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Scottish Canal News - June/July 2020

What changes are taking place during Phase Two of the Scottish Government’s route map out of the crisis?
Phase Two will see an increase in the volume of outdoor work being carried out by our operational team in areas such as vegetation management, weed-cutting, litter-picking and channel clearance to prepare the canals for navigation.

The Forth & Clyde team will begin weed cutting at Twechar on Monday 22nd June 2020 and make their way to Kirkintilloch followed by The Kelpies in early July while the Union team will be weed cutting from Edinburgh to Linlithgow, arriving in Falkirk by mid-July.

From Saturday 27th June 2020, in line with a reintroduction of takeaway outlets during phase one, Scottish Canals will reopen the Horsebox at The Kelpies and the Airstream Food Truck and outdoor pizza oven at The Falkirk Wheel, selling take away cakes, pizza, ice cream, teas, coffees and soft drinks.

Our offices, visitor centres, indoor cafes, holiday accommodation, and locks and bridges remain closed until Phase 3 with the majority of our staff continuing to work from home.

Boating on the canal
During Phase One we welcomed back leisure boaters, who live within five miles of their mooring, and residential boaters to use the canals for local boating. However, there are still numerous restrictions in place, including no operation of locks and bridges, limited services and limited staff available on the ground. This remains the position during Phase Two.

However, we are pleased to let you know that Scottish Canals is planning to reopen the canals to navigation in line with the announcement that Scotland’s tourism sector is preparing to reopen during Phase Three of the Scottish Government route map on 15th July 2020. Subject to the confirmation of Phase Three from that date, the canals will open to navigation as follows:

  • Crinan Canal – 17th July 2020- Pre Booking required
  • Caledonian Canal – 22nd July 2020
  • Lowland Canals – 22nd July 2020

While boats will be able to transit the canals, the operating hours and days still have to be confirmed. This information will be shared with you as soon as we are able.

Navigation licence fee extension
When the canals were closed to navigation at the beginning of lockdown, we decided that all mooring customers would receive three months’ navigation licence free of charge to cover the period from April to June 2020. We have decided to extend the concession to cover July 2020 with all mooring customer getting a credit note issued to their account next month in addition to April, May and June.

Please contact Scottish Canals via our Coronavirus Hub if you are having difficulty keeping up with your payments.

Boat Safety Certificate Deferment
When we last wrote to you, we informed you that the deadline of the Boat Safety Certificate was being extended to 31st July 2020. However, we recognise that it may not be possible to arrange an inspection within this timeframe and therefore, we are extending this period once more, until September 2020.

Our moorings team will be working alongside customers and boat safety examiners to prioritise vessels and ensure all inspections are carried out safely and in a timely manner.

Managing increased waterway and towpath use
Our Welcome Back campaign continues to encourage all users to Be Safe. Be Smart. Be Kind. We will continue working with Sustrans, Ramblers Scotland, Cycling Scotland and UK Cycling to encourage everyone who uses the canals, towpaths, reservoirs and destinations to:

  • Be Safe - follow safety advice from NHS Inform and the Scottish Government
  • Be Smart - act sensibly, move out of the way of walkers and cyclists coming towards you, dismount bicycles, avoid popular locations and busy times and avoid touching hard surfaces such as benches
  • Be Kind – please give our staff space as they tackle the backlog of canal maintenance, get the canal and our destinations ready for each phase of work and restart our construction sites. We are also asking people to be mindful that some towpath users may not hear or see you coming, or be able to move out of the way quickly enough.

We have also updated the Covid-19 hub of our website with refreshed Frequently Asked Questions, downloadable materials and a checklist for anyone who wants to visit the canals. You can access all of this information by clicking the following link: Scottish Canals Coronavirus Hub

What safety measures is Scottish Canals putting in place?
The safety and wellbeing of customers, staff and visitors is our top priority. Scottish Canals will adopt strict social distancing, segregation and hygiene measures to minimise the risk of transmitting Covid-19 as we deliver phase two and continue to prepare for later phases. This includes:

  • Installing cough screens at transaction points across all our destinations
  • Managing queues to make sure people keep apart using floor markers and one-way systems
  • Displaying signage at key locations to remind people of the importance of physical distancing and good hand and cough hygiene

 

Key construction dates to note
Following the First Minister’s announcement, we will be resuming work on a number of our big construction projects which were stopped due to coronavirus. Please note the following dates where there may be impact to towpath and canal use:

  • Wilcoxholm embankment works on the Union Canal - The towpath is closed from Monday 15th June between St Michael’s Aqueduct and Bridge 42 for approximately 6 weeks. There is a diversion route in place between Manse Road to The Park Bistro.
  • Lock gate replacement at Fort Augustus on the Caledonian Canal – the south side road will be closed from 18th June to 24th July 2020 to enable the old gates from the bottom of the flight to be removed, the operating and control systems to be finalised and new gates to be commissioned so navigation can restart later in summer.
  • Garscube Bridge and Claypits Nature Reserve on the Forth & Clyde Canal in North Glasgow - Works will get underway on a new access point at Panmure Street, landscaping and the next phase of the drainage system for the Queens Cross Housing Association development at Hamiltonhill. Further preparatory works will be undertaken at the Garscube Bridge site ready for the new structure to be lifted into place ready for navigation to reopen on the Forth & Clyde Canal in July.
  • Stockingfield Bridge on the Forth & Clyde Canal in North Glasgow – Contractors will start back on site week commencing 22nd June 2020, carrying out site clearance and setting up the main site compound, so that enabling works can progress mid-July.

Take care and stay safe,

    

Scottish Canals 2020 Operating Hours

Dear customer,

As a valued user of our canals, we are writing to let you know of our operating hours across Scotland’s canals in the coming 2020 season. There have been some changes made across the network and we would ask that you use our guides to help plan any trips along our canals this season.
We are also delighted to share with you that an online transit booking system will be in place throughout the 2020 season. This will allow you to book short-term licenses in advance on our website. More details on this and how to book, will be shared very soon.

Caledonian Canal

We have adjusted our operating hours for 2020, ensuring the length of our operating season is maintained and that we continue to offer a seven day a week operation from April to October. The length of the operating day has been reduced at the majority of locations throughout the season and we will extend mobile working in the shoulder months of spring and autumn, rather than permanently staffing each lock and bridge, when there is less demand.

The operating hours for the 2020 season are as noted below:

Spring                   Mon 30th March – Sunday 3rd May                            7 days                   0900 – 1700*    

Summer               Monday 4th May – Sunday 6th September                7 days                   0900 – 1730**

Autumn                Monday 7th September – Friday 30th October         7 days                   0900 – 1700*

*Fort Augustus flight & Corpach Sea Lock 0830 – 1730  Clachnaharry Sea Lock 0830 – 1700

**Fort Augustus flight & both Sea Locks 0800 – 1800

You can also refer to our operating hours on the Plan Your Trip section of our website.

Crinan Canal

The Crinan Canal continues to operate on a seasonal basis which involves seven day a week operation in peak season, Monday to Saturday during spring and autumn, and Monday to Friday during winter months.

The 2020 operating hours are as follows:

Spring                   Monday 2nd March – Sunday 19th April                    Mon-Fri                08:30 – 16:30*

Summer               Monday 20th April – Sunday 4th October                 7 days                   08:30 – 17:30

Last lock in summer season will be 17:00

*Please refer to our website timetable for changes and extended operating dates over the Easter holiday period

Lowland Canals

Following a public consultation in 2019, we have reviewed our operating model on the Lowland Canals. As such we have made some changes on the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals, which include the introduction of Phase 1 of user operations, which sees boaters being trained to use bridges in Glasgow and Edinburgh city centres. Further information on the outcome of the consultation can be found here.

The operating hours on our Lowland Canals for the 2020 season, as well as details of our scheduled services operations, can be found on our website here.

On the days and times that are highlighted green on the timetable, a member of staff will be available to provide the range of customer services at that location.

 

We encourage customers to look to the customer hub on our website regularly for updates and information which might be useful, and also to look at our canal works pages, to allow you to plan appropriately for your trip.

 

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