The TV programme Great Canal Journeys, with Prunella Scales and Timothy West, has proved a rather unlikely ratings success with viewing figures of up to 2.2 million.
In part, this is due to the appealing nature of two well-loved actors, but it is also a sign of our enduring fondness for canals. Despite being a product of the Industrial Revolution, they can be wonderfully idyllic. And messing about on a canal is a bit less frantic, and dangerous, than attempting to do so on a river. But canals should not just be for holidaymakers with a yen for slow-speed travel, they can still be useful as a means of transport.
So the news that market gardener Iain Withers is to return freight to the Union Canal – using it to take his vegetables from Narrowboat Farm to nearby Linlithgow for sale, might just be the start of something historic. Withers reports that “people are getting excited” on social media about his pilot scheme and he is starting to worry whether he will have enough vegetables to meet the demand.
We wish him and other canal enthusiasts working for a revival every success.