schoolchildren engage with the wider outdoor
landscape and work towards the John Muir Trust Discovery Award.
The pilot is targeted at upper classes in the participating
primary schools - Dalneigh, Dochgarroch and Muirtown. It will run
between now and May.
During the orientation workshop, the schoolchildren aged between
nine and eleven years met a storyteller in period costume and took
part in a variety of activities to help bring the inspiring story
of the canal to life. As well as water safety, the children learned
why and how the canal was built, how to create a historical
timeline and they even did a little detective work piecing together
pictures to complete a CSI - Canal Scene Investigation -
'Discover the Caledonian Canal' centres on the four challenges
within the John Muir Discovery Award: Discover a Wild Place;
Explore its Wildness; Conserve its Wildness and Share your
The programme complements the Curriculum for Excellence
Experience and Learning Outcomes in Health and Well-being,
Technologies and Sciences.
It has also been designed to support work towards Active Schools
outcomes; Health Promoting School status; the John Muir Trust
Discovery Award and to contribute to Eco Schools work.
British Waterways Scotland and the Waterways Trust Scotland hope
that the education programme will also encourage schools to include
the canal towpaths in their Active School Travel Plan.
A concluding half day activity session will take place at
Charleston Academy Playing Fields in May/early June. It is hoped
that S1 buddies selected for the P7 pupils will take part in the
session so that the programme supports transition between the
Between now and the concluding event, schools will be encouraged
to take advantage of their local stretch of canal as a space to
explore and use as an outdoor classroom. Schools will also have
access to British Waterways Scotland's resource box - the
Great Caledonian Canal Brainstorm Kit - for in-school
Schools will also have the opportunity to take up a number of
organised activities such as a 'mini beast hunt'; geocaching,
planting flower boxes, a towpath tidy and a wildlife survey.
Lucy MacLeod of British Waterways Scotland, who devised
the programme with the input of Stephen Wiseman of the Waterways
Trust Scotland and local teachers, explains:
"We are thrilled to be working with the Waterways Trust
Scotland on this exciting new educational resource
which we hope will strengthen links between local schools and the
Caledonian Canal on their doorstep.
"The Caledonian Canal is such a great resource for schools,
particularly those within walking distance of the waterway. It's a
safe space for schoolchildren to learn in context and through
experience. It's accessible and fully inclusive for physical
activity. It's teaming with wildlife, rich with history and full of
working engineering, whether locks, boats or bridges. There's
always something new to see and learn, throughout the year."
Stephen Wiseman, who like Lucy is based on the
Caledonian Canal, adds:
"We believe that, by bringing the canal to life through
education in innovative and curriculum-linked ways like this, we
can also help encourage a life-long sense of 'ownership', interest
and enjoyment of the Caledonian Canal which is such a fantastic
"At the same time, we hope the programme will foster a sense of
responsibility, respect and safety awareness when visiting the
waterway and the greater landscape around it."
'Discover the Caledonian Canal' builds on the educational
resources developed on the waterway over the past three years which
have included a resource for Gaelic speaking schools.
For further information on the Caledonian Canal or educational
resources across the Scottish canals, visit www.scottishcanals.co.uk
Issued by Joanna Harrison on behalf of British Waterways
Scotland. For further information, telephone 07884