Heritage strategy for Scottish canals

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PLANS to preserve and improve Scotland’s historic canal network have been revealed.

Scottish Canals has launched a heritage strategy for the the nation’s five canals, which stretch 137 miles from coast to coast and attract millions of visitors each year.

The public body, set up to promote and conserve the waterways, has outlined how the canals, along with the buildings, bridges, aquaducts and wildlife habitats along their banks, will be looked after over the next 25 years.

Scottish Canals chief executive Steve Dunlop said conserving archive materials such as maps and technical drawings, and using the expertise of staff was an important part of the project.

He said: “As custodians of Scotland’s canals, our rich 250-year old heritage is vitally important, not just to those who live next to or use the inland waterways, but to Scotland as a whole.

“However, it is not just the physical infrastructure of the canals that is important, but the wealth of material in our archives and the staggering knowledge of our staff – some of whom are fourth-generation canal men and women.

“If we are to safeguard the canals for future generations, we need to preserve this rich heritage in an effective, visionary and engaging way. Our bold new strategy does exactly that.”

Over the next five years, Scottish Canals will carry out a survey of all its historic properties along the Forth and Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands.

The survey will look at the condition of the waterways and consider ways to improve them.

New materials such as the lime-hemp insulation at the Laggan Bothy on the Caledonian Canal, will be trialed as part of an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of traditional buildings along the waterways.

A volunteering programme that records the history of the Caledonian Canal for the National Monuments Record of Scotland will also be extended to other waterways.