Scottish Canals is kicking off 2022 with a big year of celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Union and Caledonian Canals.

Once the transport arteries that stoked the fires of the industrial revolution, today Scotland’s canals are home to cyclists, paddleboarders and residential boaters rather than coal scows and Clydesdale horses. The Caledonian in the Highlands passes through some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes while the Union connects the bustling cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, both contributing to the nation’s rich heritage whilst providing green and blue corridors of opportunity for the future.

To celebrate this landmark year, Scottish Canals is delivering an exciting calendar of activities over the next 12 months including; online experiences, canal challenges, flotillas, lighting landmark structures, local festivals and much more. All are being delivered in partnership with the Scottish Waterways for All, local authorities, community groups, economic development bodies and tourism groups.

Plan of Caledonian Canal signed by Alexander Easton 1813

“Scotland’s inland waterways are treasured historic assets that belong to the people of Scotland and we’re inviting everyone to get involved in this year-long celebration. Whether you want to set yourself a canal challenge, attend one of the fantastic events that will be taking place or even host your own, there’s plenty of opportunity to be part of this once in a lifetime occasion.

Since December over 175 people have signed up for this year’s Canal Challenge 200 and will be walking and running 200 miles along our towpaths while others are committing to getting onto the canal 200 days out of the year. We have boaters who will be sailing the Caledonian Canal for the first time and paddlers attempting all five of Scotland’s canals. We even have a group of magnet fishers planning to pull 200 items safely from the canal.

In May a colourful flotilla will bring vibrancy to the water, The Falkirk Wheel will host an action-packed day of family fun as part of it’s 20th birthday celebrations while in June a floating garden will travel along the Lowlands as part of the Dandelion event – so get involved as 2022 is shaping up to be a fantastic year on Scotland’s canals!" - Catherine Topley, CEO of Scottish Canals

With over 200 years of stories to be told surrounding Scotland’s most infamous canals; from Scotland’s iconic engineer Thomas Telford raising the level of Loch Ness by 1.2m (giving Nessie more space to play hide and seek), to Burke & Hare working as canal navvies carving out the tunnels on the Union Canal, this year of celebrations will be celebrated both online and on the ground.

Stuart Rennie, Scottish Waterways for All said: “This really is an exciting time for all the volunteer organisations based on the canals, those who live on board, and the boaters and communities who simply enjoy the benefits that our canals bring to our health and wellbeing. We can’t wait to host our Union Canal 200 flotilla this May and to share the wonderful stories of Scotland’s canals with the communities they flow through. It’s not every day we get to celebrate a 200th anniversary, never mind two, so we’re encouraging everyone to rise to the occasion to help make 2022 a year to remember.”


Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact:

Nicola Sturgeon at Scottish Canals on:

07767383557 or email Nicola.sturgeon@scottishcanals.co.uk

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 www.ScottishCanals.co.uk 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 www.scottishcanals.co.uk for more information