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Bowling Basin, Forth & Clyde Canal

Accessible for local, portable and trailable craft

Silver Propeller Challenge



Visit Bowling Basin, where the Forth & Clyde Canal meets the Firth of Clyde, by boat or canoe and enjoy staggering views ‘doon the watter’.

This is one of two Silver Propeller locations in Scotland at the Eastern and Western ends of the Forth and Clyde Canal.  Bowling Basin, at the west end of the canal, has become a popular tourist destination following regeneration work, with the iconic swing railway bridge and abandoned tracks now transformed into a linear park, but we would like to encourage more waterborne visitors.

A photo of your boat in Bowling Basin would be good proof of your visit.

About the Forth & Clyde Canal and Bowling Basin

The Forth & Clyde 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.

Bowling Basin is the western entrance to the Forth & Clyde Canal from the River Clyde.  The Basin has a maritime feel to it, and the area has seen some recent investment to make it an interesting destination for a visit.  There are two sea locks, and the Basin, once an important transhipment point now host a community of pleasure craft.  Scottish Canals has a small office in the 18th century Customs House.  The nearby village of Bowling was once a ship-building centre, had a nearby coal mine and was a thriving port for west coast trade.

[The photo shows boats in Bowling Basin  –  by Jonathan Mosse]

Notes for visitors


Postcode: G60 5JR

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Boat Dimensions

The maximum size of boat that can pass through the Forth & Clyde Canal is

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

Canoeing, Boat Hire and Trip Boats

Canoeing is encouraged on Scottish Canals, and as locks are not used a licence is not required.  There is a well mapped Glasgow to Edinburgh Canoe Trail.

Scottish Canals recommends that all paddlers register with them in advance.

There are no trip boats of day boats for hire in the vicinity, although the Forth & Clyde Canal Society has three vessels for charter trips, based at Kirkintilloch.


Challenge Location

Bowling Basin

Forth & Clyde Canal

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