Investment keeps the water level up at Loch Ness

The lifespan of an historic weir which raises the level of Loch Ness by over a metre has been extended by a century.

Custodians Scottish Canals have reinforced the structure with enough steel to construct two-and-a-half Kelpies.

The £2 million Scottish Government-funded project saw the Caledonian Canal’s Thomas Telford-designed Ness Weir, which sits at the mouth of Loch Dochfour and the River Ness near Inverness, reinforced with 10,000 metres of steel piling to strengthen the structure and safeguard it for future generations.

Constructed between 1825 and 1830, the weir raises the water level of Loch Dochfour by almost two metres, Loch Ness by 1.2 metres, and holds back around 100,000,000 cubic metres of water. Thanks to this elegant engineering solution, thousands of vessels – from holiday hire yachts to coast-to- coast fishing boats – are able to make the journey from Dochgarroch, through Loch Dochfour, and into Loch Ness each year.

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport, said: ‘The Scottish Government is delighted to have supported the integral engineering work undertaken by Scottish Canals on this historic asset.

‘Their efforts have helped secure the continued operation of the Caledonian Canal for years to come.

‘Local communities are rightfully proud of their canals and we will continue to support Scottish Canals in safeguarding and maintaining these important national assets for future generations.

‘Our canals are corridors of opportunity and we will continue to invest and work with partners to maximise their potential for the people of Scotland.’

Over the course of the eight month project, engineers utilised more than 1,000 tonnes of rock to construct a temporary access road; a helicopter to install a temporary ‘fish pass’ to retain the link between the River Ness and the mouth of Loch Dochfour; and over 800 tonnes of steel to reinforce the weir.

The steel driven into the banks of the weir – enough to construct doppelgangers of the world’s largest equine sculptures – will ensure the vital historic structure endures for another hundred years.

Richard Millar, director of infrastructure at Scottish Canals, said: ‘Ever since it was first carved through the fen, forest and heart of the Great Glen more than two centuries ago, the Caledonian Canal has played a vital role in the economy of the Highlands and Scotland itself.

‘Thanks to the hard work of our engineers and contractors, and the investment of the Scottish Government, this project has safeguarded one of the canal’s most important engineering structures, ensuring the rich built heritage of Thomas Telford’s Ness Weir is cared for into the next century and beyond.

‘We’re delighted that the thousands of yachts, paddlers, trawlers and tourists that make their way along the Caledonian Canal each year will be able to continue to explore the myths and marvels of the waterway and Loch Ness for generations to come.’