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Scottish Canals to mark 200th anniversary of Caledonian Canal with calendar of activities


By Val Sweeney

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The Caledonian Canal marks its 200th anniversary this year.
The Caledonian Canal marks its 200th anniversary this year.

Events ranging from walking and running challenges to online experiences will mark the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Caledonian Canal.

The 60-mile waterway, connecting Inverness with Fort William, opened in 1822, having taken 20 years to complete.

Engineered by Scottish civil engineer Thomas Telford, it cost £900,000 and provided employment for thousands of locals during construction.

At the time of its opening, the Inverness Courier reported the official opening ceremony included the firing of cannons, music by the Band of Inverness-shire Militia and the maiden voyage on the canal by the Lochness Steam Yacht, accompanied by two smacks.

Scottish Canals will mark its bicentenary along with the 200th anniversary of the Union Canal, which runs from Falkirk to Edinburgh.

It states: “The Caledonian in the Highlands passes through some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes while the Union connects the bustling cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, both contributing to the nation’s rich heritage whilst providing green and blue corridors of opportunity for the future.”

The organisation says it is delivering an exciting calendar of activities to celebrate the landmark year, including online experiences, canal challenges, flotillas, lighting landmark structures and local festivals.

They will be delivered in partnership with the Scottish Waterways for All, local authorities, community groups, economic development bodies and tourism groups.

The Caledonian Canal connects Inverness and Fort William.
The Caledonian Canal connects Inverness and Fort William.

Catherine Topley, chief executive of Scottish Canals, said: “Scotland’s inland waterways are treasured historic assets that belong to the people of Scotland and we’re inviting everyone to get involved in this year-long celebration.

“Whether you want to set yourself a canal challenge, attend one of the fantastic events that will be taking place or even host your own, there’s plenty of opportunity to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

“Since December over 175 people have signed up for this year’s Canal Challenge 200 and will be walking and running 200 miles along our towpaths while others are committing to getting onto the canal 200 days out of the year.

“We have boaters who will be sailing the Caledonian Canal for the first time and paddlers attempting all five of Scotland’s canals.

“We even have a group of magnet fishers planning to pull 200 items safely from the canal.”

Stuart Rennie, of Scottish Waterways for All, said: “This really is an exciting time for all the volunteer organisations based on the canals, those who live on board, and the boaters and communities who simply enjoy the benefits that our canals bring to our health and wellbeing.

“We can’t wait to host our Union Canal 200 flotilla this May and to share the wonderful stories of Scotland’s canals with the communities they flow through.

“It’s not every day we get to celebrate a 200th anniversary, never mind two, so we’re encouraging everyone to rise to the occasion to help make 2022 a year to remember.”

Work delayed on historic canal


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