Plan Your Trip

The Forth & Clyde Canal is approximately 35 miles (57km) in length with 40 locks to negotiate, and a minimum of 21 hours should be allowed for passage. The Union Canal is approximately 31 miles (51km) in length, and is a contour canal with only one moving structure at Leamington Lift Bridge in Edinburgh. A minimum of 12 hours should be allowed for passage.

Covid-19 guidance

Border Restrictions – Quarantine

From 8th June 2020 Scotland and the UK have had in place entry restrictions at borders for Covid-19 security.  People arriving from countries without a current ‘travel corridor’ are subject to 14 days quarantine.

A list of countries with current travel corridors with Scotland can be found here.  Please note this list can and does change at very short notice.

Boaters are advised that it is NOT possible for people arriving into Scotland from a country without a current travel corridor to be aboard a vessel transiting through any of the Scottish Canals during their period of quarantine. People already aboard a vessel which has begun transit through one of the Scottish Canals when one of the travel corridors closes will however be allowed to continue their journey with the minimum number of overnight stops to complete their transit.

For more information relating to Covid-19 and how it may affect your transit please click here.

Skipper’s Guide

Our Skipper’s Guides are your complete reference guide to boating on the Scottish Canals. Your guide includes important safety information as well as details of moorings and facilities and can be purchased on arrival (£4.50) or download your free copy of the Skipper’s Guide beforehand.

Transit & Short Term Visitor Licences

All powered craft using the Scottish canals require a licence, and we have a variety of short-term and transit licences available to suit your requirements. Licences are available to purchase at the Sea Locks or Canal Offices. Download the Transit & Short Term Visitor Licences for Leisure Craft to find out more.

Locks & Bridges

Craft should have sufficient crew to assist with lockings. See the Skipper’s Guide for full details.

Single-Handed Boaters

Single-handed transit is not recommended and can be subject to delays, however if it cannot be avoided, it may be arranged with a minimum of 48 hours advance notice, and subject to staff availability. Please call 07810 794467 to arrange passage.


Please note that you will need to demast for passage through the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals. See the Skipper’s Guide for full details.

Forth & Clyde

  • LOA 19.2m (63ft). Maximum length of the inside of the smallest lock into which your boat including fenders, bowsprits, davits, tenders, rudders and any other extension fore and/or aft must fit. This can be reduced by retracting bowsprits.
  • Width/beam 6m (19ft 6in). Width of the boat including fenders.
  • Channel depth 1.83m (6ft). Boat depth below the waterline. Remember to adjust your draught for freshwater by adding 0.1m per metre of your draught..
  • Max headroom 3m (9ft 10in). Boat height above waterline.

Union Canal & The Falkirk Wheel

  • LOA 21.3m (70ft). Length overall including fenders, bowsprits, davits, tenders, rudders and any other extension fore and/or aft of the boat. This can be reduced by retracting bowsprits.
  • Width/beam 3.5m (11ft 6in). Width of the boat including fenders.
  • Channel depth 1.06m (3ft 6in). Boat depth below the waterline. Remember to adjust your draught for freshwater by adding 0.1m per metre of your draught.
  • Max headroom 2.7m (8ft 10in). Boat height above waterline.

Book Your Passage

You must book your passage through the locks and swing bridges between Falkirk and Kirkintilloch, and between Maryhill and Bowling. Call Scottish Canals on 07810 794467 to arrange.

Passage through the Falkirk Wheel is free to Scottish Canals licence holders. You must book your passage at least 24 hours in advance. Call the Basin Controller on 01324 676912. Summer operating hours are from 10am to 5pm. No boats will be taken out of hours. Please download and read The Falkirk Wheel Navigation Code before your passage.

Operating Hours

A review of boaters’ patterns of using the Lowland canals shows that certain days and times are more popular than others and that if we refine our customer service we can free up our staff to undertake much needed maintenance work on the canals.

The Summer 2020 operational times and method of operating for each area, effective from 1 April 2020, can be found here.

On the days and times that are green on the timetable a member of staff will be available to provide the range of customer services at that location.



Watch those oars on the Union Canal!

Some navigation restrictions apply between September to June between Harrison Park and Slateford Aqueduct to ensure safe shared use by both powered and unpowered craft on this popular stretch of the canal. Full details can be found within the rowers section in the Skipper’s Guide.

Canal Works & Updates

Check our Canal Works & Updates pages for details of current works along the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals.

Your local waterway office

Scottish Canals
Canal House
1 Applecross Street
G4 9SP
T: 0141 332 6936