Update Thursday 28 May 2020
Following today’s announcement from the First Minister from tomorrow (Friday 29 May) we will welcome back individuals to their local canal to canoe, kayak, SUP, row and fish – as long as they follow the Scottish Government guidance. These people join the local cyclists, walkers and runners currently enjoying the towpaths safely.
Local boaters are welcome back to the canals too, but locks & bridges are not in operation yet and the channel has not been prepared for the season therefore please proceed with caution.
We have multiple measures in place to protect our customers, boaters, the public and staff, and encourage you to take the necessary steps to look after yourself and others.
Be Safe. Please follow all health and safety notices and government advice during your visit. This includes keeping 2m apart from others, washing your hands, not touching shared surfaces and following the Scottish Government’s Test, Trace and Isolate if you show Covid-19 symptoms.
Be Smart. Take sensible steps to avoid breaking the guidelines, for example if an area of the towpath ahead looks busy, step out of the path to let others pass. If this is not possible, please consider turning back or finding an alternative route.
Be Kind. Be mindful of other users and our staff. Please be patient; you may need to wait and it may take you slightly longer to get where you want to go.
Scotland’s canals are great places for getting out to exercise, relax or simply enjoy the sunshine but the government advice remains ‘stay at home as much as possible’ and if you do go out on the canals or towpaths, please continue to follow government guidance. This means:
- staying local (within 5 miles of your home)
- keeping 2m away from others where possible
- not gathering in groups of more than two households (and up to a maximum of eight people)
- keeping a safe distance from moored boats and Scottish Canals’ staff at work
Parts of the Scottish Canal network have towpaths that are less than 2m wide and many 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.
Towpaths are shared spaces so please be mindful of others; look ahead, cyclists please slow down, use your bell and take sensible steps to avoid breaking the guidelines.
With 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. In the coming weeks 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.
A relaxation of outdoor working means operational staff will be preparing the canals and towpaths for the public to enjoy and our destinations teams will begin getting our tourist destinations ready for opening when the time comes.
Our offices, customer service centres and destinations, including The Falkirk Wheel and Caledonian Canal Centre, will remain closed with the majority of Scottish Canals’ staff continuing to work from home.
The safety of our staff, customers and the public remains our top priority and we will continue to follow official advice as we move into each new phase of restrictions being lifted.
For more information please visit our FAQs page.
Update Friday 22 May 2020
Yesterday (21st May 2020) the First Minister announced the publication of the Scottish Government’s route map setting out how Scotland will emerge from the Covid-19 lock down that has been in force since the end of March.
The government advice remains ‘stay at home as much as possible’, keep at least 2m apart from each other, follow official guidance around hand-washing and what to do if you have Covid-19 symptoms.
However yesterday’s announcement also set out how restrictions will begin to ease over four phases, with the first of these phases starting on 28th May 2020.
What does the Scottish Government’s Phase 1 easing of restrictions mean for Scotland’s canals?
Scottish Canals has been working for some time on a restart plan. We are now reviewing the detail to ensure our tourism destinations, visitor attractions, cafes, activity hubs, hire boats, boat movements and offices become operational when they are allowed to do so.
The safety of our staff, customers and the public remains our top priority and we will continue to follow official advice as we move into each new phase of restrictions being lifted.
What does Phase 2 of Scottish Government’s route map mean for Scottish Canals when it begins?
- people will able to do unrestricted outdoor exercise along Scotland’s canals as long as they stay within five miles of their home. They are asked to continue walking and cycling to these destinations rather than driving.
- they can sit in public places along the towpath and at our destinations, and meet either in small family groups or with people from one other household.
- the lifting of restrictions on non contact sports means that canoeing and fishing can take place on the canals from the end of next week.
- with 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.
- a relaxation of outdoor working means operational staff will be preparing the canals and towpaths for the public to enjoy and our destinations teams will begin getting our tourist destinations ready for opening when the time comes.
- however, our offices, customer service centres and destinations, including The Falkirk Wheel and Caledonian Canal Centre, will remain closed with the majority of Scottish Canals’ staff continuing to work from home.
What comes later – reopening our visitor attractions, restarting boat movements, hire boats and outdoor catering all fall into later phases but we will follow government advice on when this will happen.
The Scottish Government explained that timings for each phase will be determined by how each earlier phase affects the Covid-19 transmission rate.
Update Tuesday 12th May 2020
Over the May Holiday weekend, both the Prime Minister and the First Minister of Scotland made some significant announcements. Scottish Canals has reviewed our position in light of this and as a result have made some changes we would like to update you on.
As a Scottish public body, Scottish Canals will continue to follow Scottish Government guidance. This means our staff will continue to stay home, and our canals, commercial businesses and tourist attractions will remain closed for the time being. Currently only essential maintenance and business critical works are being carried out on the network.
We welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to allow more than one exercise per day. Whilst our towpaths remain accessible and an attractive option for local exercise, we still urge those not local to stay at home and not travel to our canals.
For local people looking to use our towpaths for exercise, our position remains the same: please follow government guidelines and stay 2m away from others where possible. We urge you to act responsibly, do not gather in groups and keep a safe distance from moored boats. Where the towpath is less than 2m wide, please limit usage of this section and consider an alternative route.
More information on using our towpaths can be found here.
We have updated our COVID-19 FAQs page, in light of recent announcements so please check here if you have any queries.
Scottish Canals is busy working on various plans, which will enable us to re-open the canals and our visitor attractions when it is safe and practical to do so. We recognise that when lockdown restrictions are eased, things are likely to vary slightly from pre-coronavirus practices, so we are also busy planning for a ‘new normal’.
Stay safe, stay indoors and let’s continue to use our canals responsibly.
Update Friday 3rd April 2020
As another weekend in lockdown comes around, we want to take the time to remind everyone to stay at home, and when spending time outside for your daily exercise please stay local. Do not travel to our canals.
Whilst the towpaths will remain open and accessible for local exercise, please follow government guidelines, be considerate of others, and stay at least 2m from others if you possibly can. We have multiple measures in place to protect our customers, boaters, volunteers and staff, and encourage you to take into consideration how you can do the same to look after yourself and others.
Keep up to date with the latest NHS information on the NHS Inform page.
Update Tuesday 24th March 2020
Following the unprecedented announcement last night by both the First Minister and Prime Minister that everyone was required to stay at home for the next three weeks to help combat the spread of COVID-19, all but critical Scottish Canals’ operations will now stop.
We are currently working to provide pump out and diesel services to residential boaters so they can manage through the next three weeks of lockdown. Offices, visitor centres and other premises will remain shut and water safety and inspection teams will only be carrying out visits when absolutely necessary to ensure the safety of the canals.
We are working currently working to close all ongoing construction sites safely as soon as possible.
Although the towpaths will remain open, we strongly urge members of the public to follow government advice and stay at home. If you do visit the canal for exercise, you must stay at least two metres away from anyone else.
For more information, please visit the NHS Inform website and follow the latest government advice to help keep you, your friends, family, our staff and other people safe.
Update Monday 23rd March 2020
In a significant escalation of measures to help combat the spread of COVID-19, as of Monday 23 March 2020 we have taken the decision to close all Scottish Canals’ operations, apart from those activities which keep the canals safe or provide vital support to our residential boaters and other tenants.
All employees will work from home, apart from a skeleton team who will continue to carry out safety inspections on our assets and monitor water control across the network, provide pump-out and water services to people who live on boats and support anyone in our residential or commercial property who needs urgent help.
Scottish Canals is following guidance from the Scottish and UK governments and, like everyone, we are taking additional measures each time this rapidly changing situation evolves.
On Friday we announced that all staff who could work from home would do so, the café and boat trips at The Falkirk Wheel would close to the public, BHive activity hub in Bowling and The Steamer Terminal in Ardrishaig were to shut and the Caledonian Canal Centre in Fort Augustus would only sell take away food and drinks. Operational staff were still operating lock gates, seeing boats through the canal where required and carrying out other operational tasks outdoors.
Following advice from the First Minister and Prime Minister on Saturday 21st March we took the further step to fully close The Falkirk Wheel visitor centre and Caledonian Canal Centre. We have taken this additional step in line with national advice around essential travel and social distancing.
We all know that nature is a powerful force for good and in these uncertain times enjoying the outdoors is vital for our mental health and wellbeing. Our 137-mile network of canals and towpaths continue to be accessible to the public. However, we encourage anyone who does use them to do so responsibly; follow government advice by avoiding unnecessary travel and keeping at least two metres away from other people. Before venturing outside please check the NHS Inform website and follow the latest government advice to help keep you, your friends, family, our staff and other people safe.
We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help answer some of your queries. If you have a questions 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.
Update Friday 20 March
During these unprecedented times the safety of our customers, volunteers, partners and staff is our top priority. We are following UK and Scottish Government advice and taking the appropriate action to protect all who live or work on, visit and enjoy Scotland’s canals.
As of Friday 20 March 2020, took the difficult decision to close main offices and core operational bases to the public. We have also closed The Steamer Terminal and The Egg Shed at Ardrishaig and BHive activity hub at Bowling Harbour. All boat trips at The Falkirk Wheel have been cancelled.
All planned public events and meetings have been postponed until further notice and whilst we continue to see boats through the canals, those staff who are able to work from home are now doing so.
With growing recognition that nature is a powerful force for good, in these uncertain times enjoying the outdoors is vital for our mental health and wellbeing. That’s why we are doing all we can to keep our 137-mile network of canals and towpaths available and safe for everyone to visit and enjoy. These linear parks run through urban and rural areas, passing through some of the most disadvantaged communities in Scotland. They provide an ideal opportunity for the one million people who live within 3km of our canals to enjoy the great outdoors that sit on their doorstep.
Before venturing outside please check the NHS Inform website and follow the latest government advice to help keep you, your friends, family, our staff and other people safe.
A huge thank you goes to our staff, volunteers and partners who continue to make this amazing canal network available for people to enjoy. Please follow us on social media for the latest updates.
We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help answer some of your questions. If they do not cover a specific query, please complete our online enquiry form here and we will do our very best to get back to you as quickly as we can.
In the event of a Scottish Canals’ emergency please call 0800 072 9900 and for all other emergencies please call Police Scotland on 999 (101 for non-emergencies).
Update 19 March
Scottish Canals are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation and are in regular contact with the Scottish Government. It is our aim to keep as many of our public spaces open as possible, some of which may be on a limited basis until instructed otherwise by authorities and their official advice.
Keeping our spaces clean and safe
We are continually assessing all of our destinations and services and have considered the impact on staff and visitors. We have taken the difficult decision to close the doors to both The Steamer Terminal and The Egg Shed in Ardrishaig for the time being. Additionally we will not be opening the BHive Activity Hub at Bowling as planned on the 1st of April – this will remain closed until further notice.
Both The Falkirk Wheel and The Caledonian Canal Centre are currently operating on winter opening hours, with this decision being reviewed daily.
The safety of staff and customers remains a top priority, and we are continuing with rigorous cleaning regimes of all operational Scottish Canals’ venues and working spaces across Scotland. All staff are continuing to readily wash their hands and practice high standards of hygiene. Hand washing and high standards of hygiene are inherent to our visitor centres, cafes and retail spaces already, and we have taken every opportunity to remind our teams to follow safe practices which are in place.
We have taken further precautionary measures which include increased table spacing in café areas and more accessible customer bins. Whilst we pride ourselves on working to reduce our carbon footprint, for the time being we will no longer serve hot drinks or water refills in reusable cups to minimise the risk of spreading the disease. If possible, we encourage all customers to use card or contactless options where necessary.
Our venues are equipped with public toilets which include hand washing and drying facilities. We urge all customers to use these on entering our venues and again before leaving.
We fully understand that many of our customers may want to change their travel plans in light of the rapidly evolving situation. We are offering all customers the opportunity to re-book their tour or accommodation within six months of their existing booking at no additional cost. Our cancellation policy remains in place, but those customers who wish to are able to choose an alternative date subject to availability.
To amend your booking for any boat trips at The Falkirk Wheel or holiday boat hires, please contact our team by email at TFW_bookings@scottishcanals.co.uk quoting or attaching your original booking reference. If you have booked via a 3rd party then please contact the booking agent you made your initial booking with. We thank you for your patience while we work to respond to your queries as quickly as possible during this busy time.
If you are booked to stay with us at the Caledonian Canal Centre Lock Chambers rooms, in the first instance please get in touch with the company that you booked through to discuss the options available to you.
We are continually reviewing the above, and will make every effort to contact customers if we have to cancel any bookings.
Unfortunately we had to take the tough decision to postpone a number of upcoming events in the interest of public safety. The Scottish Boat Rally, and all customer forums and meetings which were due to take place until the end of May are being postponed until further notice.
We are working with partners involved to find suitable alternative dates, and hope to identify alternative dates later in the year.
If you were planning to host an event on the canal and this is no longer going ahead, please let us know by getting in touch at email@example.com and we will update our website to reflect this.
Keeping you informed
Until advised otherwise, we aim to keep some of our venues and working spaces across Scotland open and operational. As the situation changes we will be consistently reviewing the latest government advice before deciding an appropriate response. We will update our customers and partners on our website and on our Facebook and Twitter – please follow us @ScottishCanals to keep up to date.
For further information on Covid-19 please refer to the following links provided by the government and NHS:
We thank you for your support in keeping one another safe during these unprecedented times.
16 March 2020
With the constant developments around Coronavirus (COVID-19) being shared online, we wanted to take the time to assure you that the well being of our customers and staff is our absolute priority. Scottish Canals will continue to adhere to the advice and protocols advised by the relevant authorities.
All of our employees are fully informed of the risks of Covid-19 and the latest public health advice. We are reviewing this advice daily to ensure excellent hygiene standards are maintained throughout our venues and working spaces across Scotland.
Scottish Canals want to assure our customers that services are operating as normal, and will continue to do so until any changes in official advice are published. We will provide further updates on our services through our website, Facebook and Twitter.