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Forth & Clyde Canal

The Forth & Clyde Canal runs from the River Clyde at Bowling to the River Forth at Grangemouth, and is joined by the Union Canal at Falkirk.

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

39 locks


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 provided 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 grant, the canal was reopened in 2001. At Port Downie, a flight of eleven locks had linked the canal to the Union Canal to Edinburgh but these were infilled. Replacing them is the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first rotating boat lift, opened by the Queen in 2002.

Port Dundas Branch

The basins at Port Dundas, the southernmost part of the Glasgow Arm of the Forth & Clyde Canal, were not restored along with the rest of the Millennium Link. However, a £5,700,000 project to reconnect Port Dundas with the rest of the canal was completed and formally reopened in September 2006. The project, planned by BW Scotland and Glasgow City Council, is likely to be a catalyst for substantial rejuvenation in the area and BW is involved with this continuing work.

Queen Elizabeth II Canal Link

Scotland’s newest canal section was built as part of the £43m Helix project. The 1km stretch which connects the Forth & Clyde Canal to Grangemouth features the famous Kelpies sculptures.

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

Scottish Canals

Waterway news

Funding of waterways managed by the Environment Agency

Along with its many environmental responsibilities, the Environment Agency manages the navigation of 630 miles of waterways – such as the River Thames and the River Medway in the south east – and many waterways in the Anglian Region.

Funding of Scottish Canals

150 miles of canal in Scotland are managed by Scottish Canals, the name for what remains of the British Waterways Board after their waterways in England and Wales were transferred to Canal & River Trust in 2012.

Local activities