Scottish Canals is offering the public the chance to learn about the engineering, history and wildlife of the historic Caledonian Canal and catch a glimpse of the waterway as they’ve never seen it before – without water.
As part of the works, made possible thanks to £5.35 million additional funding from the Scottish Government, the canal custodians have reduced the water level of over seven kilometres of the 200-year-old waterway at Fort Augustus in order to replace a series of lock gates. In total, around 5,160 cubic metres of water have been drained from the canal.
The replacement of the gates forms a key project in Scottish Canals’ Asset Management Strategy and will safeguard navigation of the historic waterway ahead of the busy spring boating season.
As part of the project, an open day on March 8th will offer the public the chance to see the centuries-old world that is usually hidden beneath the waterline – with a lucky few able to set foot inside the colossal lock chamber itself. Guided by Scottish Canals’ engineers, they will explore the foundations of the waterway, with the chance to glimpse the original mason’s marks carved into the canal’s rugged stone almost two centuries ago.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:
“This is a rare opportunity to witness some of the hard work undertaken by engineers to allow boaters to continue to navigate the waterways for years to come. The work being undertaken is essential to the future of the Caledonian Canal and it’s fantastic that the public can use this time to learn more about our incredible canal network.
“The Caledonian Canal plays a vital role in tourism for the region. To secure the future of the wider canal network we have provided this additional funding to enable Scottish Canals to undertake these critical repairs and we have increased Scottish Canals funding in the Scottish Budget for 2019/20 in recognition of the challenges faced in maintaining our historic waterways.”
Scottish Canals’ engineering, environment and heritage experts will also be on hand to talk visitors through the hard work that goes into caring for the incredible infrastructure and varied habitats of the Caledonian Canal in order to safeguard it for future generations to enjoy.
The open day will be held between 11:00 and 15:00 on the 8th of March 2019, with visitors asked to meet at the Memorial Hall in Fort Augustus, Canal Side, PH32 4BD.
While tours into the chamber are now fully booked, there will be the chance for visitors to explore the drained locks from the canalside. More information can be found here.
Find out more about the history of the Caledonian Canal.