Scottish Canals celebrated a huge landmark this month as freight returned to its historic roots for the first time in many decades.

The canal stepped back in time to return to its original purpose as it helped to facilitate cargo along its waterways.

Setting off at Corpach Sea Lock, Fort William, on the Caledonian Canal the load which included excavators made its way along the canal.

The freight was transported as part of exploratory works which will be carried out at the site of what would be the UK’s first large-scale pumped storage scheme to be developed in the 30 years at Loch Lochy in the Great Glen in the Scottish Highlands.

The findings of the exploratory works will be used to inform the final design of the project and will be an important consideration in SSE Renewables’ final decision on whether to proceed with the Coire Glas project.

This year Scottish Canals celebrated the 200th anniversary of the canal originally built to establish a safe passage for vessels and the fishing industry, that would avoid the dangerous route through the Pentland Firth and around Cape Wrath.

Scottish Canals Interim Chief Executive Officer Richard Millar said: 

“This is a real landmark moment for the Caledonian Canal and made even more memorable as this year we were able to celebrate the Caledonian Canal’s 200th birthday.

“The canal is an important heritage asset that has stood the test of time; providing important transport routes, bolstering the local and national economy and helping to put Scotland on the map as experts in engineering and innovation.

“These latest freight movements will also go a long way in our commitment to supporting Scotland’s journey to Net Zero and we are always open to working in partnerships in this area.”

SSE Renewables’ Project Director for Coire Glas Ian Innes said: 

“Coire Glas is one of the most significant engineering projects to take place in the UK for decades and the commencement of these exploratory works is a great milestone for everyone on the Coire Glas Project Team and at SSE Renewables.

“As a great feat of engineering, it is fitting that in its 200th year that we can celebrate the role the Caledonian Canal has provided by transporting freight to the Coire Glas project site.

“The canal has made a vital contribution in the first steps to creating a pumped storage scheme, which in itself is expected to become an historic achievement in engineering an indispensable part of the UK and Scotland’s renewable energy infrastructure.”