Steve’s Sojourns – Smooth Sailing on Scotland’s Canals
It may not be cruising as such but if you’re thinking about trying a narrow boat holiday on the country’s canal network I would strongly suggest you start on the Union Canal in Scotland taking the Falkirk to Edinburgh route.
We took a boat with ABC Boat Hire who have bases all over the country’s canals. The Union Canal is a contour canal with no locks and British Waterways staff operate all of the locks that access the Falkirk Wheel from above and below and are extremely helpful and professional.
The Falkirk Wheel is a stunning piece of machinery when you watch it operating but to actually be on the gondola as you access the canal is something you will never ever forget. The view from the top is exceptional as the whole of southern Scotland opens up before you.
Going over high aquaducts is an amazing experience and the tunnels albeit a bit spooky are also enjoyable. You have to wait for the traffic light to turn green before you can enter and some of them can be a bit wet with water cascading down in places!
So our first night was spent in a basin (A sort of small narrow boat carpark) with a hot meal, dominoes and wee dram or two, the boat had a TV at each end and a DVD player but a pack of cards and other games are a good idea to bring with you.
Next day around about 11 the ancient town of Linlithgow appeared on our left with its amazing crown of thorns church spire and spectacular palace of the Kings of Scotland. We were getting good at mooring now so we locked the boat up and spent a couple of hours exploring.
A couple of hours brought us to bridge No 32 at Winchburgh where the on board guidebook told us there was a pub and a takeaway
An hour later found us sitting in the Tally Ho pub about a ten minute walk from the mooring. A couple of pints later on returning to the moorings we found we had company as “Florence” had moored alongside us.
You’ll find mooring spots along the canal one of the most useful is at Bridge 55 which is only a two minute walk from Tescos where we stocked up on essentials and spent our last night.
Talking of essentials if you’re taking wine onboard take boxes rather than bottles, they’re easier to store and don’t break. The waste bins in Tescos also came in handy before we returned to Falkirk Marina to hand the boat back.
There are all sorts of places all over the country where you can pick up a boat and explore the lovely British Waterways system. ABC Boathire have 16 starting locations across the waterway network and boat sizes to accommodate 2 to 12 people, you and your family or friends can afford to kick back and relax as you enjoy watching Britain’s most stunning countryside drift by.
You can explore some amazing places and after we started the drive home we went off to have a look at the Kelpies, the fabulous sculptures dedicated to the horses that worked along the tow path.