Water way to celebrate the best of city's canal heritage

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A WEEK of special events is being held on Edinburgh's Union Canal to celebrate its importance to the city.

The Capital's first ever Canal Week started yesterday and runs until Sunday, with organisers British Waterways Scotland hoping it will make more people aware of the asset on their doorstep.

The event was welcomed by the Edinburgh Canal Society, who said the city's canal had helped to revive parts of Edinburgh since it was re-opened in 2001.

And at yesterday's launch the group announced plans to hold a canal fun day, starting in summer next year, to further boost awareness of the waterway.

Canal Week is being centred around Edinburgh Quay, the multi-million pound development at the eastern terminus of the Union Canal which is home to bars, restaurants and nightclubs, and which for the last three years has hosted the Fringe Festival's launch party.

It is seen as a perfect example of the way the Union Canal has been revived and regenerated over the last seven years, and will play host to events ranging from pizza making competitions to pasta art classes for children.

Visitors looking to get on to the water will be able to experience the peace and quiet of a trip on the Millennium Link Boat, which will be sailing every hour from 11am until 6pm throughout Canal Week, taking passengers along the historic canal to Harrison Park.

Steve Dunlop, director for Scotland at British Waterways, said the canal could prove to be a huge asset to the city in future years and should be celebrated.

"Edinburgh is at the centre of a canal renaissance and we must ensure that the momentum is continued and those living and working in the Capital see the full benefits of the revitalised waterway," he said.

"The industrial heyday of the canals may be long gone but the importance of the waterways to the economic, social and environmental well-being of Scotland is as significant now as it ever was."

The canal has been transformed from the state it was in seven years ago when much of it was a series of derelict ditches filled with rubbish. Thanks to a huge investment in improving both the canal and the walkways it is now considered a vibrant part of the city.

Andy Davenport, chairman of the Edinburgh Canal Society, said:"The number of people using Edinburgh's canal has been steadily increasing, and now thousands of people use it every year. I think Canal Week is a great idea, and anything which brings more people to the canal is to be welcomed. "We are hoping to start an annual fun day, in Harrison Park, next summer, as that is something which has been a huge success in other areas."

Edinburgh Canal Week runs until Sunday.

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