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.
Frequently Asked Questions – updated 24th March
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.
Can still I go cycling, paddling and walking along the towpath?
The towpaths and canals are open but we would encourage everyone to follow government advice and stay at home. If you do go out, you must keep at least two metres away from anyone else. Please refer to the NHS Inform website for more information.
When will Scottish Canals’ offices and visitor attractions re-open?
We are following advice from the UK and Scottish governments and responding accordingly. All visitor centres, offices, cafes and holiday accommodation will remain closed until further notice.
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.
I have applied for a job with Scottish Canals, will the recruitment go ahead?
Recruitment for all but one vacancy is currently on hold. Please keep checking the ‘Join our team’ section of our website for the latest updates.
I had planned an event/was planning to attend an event on the canal or towpath, will this go ahead?
All public events and meetings organised by Scottish Canals have been postponed for the foreseeable future including The Scottish Boat Rally, all customer forums and meetings which were due to take place until the end of May. We are working with partners to find alternative dates and as soon as we have these we’ll update our website and social media channels. If you were planning to host an event on the canal, please follow government guidance and take the necessary measures.
Will Scottish Canals still be looking after the canals?
All Scottish Canals’ operations have been suspended, apart from those that are safety critical. This includes managing water control and inspecting the assets which are only being undertaken when absolutely necessary.
What happens if Scottish Canals’ staff have to self-isolate?
We have contingency plans in place to ensure we can carry out critical tasks.
What is happening with Scottish Canals’ larger constructions projects? Are they going ahead?
Following government advice, all construction projects are being stopped, including work on the Highline at Bowling, the Claypits Nature Reserve in Glasgow and Lock 16. We expect the major safety projects on the canal at Linlithgow and Fort Augustus to be complete shortly,
Will The Kelpies still be lit up at night and can I visit them?
The Kelpies will be cycling through their regular colour programme each night, but we are unfortunately unable to accommodate any Kelpies lighting requests during this time as our staff will not be travelling across the country.
The Falkirk Wheel
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.
I plan to go for a walk to The Wheel, is there anywhere I can get something to eat and a hot drink?
In line with all other cafes, restaurants and bars, the Falkirk Wheel café and outdoor catering units are now shut to minimise the spread of infection. This will change when we get official advice to do so.
I was planning to bring my children to the play parks are these open?
The Falkirk Wheel site is now closed to the public.
Can we still go and see the wheel?
You are advised to follow government advice and stay indoors.
Caledonian Canal Centre
Are you still open?
In line with Scottish and UK government guidance, the Caledonian Canal Centre café and Lock Chamber rooms are closed.
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.
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.
Is The Egg Shed and Steamer Terminal open in Ardrishaig?
No, these venues are now closed to the public.
I have hired a holiday boat. Will I still be able to go on holiday?
The holiday hire boats in Falkirk are no longer open to bookings.
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.
Does Scottish Canals have any general advice for 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 email@example.com.
Will I be entitled to a payment holiday for my mooring or boat licence?
We are not able to offer payment holidays but please get in touch with us if you are having payment difficulties.
What happens if Scottish Canals’ staff have to self-isolate?
We have contingency plans in place to ensure we can continue to provide an emergency level of service.
Are boater facilities still available and being maintained?
We have contingency plans to ensure we continue to provide a service, with our employees and partners working to keep our waterways safe. Boaters’ facilities will remain open in those locations where we have residential mooring customers. All others will be closed.
How do I reduce the risk of transmission through touching facilities or locks 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.
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.
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 for a period of 3 months and will continue to monitor the situation.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.