On this page you will find answers to our FAQs surrounding Scottish Canals business operations during Covid-19.
Frequently Asked Questions – updated 28th May
We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help answer some of your queries. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please complete our online enquiry form and we will do our very best to get back to you as quickly as we can. Please follow us on social media for the latest updates @scottishcanals.
The Scottish and UK Governments are giving different advice. Which advice is Scottish Canals following?
As a public body in Scotland Scottish Canals will continue to follow advice from the Scottish Government.
Have there been any substantial changes following the First Minister’s update on Thursday 28th May 2020?
In line with the latest Scottish Government’s update that non-contact sports are now permitted, fishing, SUPs and paddlesport will now be allowed on Scotland’s canals. These sports should only be undertaken within a five mile radius of your home and you must follow all other government advice, which includes maintaining social distance at all times, not touching hard surfaces that other people use and only using your own personal equipment. Businesses or organisations which provide onwater activities that involve sharing equipment are not permitted to operate at this time.
As construction begins to get underway again, we will start preparatory works for projects along Scotland’s canals. The relaxation of outdoor working restrictions means operational staff will begin preparing the canals and towpaths for you to enjoy and our destinations teams will start getting our tourist destinations ready for opening when the time comes. Please ensure you maintain a 2m distance at all times from Scottish Canals’ staff and other walkers if you see them on the network.
Our canals are now open for short boat journeys that do not involve lock gate or bridge openings, at this time for residential, leisure and commercial customers. If you live within five miles of your boat and plan to visit for recreation please ensure you follow all government guidelines and read the boaters FAQs below for further guidance. Our gates, bridge opening service and booking system remain closed for the time being.
Whilst our towpaths remain open for unrestricted outdoor exercise along Scotland’s canals you are now also permitted to use our public outdoor spaces for recreational purposes, for example to sit by the canal and read. It is also now acceptable for one household to meet up with another household, in groups of up to 8 people, in public places along the towpaths and at our destinations but with physical distancing required. Please remember our towpaths are multi-use spaces with some sections extremely narrow and busy. If you are planning to meet with another household please ensure you take this into consideration when planning your visit.
Please where possible continue to walk and cycle rather than drive and stay within five miles of your home.
All our visitor centres, attractions and offices remain closed.
Can still I go cycling and walking along the towpath?
Yes but please stay local (within 5 miles of your home), keep at least two metres away from others and be mindful of others (slow down, use your bell and take sensible steps to avoid breaking the guidelines. Certain sections of our towpaths may be less than 2m wide and run through popular and busy locations. Please limit usage of these sections and consider if there is an alternative route you can use to reduce congestion and numbers of towpath users. Please refer to NHS Inform for guidance and Sustrans for more information on cycling.
You can read more information regarding your access rights during Covid-19 here
Can I fish on the canal or go paddling, kayaking or use an SUP?
Yes, as long as government guidelines are followed (see above).
For more useful information on paddling visit Scottish Canoe Association.
When will Scottish Canals’ offices and visitor attractions re-open?
As a public body, we are following advice from the Scottish Government and are aligning how we restart different parts of our organisation and activities with the Scottish Government’s phased approach. All visitor centres, offices, cafes and holiday accommodation remain closed until further notice. As the government restrictions gradually lift, we will respond accordingly.
What should I do if I visit an area that’s extremely busy?
During lockdown we have seen increased usage of our towpaths and public spaces, this is even more during nice weather.
If you arrive at a public space, for example The Falkirk Wheel, The Kelpies or Edinburgh Quay, and it is so busy that you can’t observe social distancing, please act responsibly and leave or amend your plans to protect yourself and others. Additionally when planning your visit to a popular spot on the network, please take the weather into account.
Can I still volunteer at this time?
We have suspended all volunteering activities for the foreseeable future. We will relaunch as soon as we are able to do so safely.
I have applied for a job with Scottish Canals, will the recruitment go ahead?
Please keep checking the ‘Join our team’ section of our website for the latest updates.
Will events now start taking place on the canal or towpath?
Scottish Canals is not organising any public events and all events that were planned have been postponed for the foreseeable future. This includes The Scottish Boat Rally and all customer forums and meetings. We are working with partners to find alternative dates for holding these online and will update our website and social media channels as soon as we are able to do so.
Can I host an event on the canal or towpath later in the year?
We will resume events along the canal network when it is safe to do so. It is not clear when this will be and we are not accepting requests for events for the time being. We will review this in line with Scottish Government guidelines.
Will Scottish Canals begin looking after the canals?
Safety critical operations, including managing water control and inspecting the assets, will continue to be undertaken with additional non-safety critical canal operations such as grass-cutting, litter-picking and weed cutting starting to take place.
Are you emptying rubbish bins on the canal?
During lockdown we are emptying bins along the network once per week. As visitor numbers increase we will review this to reduce the risk of bins overflowing.
We are asking people to help us by taking their litter home.
What is happening with Scottish Canals’ larger constructions projects? Are they going ahead?
In line with the Scottish Government route map for moving out of lock down and construction beginning to get underway again, Scottish Canals will start preparatory works for projects such as the Claypits Nature Reserve and Stockingfield Bridge in North Glasgow. We will also restart the final phase of works to strengthen the embankment at Linlithgow and complete the lock replacement works at Fort Augustus – both of which were interrupted due to lockdown. Follow us on Twitter @scottishcanals for all the latest project updates.
Will The Kelpies still be lit up at night?
The Kelpies will shine blue into the night for the foreseeable future, as we stand as one in support of our NHS and all key workers who continue to support us through these challenging times.
Can I visit The Kelpies and are the car park and toilet facilities open at The Helix for me to use?
The car park and toilet facilities at The Helix Park and Kelpies remain closed.
The Falkirk Wheel
When will you reopen the Visitor Centre and toilets?
The visitor centre and toilets remain closed in line with Government advice.
As the restrictions begin to lift our destinations teams will begin getting our tourist destinations ready for opening. We plan to open in phases, in line with the government’s route map out of lockdown, so please be patient as it will take a while to get the full site open.
Is the car park open?
No, the car park currently remains closed and we would encourage you to walk or cycle when visiting The Falkirk Wheel site.
I live locally and plan to walk to The Wheel to meet another household, can we get a coffee when we are there?
At present all of our outdoor food outlets and Visitor Centre remains closed.
As the restrictions begin to lift our destinations teams will begin getting our tourist destinations ready for opening.
We are hoping to open our Airstream catering van as part of the second phase of Scottish Governments route map out of lock down.
I was planning to bring my children to the play parks. Are these open?
Our play parks remain closed in line with government advice.
Can we still go and see The Falkirk Wheel?
The current advice from the Scottish Government is to stay local (within 5 miles) to your home. If you live locally and plan to visit The Falkirk Wheel or enjoy our local towpaths and public spaces please ensure you follow government advice and social distance. You are also encouraged to walk or cycle there.
Please note The Falkirk Wheel car park remains closed.
I had booked a boat trip at The Falkirk Wheel, what happens now?
We are offering all customers the opportunity to re-book boat trips within six months of existing bookings at no additional cost. To amend your booking please email TFW_bookings@scottishcanals.co.uk and quote your original booking reference.
If you have booked via a third party including Itison then please contact your booking agent.
Caledonian Canal Centre
Are you open?
In line with Scottish and UK government guidance, the Caledonian Canal Centre café and Lock Chamber rooms are closed.
As the restrictions begin to lift our destinations teams will begin getting our tourist destinations ready for opening when the time comes. We hope to bring you a take away offering in the first instance, follow us @caledoniancanalscotland to find out the latest news from the Caledonian Canal Centre.
I have a room booked with you, can I still come?
In line with government advice, our Lock Chamber rooms are now closed and we are asking all customers with outstanding bookings to rebook for another date during the next six months.
Can I cancel or postpone my booking for your Lock Chambers?
Yes. All our bookings are made through Airbnb, Booking.com or Expedia. These operators have changed their cancellation policies in line with the current situation and if you want to re-book or cancel you can do so through the booking platform you originally used. Only if you booked through Airbnb we are able to change your booking for you in case you wanted to postpone. Cancellation is done by guests direct through the Airbnb platform.
What if my question isn’t answered and I want to get in touch? Send enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org for Lock Chambers related questions or to email@example.com for questions related to the Caledonian Canal Centre.
Can I book to stay at the Lock Chambers for later in the year?
We are taking provisional bookings for Lock Chambers from 11th July 2020. These are subject to possible cancellation or rebooking in line with Scottish Government guidelines.
My children are booked to go to the BHive activity days at Bowling this summer, will this go ahead?
All activity days have now been cancelled. If you have an existing booking with us please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a refund.
Will any events take place over the summer at BHive?
All events are cancelled for the foreseeable future.
Can I get access to the lower basin at Bowing Harbour?
As a result of safety measures for managing Covid-19, access to the lower basin is restricted to boaters, commercial tenants and Scottish Canals staff at present.
We will be opening the lower basin during day light hours in due course.
Is The Egg Shed and Steamer Terminal open in Ardrishaig?
No, these venues remain closed to the public.
I have hired a holiday boat. Will I still be able to go on holiday?
We would advise you to contact your booking agent for the latest update on your holiday.
Can I book for 2021
Some hire boat companies are taking bookings for 2021. Please check with them directly.
You can view our hire boat operators here.
Can I move my boat around the network?
Our canals are open for short journeys that do not involve lock gate or bridge openings. We would also advise a level of caution when carrying out these journeys as normal weed cutting and channel clearance will not have been carried out during lockdown and will take us some time to rectify.
Please note the government guidelines recommend you stay within the local area of your home (within 5 miles) and overnight stays are not permitted at this time.
If you are planning to visit your boat please ensure you follow government guidelines on handwashing and social distancing at all times.
Are boater facilities still available and being maintained?
Yes, we continue to provide a service, with our employees and partners working to keep our waterways safe. Residential boaters’ facilities will remain open in those locations where we have residential mooring customers. All others will remain closed.
I haven’t moved my boat since last season, is there anything I need to do before I sail?
If your boat hasn’t been used for some time, you should take time to ensure the vessel is ready for operation for example; fresh water lines, hoses, and tanks flushed through. Fuel and air filters should be cleaned or replaced, fuel quality checked, mooring lines checked, engines run and steering systems checked.
For more useful information visit RYA Scotland.
I have spotted areas of the canal overgrown and there’s a lot of weed in parts of the water are you planning to clear this?
We have a limited number staff working on the network and up until now our staff have been prioritising safety critical tasks. In line with the Scottish Government’s phase 1 of restrictions being eased, operational staff will now be getting out to begin weed-cutting and other vegetation management tasks.
Please continue to report any obstructions to navigation through email@example.com
Will my mail continue to be delivered to the office as normal?
As our premises are closed, we are advising customers to make alternative arrangements for how and where their mail is delivered.
What should I do if I am self-isolating and need help but don’t have any support networks?
Please contact us using the details above. We will work with partners to support boaters self-isolating as best we can without adding to the risk of transmission. We also encourage you to contact the Lowland Canals Association or Great Glen Canal Users Association if you require support from other boaters.
I’m over 70 and live on my boat, do I need to self-isolate?
Please follow government advice as set out on the NHS Inform website.
How can I help my fellow boaters?
We know that most of the boating community is very supportive of one another. In such times as these, we ask all boaters to look out for the more vulnerable members of the community. This could mean saving spaces near facilities for those in need, and not overstaying on popular moorings. If you are aware of a boater who may be vulnerable please let us know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I make a to Scottish Canals?
For all payments, please email email@example.com
Will I be entitled to a payment holiday for my mooring or boat licence?
All boating customers have automatically received a three month break in their navigation licence payments for the months of April, May and June. If you are having difficulties with financial hardships and payments please get in touch with us here.
How do I reduce the risk of transmission through touching facilities that have been used by others?
In line with the government advice to all, it is advisable to wash your hands or use hand gels frequently to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus. We also encourage boaters to use facility blocks sparingly at this time and make use of their own onboard facilities wherever possible. If you do use the facilities, please clean them for other users.
What do I do if I’m a residential boater in self-isolation and am running low on essential provisions?
We know that the boating community is a close-knit one and that in many areas people will be looking out for each other and helping with things like shopping for those who are having to self-isolate. We also encourage you to contact the Lowland Canals Association or Great Glen Canal Users Association.
Will I still be able to get access to pump out and fuel when I need it?
Scottish Canals operational staff are working to provide boaters with fuel and pump out in the short term but under the current circumstances, we are reviewing how to continue delivering these critical services to residential customers in the coming weeks.
Scottish Canals operational staff are working to provide boaters with fuel and pump out during these difficult times. In order to arrange fuel and pump out please contact Boat Movements on 07810 794 467. Please be aware that residential boaters will be given priority during this period.
My boat safety scheme (BSS) certificate is due.
We understand that customers whose BSS certificate is due to expire shortly will not be able to arrange an inspection. We are therefore deferring this requirement to the 31st of July 2020 at which stage we will work with you to ensure your BSS Certificate is renewed as quickly as possible.
Can I book a licence for 2021?
We are looking to introduce an online booking facility for navigation licences, please keep an eye on scottishcanls.co.uk for the latest update on this.