The Lowland Canals – the Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland – were the thoroughfares of the Industrial Revolution in Scotland, providing a means to transport essential goods such as coal into the hearts of Glasgow and Edinburgh and stoking the fires of the numerous iron foundries that sprang up on their banks.
The majestic Caledonian Canal, conceived by Thomas Telford and surveyed by James Watt in 1773, follows the course of the Great Glen – the rift valley that provides the waterway with much of its breathtaking mountain scenery. The canal was built to provide safe passage for shipping including the British Royal Navy, avoiding the dangerous route through the Pentland Firth and around Cape Wrath. The construction of the canal also provided employment after the Highland Clearances.
Meandering through the ancient coastal kingdom known as ‘Dalriada' in the heart of Argyll, the nine-mile-long Crinan Canal links Ardrishaig at the Firth of Clyde with the picturesque village of Crinan and Scotland’s west coast. Known as “Britain’s most beautiful shortcut,” the canal allowed vessels to travel between the industrial hub of Glasgow and the Western Isles. After Queen Victoria journeyed along the canal in 1847, it became known as the Royal Route and attracted thousands of visitors and day-trippers who travelled from Glasgow on the steam ships known as Clyde Puffers. Today the canal still attracts thousands of visitors and sailors taking advantage of this most beautiful shortcut in the world.
Scottish Canals are custodians of the nation’s five remaining canals, as well as the incredible Falkirk Wheel – the world’s only rotating boat lift – and the majestic Kelpies, the largest equine sculptures on the planet.
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