Landmarks of the majestic Caledonian Canal will be illuminated for the first time later this month to mark 200 years to the date since the opening of Scotland’s most iconic canal. As part of a year-long calendar of activity, to celebrate the Union and Caledonian Canals’ turning 200, Scottish Canals and Mackenzie Construction will be lighting up iconic structures across the waterways to capture new and unique images to share with the world.

On Saturday 22nd October, Neptune’s Staircase, Banavie and Gairlochy Lighthouse will be lit up as a part of Scottish Canals ‘Canal illuminations’. These much-loved heritage assets will shine brightly across the dark skies of the Scottish Highlands for all to see. Boaters, cyclists, walkers, local residents and paddlers in the area between 7pm and 10pm are encouraged to watch out for some #canalmagic and share their images online. (Please note that Gairlochy Lighthouse will not be accessible to the public. Images for this light up will be shared online for viewing).

On Sunday 23rd October, Scottish Canals and MacKenzie Construction in partnership with Circus Artspace will host `Bridging Water’ at Tomnahurich Bridge in Inverness, where a special guest will switch on the lights.

Members of the public are invited to head to Tomnahurich Bridge, to watch the Kommandoren boat sail down the canal recreating part of that historic journey, 200 years to the date the first boat sailed through.

Scottish Canals, Chief Operating Officer, Richard Millar said: “This is a big year for Scottish Canals as we celebrate 200 years of the Caledonian and Union Canals. These important heritage assets have stood the test of time; providing important transport routes, bolstering the local and national economy and helping put Scotland on the map as experts in engineering and innovation.

‘We’re grateful to Mackenzie Construction for partnering with us to celebrate this landmark year and these important heritage assets. Over the past 10 months we’ve supported a number of events across both canals for local people to enjoy but through ‘Canal illuminations’ we want to remind the world our canals are here for everyone to enjoy and benefit from both now and in the future”.

The Caledonian Canal is one of the Highlands most popular visitor attractions with over 1400 boats transiting the canal each year.

In 2019 Scottish Canals invested £5.3m in replacing the lock gates at Kytra and fort Augustus to help safeguard the canal for future generations to enjoy.

Mark Wilson, Construction Director at Mackenzie Construction “Over the past 15 years we have worked closely with Scottish Canals to protect Scotland’s canal heritage whilst transforming spaces along the network for future generations so we are delighted to be partnering with Scottish Canals to celebrate this milestone moment.”

Across the weekend images and film will also be projected across the new canal boat tower at Tomnahurich Bridge.

This has been brought to life by Circus Artspace, artwork created by young people from communities across the Great Glen.

A spokesperson for Circus Artspace said: “You are invited to join us for this free outdoor event which will include a new commissioned and light projection from artist Sadie Stoddart (developed in collaboration with Wild Bird) and an artists film programme themed around waterways will be displayed on the new control tower, plus refreshments and a drop-in exhibition.

“Moored between the two Tomnahurich Bridges, the Loch Ness Barge – a historic Caledonian Canal dredger, will also showcase artwork made in collaboration with young people and communities across the Great Glen this summer during our Inland Navigation project support by Historic Environment Scotland. Aboard the boat there will be an interactive canal heritage display from Scottish Canals’ heritage officer and retired Tomnahurich Bridge Keeper.”


Notes to the editor:

About Scottish Canals

  • Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of five Scottish canals as well as the surrounding estate and The Falkirk Wheel. See or follow @ScottishCanals for more information
  • The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands, together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness
  • Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles
  • Today Scottish Canals is utilising these 18th century assets along with innovative technology to tackle modern problems. Through working with partners to create pioneering systems, Scottish Canals is helping to combat flooding and driving positive transformation in some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas
  • The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22million visits per year. See for more information