Forth and Clyde boating holiday

Forth and Clyde boating holiday, with friends, family or just the two of you!

Scottish Canals, Union Canal, Forth & Clyde Canal, Falkirk Wheel, Edinburgh, Glasgow

Forth and Clyde boating holiday
  • Our base is on the Forth and Clyde Canal just below the Falkirk Wheel.
  • Cruise east to Edinburgh
  • Cruise west to Glasgow
  • Visitor Centre & Cafeteria
  • Visit historic Linlithgow
  • All locks and bridges currently operated by British Waterways staff

Forth and Clyde boating holiday

Going East

Passing up through the Falkirk Wheel and two sets of locks just above it, puts you on to the Union Canal, which is lock free throughout its entire length. This will eventually take you into the heart of historic Edinburgh, with all that it has to offer. Princes Street, the main shopping thoroughfare, and Edinburgh Castle are within easy walking distance of the canal basin. En route you will pass through the 690-yard Falkirk Tunnel and over the Avon and Almond aqueducts. You will also go through the ancient burgh of Linlithgow. Here you can visit the palace and loch, stock up with water and fresh supplies, and eat in one of the many local restaurants.

The Falkirk Wheel

This is the world’s first rotating boat lift, which connects the Union Canal with the Forth and Clyde Canal, replacing a flight of locks long since filled in.

Going West and the Forth and Clyde Canal

If you choose to head west first, this can take you to the centre of Glasgow or down to the sea at Bowling on the Clyde. A Forth and Clyde canal boating holiday can be magical. Many regard the canal between Falkirk and Kirkintilloch as one of the most attractive stretches of the Scottish Lowland Canals system. Crossing from one side of Scotland to the other, this sea to sea canal used by many yachts to get to and from the west coast, is much wider than the Union.

Click to see journey times on the Forth and Clyde Canal »

Click to see journey times on the Union Canal »

About the Union Canal

The Union Canal, which runs between Edinburgh and Falkirk, is unique in Scotland being the only surviving contour canal. It follows the 240 feet (73 metre) contour line and has no locks. It was completed in 1822 and was built to carry cheap coal to Edinburgh. Construction involved building three huge aqueducts, a 690-yard tunnel and a flight of 11 locks to take it down to and connect it with the Forth and Clyde Canal. The fact that these were the only locks on the Union Canal meant that in its heyday passengers could make a quick 13-hour passage between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Very popular at that time were the night boats known as ‘hoolets’.

The advent of the Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line in 1842 led to a drastic fall off in canal passenger numbers but cargo traffic continued. In 1965 the canal was closed.

Then in 1990 a new road bridge at Linlithgow led to the reopening of that part of the canal and in 1999 work started on the Millenium Link Project, including the reconstruction of a one mile section at Wester Hailes and the creation of the magnificent rotating boat lift, the Falkirk Wheel. This resulted in the entire length of the canal being reopened in 2002.


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