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The Union Canal - A Canal Boat Holidays information article.

Union Canal

Marina(s) : Falkirk Wharf

Length: 32 miles
Total Locks: 0
Tunnels : 2
Aqueducts : 3
Lifts : 1 (The Falkirk Wheel)

Linked to: Forth & Clyde Canal

The Union Canal is one of two Lowland canals in Scotland and when it was opened it was known as the Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal. The canal linked Edinburgh with the Forth and Clyde Canal at Falkirk and provided a direct route between Scotland's two major cities.

The Union Canal is unique in Scotland as it is the only surviving contour canal. Completed in 1822 it was built to carry cheap coal to Edinburgh. Construction involved building three huge aqueducts, a 690 yard tunnel and a flight of 11 locks to take it down to and connect it with the Forth and Clyde Canal.

During the 1930 the locks fell into disrepair and were filled in and the land built upon. The Locks were replaced by the Falkirk Wheel which was opened in 2002 and now connects the Union Canal and the Forth and Clyde Canal.

Things of interest on route

Falkirk Wheel - The Falkirk Wheel has become known as the Eight Wonder of the Waterways and is a significant landmark raising above the Carron Valley. Rising 115 feet into the air this unique engineering feat carries canal boats to and from the Union and Forth and Clyde Canal.

Callendar House - Callendar House dates from the 14th century and is situated in the nationally important historic designed landscape of Callendar Park, which also contains a section of the Antonine Wall World Heritage Site.

Beecraigs Country Park – Situated in 913 acres high in the Bathgate Hills Beecraigs Country Park caters for a wide range of leisure and recreational activities. Take a walk with a guide and see if you can spot the Red deer or the highland cattle. The Restaurant at Beecraigs can serve you a morning coffee, a quick lunchtime snack or a full evening meal.

Linlithgow Palace – This magnificent ruin is situated on the top of a mound of high ground between the town of Linlithgow and Linlithgow Loch. Once a favoured residence of the Stewart Kings and Queens it was also where James V and Mary Queen of Scots were both born.

Linlithgow Loch – Is a lake situated in Linlithgow just to the west of Edinburgh is used for water sports by West Lothian Council's outdoor education centre. The loch is three quarters of a mile long and covers half a square kilometre. Linlithgow Loch is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, SSSI due to its wildfowl population.

The Avon Aqueduct - 810 feet long and 86 feet high it is the longest and tallest aqueduct in Scotland, and the second longest in Britain after the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

The Almond Aqueduct – Situated just west of Ratho it is 420 feet long and carries the Union Canal 76 feet above the River Almond.

Places to visit

Falkirk – There is much more to Falkirk than just the wheel, its claim to fame is it was the site of two battles the first being fought on 22nd July 1298 when William Wallace lost his advantage over the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The second was the Battle of Falkirk which took place 450 year later. It was here the Bonnie Prince Charles and the Jacobites defeated Government forces. The town today has a pleasant pedestrianised High Street which offers the visitors a host of shopping opportunities.

Broxburn – Offers visitors a number of small shops , a Post Office and number of Pubs serving food. Whilst in Broxburn visit the Almondell and Calderwood Country Parks. These 220 acre parks offers visitors beautiful woodland and riverside walks with picnic areas. The Parks are a wildlife haven for Roe deer, fox, heron, otter and woodpecker. There are also many Oak and hazel trees providing food and shelter for the woodmouse and squirrel.

Ratho – Is situated on the site of stone age circles, carved into the rock where there is a witches stone which holds many legends. The Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, one of the biggest in the world, is in Ratho. As well as a huge climbing area the centre boasts an aerial assault course, a gym and spa facilities. Competitive and amateur climbers are attracted from around the world and the centre provides training up to World Cup competition standard.

Edinburgh – Offer a range of attractions to suit all ages from the brilliant Dynamic Earth to The Whisky Heritage Centre. Stroll down The Royal Mile and you will find the Palace of Holyroodhouse the Queen's official residence in Scotland. With the spectacular backdrop of Arthur's Seat the palace dates back as far as the 13th century. Built into rugged rock overlooking Princes Street Gardens a visit to Edinburgh Castle is a must. the castle is Home to the Crown Jewels and Stone of Destiny.

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