About the Union Canal
The Edinburgh & Glasgow Union Canal, to give it its full name, runs from the Forth & Clyde Canal at Falkirk to a terminus in Edinburgh. It opened in 1822 to improve the carriage of coal and other minerals into Edinburgh. The canal was 32 miles (51.2km) long with 11 locks climbing up the hill at Falkirk to the long contour summit level with several notable aqueducts. Traffic on the canal started to seriously decline after the closure in 1921 of the main basins in Edinburgh and the canal officially closed to traffic in 1933.
The Forth & Clyde and Union canals were restored to navigation in 2001 following National Lottery funding as a Millennium project. The original locks at Falkirk had been built over and a landmark boat lift was a new part of the restoration. The Falkirk Wheel, now one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions, is the only rotating boat lift in the world. A single lock and the wheel raise boats up to a tunnel under the Roman Antoine Wall with a double staircase lock onto the summit level. The Union Canal now has 3 locks, the Falkirk wheel and is a mile shorter since the last portion in Edinburgh has been lost.
[Photo – The terminus of the Union Canal in Edinburgh – by Jonathan Mosse]