account arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right closecontact-us emailFacebookheart instagramjoin linkedin phonepinterestplaysearch twitteryoutube

Forth & Clyde Canal

The Forth & Clyde Canal runs from the River Clyde at Bowling to the River Carron, about one mile upstream from its confluence with the River Forth at Grangemouth.  The Canal is joined by the Union Canal at Falkirk, and has an arm from Stockingfield Junction into Glasgow (Spiers Wharf), near where it once joined the Monkland Canal.

Things to do nearby

Boats in Bowling Basin, Forth & Clyde Canal

Facts & Stats

35 miles

(56.3 km)

The length of the Forth & Clyde Canal that is navigable, including the new Queen Elizabeth II Canal linking into the River Carron.

40 locks

Including the new Sea Lock on the Queen Elizabeth II Canal.


Year opened

The Canal was opened to link the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth and provided a safe route for coasters during the war with France.

From Bowling to Grangemouth

The Canal was opened in 1790 to link the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth, and to provide a safe route for coasters during the war with France.  Pleasure steamers used the canal from 1893 until the outbreak of World War II.  The canal was closed in 1963 to facilitate road construction.  With funding from a huge Millennium Lottery Fund grant, the Canal was reopened in 2001, all except for the easternmost length through Grangemouth, which was bypassed with a short link into the River Carron just west of the M9 motorway crossing.  At Port Downie, a flight of eleven locks had linked the Canal to the Union Canal to Edinburgh but these were infilled in the 1930s. Replacing them is the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first rotating boat lift, opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002.

Port Dundas Branch

Although the Glasgow Arm to Spiers Wharf was re-opened as part of the Millennium Link project, the basins at Port Dundas were not.  A £5,700,000 project, planned by BW Scotland and Glasgow City Council, to reconnect Port Dundas with the rest of the canal was completed and formally reopened in September 2006 by former local MP and Speaker in the House of Commons, George Martin.  However, the new lock (not included in the 40 mentioned above), has not been available for public use since then, and the potential to revitalise the area originally envisaged has yet to be realised.

Queen Elizabeth II Canal Link

Scotland’s newest canal section was built as part of the £43m Helix project.  Along with the famous Kelpies sculptures, a 0.65 mile (1 km) length of new canal with a new Sea Lock was built to bypass the Millennium Link’s new connection into the River Carron, which had required boaters to navigate under the M9 motorway, the A905 Kerse Bridge and a pipe bridge.  Both connections to the River Carron are now available for use.

Waterway notes

Maximum boat sizes

  • Length: 68′ 6″ (20.9 metres)
  • Beam: 19′ 8″ (6.0 metres)
  • Height: 9′ 10″ (3.0 metres)
  • Draught: 6′ (1.8 metres)

Navigation authority

Waterway underfunding

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

Sustainable Boating

We want boating on canals and rivers to be more sustainable and – even though the current overall contribution to UK carbon emissions is very small – we want to help reduce emissions on the waterways.

Waterways Heritage at Risk

Britain’s canals and rivers are a unique, living heritage. But that heritage is at risk – from urban development, lack of protection, loss of skills and knowledge and climate change.

You can help Save Waterways Heritage.

Waterway restoration

Restoring the UK’s blue infrastructure – our inherited network of navigable canals and rivers – is good for people and places.

Local activities