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Scottish Canals are in charge of the five canals in Scotland


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Scottish Canals’ collection of historical manuscripts dates back to 1796 and documents the construction, management and administration of the nation’s canals from when they were first carved across the heart and highlands of Scotland to their ongoing renaissance today.

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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Scottish Canals

We look after the Scottish canals, conserving them as part of our heritage, and transforming them to play a vital role in Scotland today. Discover them yourself by boat, boot or bike for the perfect family day out




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Map or Chart of the Caledonian Canal, or Inland Navigation from the Western to the Eastern Sea by Fort William and Inverness
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Plan of the Forth and Clyde Canal at Maryhill
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Plan of the Crinan Canal from the March of Dunadry on the South to Port Ree on the North No. III
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Plan of the Crinan Canal through the Estate of Oakfield Plan No. I
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Plan of part of the Monkland and Kirkintilloch Railway through the Lands of Garngaber belonging to Alexander McGrigor Esquire
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Plan of the Caledonian Canal and lands belonging thereto Part I