Scottish house-buyers urged to try canal-boat living
SCOTLAND’S canals are opening up to landlubbers willing to push the boat out and set up life on a floating home.
A nationwide campaign to help people try canal-boat living was launched yesterday at Leamington Wharf in Edinburgh.
Bosses at Scottish Canals hope more will take the plunge and take advantage of the hidden secrets of the country’s waterways.
The Living on Water drive takes inspiration from successes in Ireland, Holland, London and Scandinavia in creating vibrant houseboat communities.
It begins with two pilots, one at Leamington Wharf on the capital’s Union Canal, and the other at Seaport Marina at Muirtown Basin, on the Caledonian Canal in Inverness.
Eight residential moorings will be released for auction on the Union Canal, close to leisure and business accommodation at Edinburgh Quay, with 16 further moorings close to Inverness city centre.
Among prospective buyers being sought are businesses that would consider operating on the canals. Iain Withers, 33, who is self-employed, spent £30,000 on a boat and leases a mooring for less than £2,000 a year to live on the canal with his 30-year-old artist partner Sarah.
He said: “We thought it would be an adventure. We love living on the canal. It is our home. We did not want to pay rent for a flat, throwing money away, and to get a mortgage would be three or four times as much.
“One day I have a job in Edinburgh, the next in Glasgow, and I can travel by boat. I don’t know how much the moorings could be auctioned for, but we pay for a mooring spot at Auchinstarry – which can cost between £500 to £2,000 – while paying a low fee of around £100 to use the canal. It is a great way to live.”
A refurbished narrowboat barge, Blue Hue, has been transformed into a showhome boat at Leamington Wharf where marketing agent Rettie will offer viewings for those keen to get a taste of what it will be like to live on the water.
The 24 moorings will be released individually by auction which will be held online later this year.
Katie Hughes, director of estates at Scottish Canals, said: “The 200-year-old waterways have really been transformed in recent years to a place where they help stimulate regeneration and sustainable economic development, make a significant contribution to the tourism economy and – with 25 million visits a year – are an increasingly important part of the local community for recreation and exercise.
“The time is right now to show people what benefits they can find from choosing this alternative, waterway lifestyle.
“Living on a boat certainly offers a greener, more relaxed and more individual way of life. It can also be significantly cheaper than living on land. Today’s boats are also warm, comfortable and well-specified coming in a range of styles and sizes, so this lifestyle can appeal to a wide range of people.”
At present, there are only 25 official residential moorings on Scottish canals and these are on the Lowland canals: five at Ratho on the Union Canal and the rest at Auchinstarry, Bowling and Applecross Street on the Forth and Clyde Canal.
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