The 200-year-old Thomas Telford-built Ness Weir on the Caledonian Canal is undergoing a major refurbishment as custodians Scottish Canals aim to extend the structure’s lifespan by a century.
The £2 million Scottish Government-funded project will see the weir, which sits at the mouth of Loch Dochfour and the River Ness, reinforced with 500 metres of steel piling to strengthen the structure and safeguard it for future generations. Work is currently underway, with the project scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.
Constructed between 1825 and 1830, the weir raises the water level of Loch Dochfour by almost two metres and Loch Ness by 1.2 metres and retains around 100,000,000m3 of water. Thanks to this elegant engineering solution, vessels are able to transit through Dochgarroch lock, through Loch Dochfour, and into Loch Ness.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “The Scottish Government is delighted to support this fantastic project which will ensure the future of the Ness Weir as an important historic asset. Our funding has enabled Scottish Canals to undertake the work necessary to maintain and improve this structure which is integral to the continuing operation of the Caledonian Canal.
“We will continue to support Scottish Canals in maintaining these important national assets for future generations. The recent investment in our canals has led to local communities across Scotland gaining pride again in their canals, leading to increased use, improved safety, leisure and community based activity for all to enjoy.”
Part of the project will involve the installation of a temporary fish pass linking the River Ness and the mouth of Loch Dochfour. This will ensure continued upstream and downstream movement of fish whilst the existing pass is blocked off for installation of the strengthening piles. Scottish Canals is liaising with SEPA and the Ness District Salmon Fishery Board throughout the project to ensure the habitat’s fish population is unaffected by the works.
Due to the large scale of the works, the canal towpath between Tomnahurich Swing Bridge and Dochgarroch Lock will be closed to the public until the completion of the project. The opposite towpath will remain open for use. The closed towpath will be repaired at the end of the project, removing potholes and improving the surface for all users. This towpath is expected to be re-opened by mid-December 2017. The works are not expected to have any impact on boat traffic.