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Scottish Inland Waterways Association

DEFYING GRAVITY / THE FALKIRK WHEEL

 

Representatives of the two N. Ireland Branches were guests of the Scottish Inland Waterways Association during the first weekend of September 2002.

A highlight of the visit was a four hour boat trip on the 50 kilometre long Union Canal aboard boats provided by SIWA. This was a truly memorable experience sailing from Falkirk to Linlithgow, through the Falkirk Tunnel which is about a kilometre in length, across the Avon Aqueduct, and into the Linlithgow basin. This bustling harbour area is run by a dedicated band of volunteers and includes tea rooms, a museum and a number of narrow boats. The canal follows the contours of the land and provided much interesting industrial archaeological scenery and magnificent landscapes.

The wheel itself is an awesome experience. As the world’s first and only rotating boat lift it cannot but leave a memorable impression. On the Sunday morning British Waterways hosted a trip through the wheel and provided engineers to give a fascinating insight into the workings of this modern icon. The equally impressive visitors centre was the starting point for this boat journey that took us through the wheel, across the 20 metre high aqueduct and through a 145 metre tunnel under the historic Roman Antonine Wall.

The trip made the participants jealous that such facilities were provided at a total cost of £78 million for a mere 30 or so boats presently on the Union Canal system, especially when we have been lobbying for £90 million from two governments for the Ulster Canal which would benefit thousands of boats annually.

 

Brian Cassells

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                                                                                This page was last updatedSunday February 12, 2012