Visitors are being offered the chance to learn about the engineering, history and wildlife of the historic Caledonian Canal and catch a glimpse of the waterway as they’ve never seen it before – without water.
As part of its wide-ranging programme of winter maintenance, Scottish Canals have reduced the water level of over seven kilometres of the 200-year-old waterway at Fort Augustus in order to replace a series of lock gates. In total, around 5,160 cubic metres of water – the equivalent of over 6.5 million bath tubs – have been drained from the canal.
The replacement of the gates forms a key project in Scottish Canals’ Asset Management Strategy and will safeguard navigation of the historic waterway ahead of the busy spring boating season.
As part of the project, an open day on 8 March will offer the public the chance to see the centuries-old world that is usually hidden beneath the waterline – with a lucky few able to set foot inside the colossal lock chamber itself.
Guided by Scottish Canals’ engineers, they will explore the foundations of the waterway, with the chance to glimpse the original mason’s marks carved into the canal’s rugged stone almost two centuries ago.
Scottish Canals’ engineering, environment and heritage experts will also be on hand to talk visitors through the hard work that goes into caring for the incredible infrastructure and varied habitats of the Caledonian Canal in order to safeguard it for future generations to
Richard Millar, director of infrastructure at Scottish Canals, said: ‘The 200-year-old Caledonian Canal is one of the Highlands most popular visitor attractions with over 1,400 boats transiting the canal each year.
‘However, many visit the waterway without ever seeing all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, and below the waterline, to look after the heritage, engineering, and habitats of Scotland’s waterways to ensure they continue to thrive for future generations to enjoy.
‘The work we’re undertaking at Fort Augustus is a fantastic chance for the public to see the scale of work that goes into caring for the incredible infrastructure of the Caledonian Canal; glimpse the craftsmanship of the waterway’s 18th century design as it exists below the waterline; and take a tour of the canal’s history, engineering, and habitats led by the people who know it best – our passionate and knowledgeable staff.
‘We may be their custodians, but these canals belong to the people of Scotland and are there for everyone to enjoy. I’d encourage everyone to come along to the open day to glimpse the Caledonian Canal as they’ve never seen it before and learn more about the hard work we undertake to care for the built and natural heritage of this amazing asset.’
The open day will be held between 11am and 3pm on 8 March, with visitors asked to meet at the Memorial Hall in Fort Augustus, Canal Side, PH32 4BD.
While tours into the chamber are now fully booked, there will be the chance for visitors to explore the drained locks from the canalside. More information can be found at https://www.scottishcanals.co.uk/events/explore-the-hidden-depths-of-the-
For a look at the history of the Caledonian Canal, click HERE.