Ronnie Rusack Flotillaa of Lights


Millennium Link Challenge

An Adventure Onboard WhyKnot

An entertaining saga of the journey complete the Challenge by Kenneth Mcleod and Bruce Henderson with their crew on board Narrowboat Whyknot

In mid-July four humans and two dogs set off from Leamington Wharf (Edinburgh) to
take WhyKnot, seventeen tons of steel and stuff to Grangemouth. There the boat
would have the underside cleaned up and blackened.

Monday 19 July 2021
The first part of this year’s big adventure was to set off heading to Ratho. It may not
seem far for those who live on the west of Edinburgh, but mooring at the Bridge Inn
defines the end of day one. Canal boats are not speedy creatures, so restricted to
travelling at 4mph means most of the towpath users overtake us.

Because of COVID and lockdowns there was very little movement in 2020, just what
weeds love. Scottish Canals have done their best but there’s still a lot of green stuff in
the water. Weed can wrap around the propeller or hang like scarf around the bow.
Causing the boat to slow even more. This day wasn’t actually bad but when you see a
canal boat struggling this could be the cause. A table had been booked at the Bridge
Inn and we ate a delicious dinner, outside, on a glorious evening.

Tuesday 20 July 2021
Ratho to Linlithgow made up day two. I appear to have little of note photographed. I
can however recommend the Montepulciano D’Abruzzo a wonderful red supplied at
BarLeo on the High Street. Their Affogato finished off the meal perfectly. Another
recommendation came from a retired oil rig worker from Aberdeen, I spoke to at the
moorings. You supply your own accent. “These hire boats are great, so relaxing. This
place is nice. We ate at the Post Office. Great, three courses on the OAP menu. You
get your soup, main and pudding for only £7.50.”

Wednesday 21 July 2021
On day three, leaving Linlithgow there are two tunnels to navigate. The Falkirk
Tunnel, Scotland’s longest, was built by navigators. Mainly Irish labourers who
worked to build the canals, hence ‘navies’. The most famous/infamous, Yes, you at
the back there, the boy with his head on the desk, being? Burke & Hare. If you want
to know more, look it up yourselves. You’re already on the internet! But suffice it to
say, they were NOT grave robbers! The were 18th century entrepreneurs. Cutting out
the middle man for greater profit.
The tunnel itself is 630mtrs long and it leaks. Sometimes quite considerably, hence no
photos inside it at this point. It can be accessed on foot from quite near Falkirk High
Station, where there is a car park. The lady on the towpath near the entrance is Gill,
along with Hector. They often beat Whyknot by briskly walking or jogging.

Not too far along are the only two, conjoined, locks on the Union Canal to help drop
down to the level of the top of the Falkirk Wheel. A swift turn to the right, or
starboard as those who do call it, brings the tunnel, under Rough Castle Hill, site of a
Roman Fort on the Antonine Wall. The canal flows to the top of the wheel. Leading
up to it means passing under the Edinburgh – Glasgow, Queen Street railway line.
Entering the tunnel is a multi-sensory experience, like a psychedelic ‘trip’. Then on
reaching the end of the aqueduct which allows access to the top of the wheel there is
the added strange experience of having an open overview of the Forth valley many
metres in the air, whilst still sitting on the narrow boat which has been home for the
past three days.

The wheel turns, using less power than six electric kettles, and we find ourselves in
the mooring basin. A good place to stop for the night.

Thursday 22 July 2021
On dropping down to the Forth and Clyde Canal from the Falkirk Wheel Basin there
is a manually operated footbridge which is physically pushed to the side allowing the
passage of boats. The F&C Canal is more than twice as deep as the Union so gives a
slightly faster and smoother journey. We then had to moor half a mile further on at the
conveniently sited Union Inn, to await the arrival of the team of lock keepers who
would aid us on our journey. What better way to pass the waiting time than sitting
outside the Inn, in the sunshine, with a freshly poured pint!
At Lock 16, the beginning of our descent to The Kelpies, when I was a child, there
was a rising bascule bridge which I was supposed to cross on my way to Bantaskin
PS. But being a foolish child sometimes I would cross at Lock 14. The footway long
having disintegrated I would stupidly walk across the beam. The old wooden bridge is
long gone but I suppose it is commemorated in the impression shown on the current
one. The old B&W shows, Lock 16 and the bridge, but not very clearly. And those
good at arithmetic will have worked out Lock 14 is in the distance.

The volunteer lock keepers – one of the joys of Scottish canals. Boaters, punters, are
not allowed to operate the locks. Unlike the users of waterways held under the
guardianship of The Canal & River Trust in England, branded Glandŵr Cymru in
Wales. We were joined by a team of four. I shan’t describe here how locks work but it
should be sufficient to say they allow the raising and lowering of boats through use of
the correct sequence of Gates and Paddles/Sluices. The wrong sequence can prove
problematic! (I believe the first canal lock was invented, where else, but China around
a thousand years ago.) The teams of lock keepers usually cycle between locks,
depending on distance. One in Falkirk has a really easily recognisable form of
transport, not often seen these days, or ever to be honest.

Round about locks 9 & 10 there was someone taking photographs. One of the lock
keepers said, “Don’t worry about him, he’s just from a local paper.” I’ve already
published on F’book his contribution to ‘The Scotsman’. At around the same area is
the former Rosebank Distillery. The last time we were here we ate in the former
Maltings building now a Beefeater. Across the canal and road, no longer “Mr Allans
bridge” as my sister reminded me we used to call it, the old distillery buildings are
being renovated. Soon to reopen and go back into production of one of the finest
Lowland Malts -I read. I think I was 11 when we moved to Edinburgh.

I think it was almost four hours it took to reach the Helix Park and the Kelpies.
Moored up, ate and slept onboard and since there was a delay at the boatyard returned
to Edinburgh, next day, by road. In less than an hour!

Tuesday 27 July 2021
Returning four days later, we set off through the sea lock onto the River Carron to
Grangemouth. to be craned out for all the unseen cosmetic work required. This is time
sensitive because at low tide it’s just mudflats. Actually a little lucky, since
thunderstorms were forecast. Large metal hulls on cranes and electrical storms are not
a good thing. So we walked back along the tow path to the Kelpies, got into the car,
and the heavens opened! Good timing.

There may now be another slight hiatus in this saga depending on internet access on
The Black Isle.
But in the meantime may I recommend anyone wishing adventure and boats watch
“Annika” with the wonderful Nicola Walker, on the Alibi channel. I first stumbled
upon Nick Walker’s writings on BBC Sounds. Very, very funny for a police
procedural. And the way she ‘breaks the fourth wall’ is a joy to watch. (PS, I’ve just
checked, Nicola and Nick are not the same person.)

Wednesday 11 August 2021
Returned to Steve Kelvin’s boatyard at Grangemouth where work had finally been
completed, after some delays. Returned to Helix Park and the Kelpies via the Queen
Elizabeth Canal. This is a one kilometer ‘cut’ which was opened in 2017 to allow
easier access to the Forth and Clyde canal from the River Carron.

Thursday 12 August
After a night in the Kelpies basin and an early start to pass through the 16 locks then
past the Falkirk Wheel and onwards to Auchinstarry. This is a 50 berth marina, near
Kilsyth, which has Bike, Canoe and Kayak hire available. It also has a very nice
restaurant and pub called, unsurprisingly, The Boat House.
Also around here there is a coming together of three different ‘routes’ from three very
different centuries.
• Antonine’s Wall – running from Old Kilpatrick in the west to Carriden, near
Bo’ness in the east. Construction began in AD 142 and took about 12 years to
complete. As the Romans tried to move the boundary of their empire further
north. However the mound and ditch construction was abandoned only 8 years
after completion and they retreated to the better known and more substantial
Hadrian’s Wall
• Forth and Clyde Canal –Bowling to Grangemouth. 18th Century means of
allowing seagoing vessels to pass from West to East without having to
navigate the difficult waters of the Pentland Firth in the far north of Scotland.
• The John Muir Way – 21st Century. Helensburgh to Dunbar (birthplace of
John Muir – “Father of America’s national parks.”)

Friday 13 August 2021
From Auchinstarry it’s a virtually uninterupted run into Glasgow with just the lift
bridge at Twechar to negotiate.

Passing through Kirkintilloch, a ‘dry’ town from 1923 until 1967 when the sale of
alchohol was banned on public premises we continued on to the to the Maryhill
junction. At Stockingfield there is a very sharp left turn (to Port) which accesses a
spur almost into the city centre. Along this largely thickly tree lined stretch there is
another basin named Firhill and the canal sweeps around the stadium of the same
name, home of the mighty Partick Thistle.
Originally this ended at Port Dundas but that area of land is now under the M8
motorway. However the reconstruction work and new basins has opened up
opportunities for a variety of watersports facilities including white water kayaking,
paddleboarding and open water swimming. Before reaching that far, (it’s really nearly
impossible reach as the drop is so great the locks are actually blocked off to normal
traffic) we moored at Applecross Street Basin which is actually the HQ of Scottish
Canals. The bollards which should supply power and water are there, but don’t work
for visitors!

No sooner had we arrived than we were visited by the Police, who started to question
us about an incident which had happened three days previously. We had to explain
that we had only arrived ten minutes earlier. All was not lost, he recommended the
Botany Bar on Maryhill Rd, just past the fire Station. It was very good.
There is a great deal of regeneration, linked to the canal here including the Claypits. A
large area of urban nature reserve, wheelchair accessable, with views over the city.
We were lucky enough to be allowed through the rising bascule bridge and the more
modern footbridge into Speirs Wharf, which I mentioned before. It just goes to show
the benefits of being friendly and pleasant to people. Also on the canal here is the HQ
of The National Theatre of Scotland.

Sunday 15 August 2021
We set to return along the verdant, overgrown section of the canal through an area of
regeneration in North Glasgow. The money which has been poured into (see what I
did there?) the canal since it started as a Millennium Project was not intended just for
boaters. (Not the hats.) Firstly the wild life: ducks (various varieties), moorhens,
coots, swans (saw one family of two adults and nine cygnets!) and of course Grey
Heron. As well as the range of other smaller birds in the trees and hedges along the
canal. Rattus rattus live all along the canals, saw none this trip but did catch a quick
glimpse of a pair of otters.
On the water as well as narrowboats there are Canoeists, Kayakers and
Paddleboarders also people fishing. If anyone reading this ever finds themselves out
on the canal in a powered vessel; SLOW DOWN when close to any of the previous
categories! The tow path is for walkers, runners and cyclists. If only each group
would appreciate that the others have an equal right to use the path. Those on electric
scooters however deserve to end up in the water.
We rejoin the Forth and Clyde canal proper at Stockingfield Junction (of which more
later). All along the canal there are finger post signs giving direction and distance to
places of interest. Around here there is one which states it is “9½mls to Bowling”.
The next four signs, over about 2½mls, read “9mls to Bowling”. This, as already
stated, was on a Sunday morning. No strong drink had been taken. Not even
communion wine.
So the phrase “Nine miles to Bowling” became a catch phrase for the rest of trip.
The next ‘obstacle’ to overcome is the staircase of five locks at Maryhill. Regrettably
because of the speed of passing through the locks I have no photographs. (Although
having just ‘researched’ it, I think I am permitted to use an image taken from Google
maps.) Just after the final lock the canal crosses the Kelvin Aquaduct, which
unsurprisingly crosses the River Kelvin, a tributary of which we crossed at
Kirkintilloch where it is called Luggie Water.
Not much further on and having passed through Locks 26 and 27 and under the bridge
carrying Bearsden Road we moored at the aptly named Lock 27 moorings then
lunched at the Canal side, family friendly, pub with food at 1100 Crow Road, called
unimaginatively Lock 27.
It was here future travel plans were discussed. We had stayed an extra night at
Applecross Street so we’d get this far. But arriving here we were told by the nice man
from Scottish Canals, who we’ll call Alistair, because that’s his name, that there was
no way we could travel any further because of the weed encroachment. Although
there was a weed cutter ahead of us it was taking much longer than anticipated and
we’d have to wait at Lock 27 another three days.

It was decided to see if we could take a train to Bowling. There has been, and may
still be, industrial action on Scotrail at weekends. No ticket office, no staff , no
timetable boards giving false hope of when the next train may arrive. A train, to
Helensburgh or Dumbarton (I think) did pull in quite soon but would it stop at
Bowling? It left and we were left wondering when a staff member appeared on the
other side of the track. She crossed over and tried to help but had no idea if we would
get back if we got the next train from here, Anniesland, or walked down to Jordanhill
Station and were lucky to find a train running from there! Discretion being the better
part of valour Shelagh and Gill went to Morrisons and Ken and I walked the dogs
back to the boat.

Monday 16 August
Set off next morning for the return journey up the Maryhill flight with the ever helpful
canal staff and at the top took a sharp left turn at Stockingfield,, site of the new £12m
bridge to bring together three communities as part of the previously mentioned
regeneration of North Glasgow.

Moored at The Stables outside Kirkintilloch. Table booked for that evening.
Everything perfect. As it name suggests it is a former stables where the horses which
worked on the canal were fed, watered and rested. So were we.

Tuesday 17 August 2021
Next morning on past Kirkintilloch for an appointment at Tweecher lift bridge where
we stopped to explore the site of Barr Fort, the highest Fort on the Antonine Wall. We
continued on to Auchenstarry for an overnight stop and exploration of. Croy Hill and
a nice ice cream at the craft shop.

Wednesday 18 August 2021
Departed Auchinstarry for the pleasant navigation on Dullater moor, especially with
the wind behind us. Negotiated locks 20 to 17 back with the ever helpful volunteers
and on clearing Bonnybridge lift bridge we had a quick stop for a pump out and fuel.
Another night was spent in the Falkirk Wheel Basin with a visit to the Roman Fort at

Thursday 19 August 2021
An earlyish start up on the first wheel and onward to Linlithgow, pausing at Tesco
Polmont. How convenient the canal builders put in a mooring so close to a
supermarket, and prison. The excellent Bar Leo for the evening.

Friday 20 August 2021
Departed this morning continuing our passage eastwards passing the new marina
being constructed at Winchburgh. Arrived early afternoon at Ratho and had a
celebratory meal at The Bridge Inn Ratho to mark our final night of this adventure.
The Bridge Inn was run for many years by Ronnie Rusack, who successfully
campaigned to have the canals re-opened.

Saturday 21 August
Returned to WhyKnot’s home mooring at Leamington Wharf. After 16 days and
nights on board (with an eighteen day break in the middle while Pierre and his team
worked on the hull). This was indeed a memorable coast to coast (almost) and city to
city adventure. So this brings an end to this summers saga ….. or does it?

Having been unable to complete the journey “from sea to shining sea” onboard
WhyKnot because of the weeds, Shelagh and I set off to visit Bowling by car.
Transport has improved somewhat in the 230 years since the Forth and Clyde Canal
first opened. Leaving our home in south Edinburgh we arrived there 1hr10mins later!

An extract from Bruce Hendersons facebook page



November and the boats were getting their makeovers. Flowers, lights, musical instruments and coloured items were becoming a reality. The plan for Saturday evening was for the boaters to assemble at Slateford Aqueduct, about 2½ miles from the end of the canal, have a safety talk and then proceed slowly with all their decorations lit up and music playing from Harrison Park to Lochrin Basin at the end of the Union Canal near Edinburgh city centre. The plan was to arrive there at approximately 7 pm. During the last expedition, the elements were not kind, with wind and rain dampening the fun. This year there was almost a full moon, the skies were clear, visibility was perfect and the weather was dry.

Individual boaters had made their way along the canal from their home moorings as far afield as Falkirk. Ascending the Falkirk Wheel, which is the connecting link between the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal is an amazing experience. Once through the locks at the top of the Wheel the canal meanders at the same level all the way to Edinburgh through two tunnels, under many bridges and over aqueducts above deep valleys. The bridges and aqueducts range from 200year old stone arched structures to modern concrete or steel bridges which were built when the canal was reopened twenty years ago as part of the Millennium Link project.

The banks of the canal were decorated with the dying colours of autumn, past sleepy villages, waterside pubs, wide open fields and ancient beech groves. The boats glided gracefully through the water leaving gentle waves skirting behind them. On the banks were ivy entwined trees, large ferns, white willow herb seeds and a watery winter sun. In the fields was straw stubble, one field was being ploughed and beside the rich, deep, brown soil flocks of seagulls were looking for food. The tractor slides its blades into the soil as the boats cut their way through the water. The only bright colours were the splashes of yellow gorse and the red berries of the hawthorn and the holly. There were splashes as ducks, moorhens, swans, herons and even the occasional hawk was disturbed by the passing boats. Fallen leaves floating on the surface water were like old copper pennies, many birds scurried to the sides to take refuge in the reed beds as boats passed by. The weeds in the canal had been cleared recently by the bank staff of Scottish Canals and volunteers which made the journey easier. However, it was noted by several boaters that dredging was still needed as some boats were scraping along the bottom.

The main event had been preceded by a gathering on the Friday night at the Almond Aqueduct for a BBQ, bonfire and fireworks. The sky darkened as the stars and night sky glowed with the flames of the fire. Music, singing and the joy of community added to the warmth of the evening.

The Flotilla of Light has been an event organised by the Lowland Canal Association for the past 4 years and this year it was renamed to commemorate the work undertaken by Ronnie Rusack in maintaining a living and working canal system for all to enjoy.

This year 12 boats participated. All the lowland canal marinas had been leafleted and copies were also distributed to the Schools around the canal. On the back of the leaflet were instructions on how to make a lantern. The children were asked to participate in the event by making lanterns to hold along the last stretch of the canal to welcome the boaters. The boaters in return would throw wrapped sweets to the children on the bank. It was interesting to note that when the boats arrived, children were able to shout that this boat has Quality Street sweets and the next one has Celebrations.

The boats were all lit up with the sparkling lights reflected in the water. This was mirrored by the twinkling stars in the sky as the evening darkened and more stars appeared. The gentle silver of moonlight contrasted with the bright lights of the city buildings as the boats approached Leamington Bridge. The myriad of lights on the water gave it an almost magical appearance. One pirate boat gave the illusion of smoke, one was dressed like a dragonfly and others had families aboard enjoying the event. The sounds of music drifted across the water and the voices of children on the bank led to a warm atmosphere of celebration.

At the end of the journey when the boats were tied up, they were scrutinised by a very discerning panel of judges made up of children. This year’s winner was Christine McKay who had worn a blue wig and a very fetching set of dragonfly wings. This year for the first time the winner was presented with a quaich (or friendship cup), inscribed in memory of Mary Shannon who had sadly passed away this year. She had loved the flotilla and especially the colours, the lights and the music.

The main person organising the event was Pierre Potel, known in the past for his fetching outfit as a mermaid. Pierre is a jack of all trades with a wealth of understanding about boat maintenance and the canals. He is also the bonfire and firework expert having done that task for the last 4 years.

In addition, this year the Lowland Canal Association introduced a photographic competition which has still to be judged. So far, the photos received have reflected the beauty and magic of the night. It was a wonderful event and our thanks and gratitude go to everyone who not only participated but also helped to make it the successful event it was. The memories will last a lifetime.

See you all again next year!!!


The Lowland Canals are now fully reopen to navigation after a long period of closure or disruption resulting from defective bridges, excessive weed growth, an embankment breach, restrictions caused by COVID and the blockage to the feeder pipe. In order to celebrate the reopening of both canals and to encourage boaters to explore the far reaches of the network the Lowland Canals Association have agreed to organise a challenge with prizes for successful participants.

If this proposal generates sufficient interest amongst the boating community, then we would propose to make it an annual event with additional challenges and prizes.

The Millennium Link Award

City to City and Sea to Sea

An award for every boat which visits all four points of the Millennium Link i.e, Lochrin, Carron sea lock, Bowling and Port Dundas, not necessarily in any specific order.

This would certainly encourage boats to visit the extremities of the network. If no boats manage to visit all four destinations, then the winner will be the one which gets closest to completing the challenge. Boats have to navigate the length of both the Union and the Forth and Clyde Canal, trailer boating will not qualify.

The prize for the first to achieve the challenge, generously donated by Scottish Canals, will be a free navigation licence for the 2022 season. All other successful contestants will receive vouchers for meals at convenient restaurants.


Verification will be by submission of a timed and dated photo of the boat showing identifiable canal side features at the destination of each voyage, along with a simple log sheet for each qualifying trip.


The closing date for the Award will be 30th November 2021 but applications can be submitted as soon as the challenge has been completed. Submissions, with all substantiating documentation, should be sent to and headed “Are You Up For a Challenge”. Queries about the challenge should also be sent to the same address.

The submissions will be judged by the LCA Committee whose decision will be final.

The winners will be notified by E-Mail or post and the results published on both the LCA and the SC websites in early December.


MUSIC; BBQ and BUFFET (bring your own contributions to the table) Plenty of short-term mooring available in basin (rafted if necessary). Come early if you want but priority for parking applies to Bistro Customers before 5pm. ALL WELCOME 

Flotilla of Lights 2020 – update

It is with great sadness that the LCA has decided to postpone the 2020 edition of the Canal Warming and the Flotilla of Lights.

It is impossible for us to predict the evolution of the actual Pandemic and the whole weekend is a social event that would put many people at risk of being in close proximity of each other.

The other factors that have been influencing our decision are as follow;

-Maintenance program of the Falkirk Wheel being undertaken during at the time of the Flotilla which would have limited greatly the presence of boats from the Forth & Clyde to the event (we are hopeful that SC will finally consider it in their next year maintenance program scheduling),

-Recent breach on the Union Canal which ultimately prevents any boats from the F&C to take part in the event, hence having a reduced number of boats for the event,

-Dramatic Weed and silt situation on the Union Canal which could create a very chaotic flotilla. We are very aware that those issues could create mechanical damage to the boats and we wouldn’t want to place any boats at risk of getting engines damage (as it already started to happen last year for a couple of boats…).

-Despite a few keen and enthusiastic boaters, very few boats had registered interest in taking part in this year’s event and this is most likely because of the above-mentioned issues…

So, for all those reasons, we have decided to postpone this years’ event and we are at the moment considering to hold this event in spring of 2021.

We are very sorry if this comes as a disappointment but we would rather do a good event instead of doing a makeshift of one.

We can only hope that you will understand our decision and that you will keep your energy for the spring event!

Take care and stay safe…

The LCA team

Flotilla of Lights 2020

As you may know,  a recent email invited you and the rest of the boating Community, family and friends to gather for the traditional bonfire and the flotilla of lights at the end of November but the response to this invitation has been very mild so far.

That been said, some usual enthusiasts responded right away to the invitation and said they would join the fun, with or without boat and it is awesome.

We are very aware of the ever changing rules about social distancing and the difficulty that restrictions could bring to such social event so we are taking the approach of planning for the best and expecting the worst…

We can only hope that those distancing rules will be eased in 3 months time but this isn’t in our control and we will play it by ear when we come closer to the date. 

Worst case scenario we will postpone the event and wait for an easing of the social distancing rules.

I managed to convince my son to write a few lines to describe the Flotilla and possibliy convince a few more to join the event so here are his words;


The flotilla of lights is an immersive experience where you may watch a cavalry of beautiful boats pass you in style, because each boat is fitted with colourful lights, ribbons and more which look spectacular at night.

I was very lucky to be on the lead boat of the flotilla, and I could see everything that was going on as we entered Edinburgh. There were people clapping to the guitarist that was playing live on top of the lead boat “wow” and there were people on the path who had brought a lantern with them which meant we would throw them free sweeties!


There you go then.

If that doesn’t sell the flotilla to you, then I don’t know what would!?Emoji

Boat owners (who have their boats already on the Union Canal), it would be great to make this flotilla a with a decent number of boats so please let us know if you are planning on joining the weekend.

Please note that there will be a gathering in Edinburgh after the Flotilla so that we can all be together to close off the event on saturday evening.

Hoping to hear from a few more…


Flotilla round up

I have the pleasure to say that last weekend was a great success…!!

Despite several last minute cancellations, the turnout of boats was really good (16 boats at the Canal warming on Friday and 15 boats who sailed to Edinburgh on saturday…).

Friday evening was awesome as we had some fine weather. The evening went very well.

A lot of live music was being played (accordion, drums…) and it was really sweet.

As usual, the bonfire was big, the Fireworks were in large volume and the display was worth the view (I was told…).

The mood was so good that many didn’t see the time go and only slept for a few hours!

-Just a wee reminder that the LCA funded the charcoal for the BBQ as well as the Fireworks-

Saturday morning, a few “not very fresh” faces took on to clean up the Bonfire site and the result was impressive!

We delivered an imaculate site after an intense hour of cleaning.

Well done to all involved!

As the Flotilla was heading towards Edinburgh, the rain started to fall and a welcome lunchbreak took place at Bridge 10 (just before the City Bypass).

We then continued our way towards Edinburgh and despite going through some horrendeous weather and the fact that many boats suffered from overheating because of going through a lot silt, “most” boats survived the flotilla and the arrival in Edinburgh was wonderful…

As we arrived (right on time) at Harrison Park, the rain finally eased and the boats provided a beautiful display to the crowds.

I was really suprised to see so many people by the Canal considering the bad weather and it was a joy to see the kids waving their lanterns.

There were hundreds of people waiting for us and it was heartwarming to see that.

The families and the kids were very excited…(expecially the kids who had a big grin, knowing the sweets were coming!) As well, many windows were decorated with candles and it was really nice to see.

I already received many thanks for organising this (and it is much

appreciated) but a Bonfire and a Flotilla with 1 folk and 1 boat wouldn’t work…

THANK YOU SO MUCH to every boat, skipper, crew, and friends who have rallied to this event and spent some of their time, energy and made the effort to be there…you are the ones who made it what it was!  WELL DONE YOU!!!

I would love to thank the following people; -All of you who came along (one way or another) to support the event, -The boaters who had to travel a long distance and pass several locks and the Falkirk Wheel to join the party (Ropatiro is holding the distance record as he came from Cadder before Glasgow…!) -Yvan, Ken, Tony for coming setting up the Gazebos on Thursday afternoon in Edinburgh .

-Eric, Marie-eve, Ken for helping setting the bonfire site, -Morag, Yvan, Christine, Marie-eve,, Ken, Paul, Aidan, Malo for cleaning the Bonfire, -Andy and Charlie for their assistance in setting the lights at Harrison Park, lending the 2 Gazebos for Friday evening and helping assemble them!

-Carol Bell (SC) and the wonderful Volunteers who worked hard to build the Bonfire on Friday morning…

-My sister (Marie-eve) who came from France just for the weekend and who played tirelessly of her accordion during the weekend!

-The Volunteers of Re-Union who prepared soups for Friday and Saturday!

-Richard Millar (SC) who contributed to the boats passage throught the wheel before and after the event and who pushed in the background to make the Flotilla happen, -Billy (SC) who arranged for getting the Leamington Lift bridge opened for us on Saturday evening, -Young David (SC) who came along to help us on a Saturday evening, -James (Re-Union) for having manned the Lift bridge on Sunday to let the boats trapped in the Basin to escape.

-…really sorry if I have omitted anybody!

Community Moorings Scotland

It’s just a few days until Community Mooring Scotland’s next gathering at Narrowboat Farm, Linlithgow, EH49 6QY. This year we’ve added some kid-friendly elements in the morning in case you want to come with wee ones and don’t want them to get bored. We’ve got three exciting boat skills workshops lined up as well as other fun stuff which will be going on.

The event is obviously open to all boaters and enthusiasts on the canals, but also friends of boaters and prospective canal enthusiasts too. So feel free to spread the word, it really is the more the merrier.

We have lots of covered space so don’t worry if the weather is poor, the event will go on and there will be lots of cosy spaces to hang out with your fellow boaters. Following the timetabled elements, the BBQ will be running and we’ll set off the bonfire at dusk. You are welcome to bring a camper or tent if you wish to stay over and enjoy the evening frivolities. There are moorings, parking, power, water, compost toilet and a shower available. There’s currently space for another 5 boats on the bank so obviously if you feel like coming by boat please do!!!

The timetable for the day: Saturday 21st September 2019

10am – Welcome and intro to the day

10am – 12pm alternative workshop for kids: make your own mini farm to take home with Iain, facepainting and storytelling with Seppi

10:15 – workshop 1: Splicing ropes and knots with Chrisy (bring your own three strand mooring or fender line)

11am – workshop 2: The basics of onboard power systems with Pierre

12pm – Community Moorings Scotland update (BBQ sparks up)

12:30 – 2pm: BBQ (we’ll supply the BBQ and charcoals, please bring your own food/drink) and open forum for boaters to raise issues/ask questions

2pm – workshop 3: Community Moorings plans for building landing stages with Jonathan

3pm onwards – BBQ, bonfire, hot tub, music, good times


Not long to go now. Both bridges are now operational, F&C East (Lock6) should be open from Mon.6th. and I am assured F&C West will open very soon.

Remember to book all boat movements outside main flotilla with SC in the normal manner.Boat movement should be able to take food bookings over the phone.

SC intend to contact all boats to confirm movement plans by Fri. 10th. but this will be expedited by prior booking.

IMPORTANT: May I remind all Skippers that boats must be equipped with LIFE-JACKETS for all working crew (helm,bowman), deployment optional.

Remember to decorate your boat (SC will have extra bunting available at TFW) and have music, preferably live, on board.

PROGRAMME: SC are preparing a final version of the full programme of events which we will post on the LCA website as soon as it is available.

FOOD: SC will be contacting all boats to confirm bookings. Enquiries from others requiring food tickets should be addressed to Josie Saunders at SC. <>.

SOCIAL: LCA members and other boaters unable to bring their own vessels will still be able to join in this event. Many boats will be prepared to take additional passengers on the flotilla sections, including possibly some space on the Courtesy Vessels; although you will need to make your own arrangements for connecting transport and accommodation.

With this in mind, can boaters let me know how much space they may have available and when so we can try to match like with like.

FRIDAY 24th.   There will be a mini flotilla to Bonnybridge and back from TFW on Friday morning to celebrate official re-opening of the bridge. Boats already at TFW and able to turn west of Bonnybridge wishing to participate should contact Robin and/or Tommy Thomson at SC to register their interest. CANOES & KAYAKS interested in this, or any other part of flotilla should contact Robin<> to let us know your intentions.

There is considerable pressure on space on the Wheel on Friday afternoon. Anyone who can arrive above wheel early on Friday or before the event will ease this. Those arriving late on Friday can expect to be held in upper basin until Saturday. Very late will risk being held above locks and put undue pressure on boat movement on Saturday. Please aim to be there by 16.00 latest.

SATURDAY 25th. Boats from the Western F&C intending to join flotilla above Lock20 on Saturday afternoon should plan to be at the Eastern end of Dullatur Marsh by 14.00 to assemble with F&CCS boat Gipsy Princess to await/join oncoming flotilla.

SUNDAY 26th. A smaller flotilla will depart Kirkintilloch on Sunday afternoon for Spiers Wharf in Glasgow for a more informal gathering organised by the LCA.

Those wishing to take part in this should contact Robin  and SC Boat movement. Hopefully we will be together to avoid multiple openings of Bascule Bridge at Applecross St.

Lets hope for fine weather and a good turn-out from the general public to help the event go with a swing.

See you there.

Letter from Josie at Scottish Canal re Canal Carnival

The countdown to the Lowland Canal Carnival is on and we’re looking forward to celebrating the re-opening of the Forth & Clyde Canal to sea-to-sea traffic with you.

In order to ensure the weekend’s festivities run smoothly and everyone gets to where they need to be, we’ll be calling you by the end of next week to discuss your transit and weekend plans for the flotilla – and to confirm which of the evening events you’re planning to attend.

If you have recently changed your contact number, please email with up-to-date telephone details.

When we call you, we’ll be taking advance telephone credit card payment for the Friday evening event at The Falkirk Wheel and the Saturday evening celebration at Auchinstarry Marina. Both evenings cost £10 each per person, with The Falkirk Wheel event including a delicious buffet meal, an alcoholic drink, and some fantastic entertainment with live music. The Saturday event at Auchinstarry will be a hog roast feast and a ceilidh.

The weekend’s festivities will wrap up with a photocall at Kirkintilloch College Campus in the Canal Capital of Scotland on Sunday morning, followed by a drop-in lunch at The Kirky Puffer pub in the town centre for anyone who wants to come along. Tables have been reserved from 12:30pm onwards and payment will be required on the day, depending on what you choose to order. See the table below for an outline of the weekend’s festivities.

As we expect the evening events to be particularly busy, places are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. We can’t cater for you if you and your friends haven’t paid in advance so if you’re planning to attend, please do pay with a credit card over the phone when we call.

What we need from you:

  • Details of where and when you’re planning to join and leave the flotilla so we can plan boat movements/staff
  • Confirmation of your attendance at the evening events for Friday and/or Saturday nights
  • Advance payment for you and your party of friends for the Friday night celebrations at The Falkirk Wheel and the Saturday evening ceilidh at Auchinstarry Marina
  • Confirmation of whether you plan to attend the photocall in Kirkintilloch on Sunday lunchtime
  • Confirmation of whether you plan to attend the Lowland Canal Carnival finale at The Kirky Puffer in Kirkintilloch on Sunday afternoon
  • Whether you prefer to leave The Falkirk Wheel early in the morning on Saturday or after lunch
  • Details of the size, composition and type of vessel
  • Confirmation of whether you are happy to raft up at some point during the weekend

If you know of anyone who would like to take part in the Carnival but has not yet registered, please ask them to email Robin Fryer via

We look forward to welcoming you for what promises to be a fantastic weekend!

Date and Time Location Event
Friday 24 May

18:00 – Late

The Falkirk Wheel Celebrations begin with recognition for volunteers for their ongoing contribution to the vibrancy of the canals over the years.

Food, drink and entertainment to be expected!

Saturday 25 May

09:30 kick off

The Falkirk Wheel A flotilla of over 70 yachts, barges, steam boats, rowing boats, kayaks, canoes, and SUPs will leave the basin and will make their way towards Auchinstarry Marina
Saturday 25 May

18:00 – late

Auchinstarry Marina More food, drink, and entertainment with a canalside ceilidh!
Sunday 26 May

10:30 kick off

Auchinstarry Marina The final day of the carnival will see the flotilla depart Auchinstarry Marina and make its way towards Kirkintilloch, North Glasgow, and onto Bowling
Sunday 26 May

12 noon

Kirkintilloch College Campus Photocall with as many boats as possible who make it to the Canal Capital of Scotland
Saturday 25 May

09:30 kick off

The Kirky Puffer, Kirkintilloch Town Centre A table has been booked in the bar area under ‘Scottish Canals’

Update – Canal Carnival Weekend

Just a wee update from the LCA Committee regarding the Canal Carnival preparation (last weekend of May 2019);

…and well done to Robin who is dealing with receiving registrations in a great manner…

Boats are continuing to register for the main flotilla although there is now some doubt about the participation of boats on the Glasgow branch due to proposed Bridge construction at Firhill.

We hope to have clarification of this issue at the next meeting of the organising committee on 22/02/19.

We have also had considerable interest from the Coastal Rowing Clubs, so it is hoped a flotilla of Skiffs will form part of the event.

We also have interest from the local Paddle-boarders and Scottish Canals are discussing participation of canoes/kayaks with the Scottish Canoe Association.

It is hoped everyone will make the effort to decorate their boats to create a Carnival atmosphere with music, buskers etc. With this in mind we are also looking for potential performers and boats willing to host them.

All interested enquiries to LCA info (

Canal Carnival Weekend

24th…27th May 2019 (from Falkirk to Glasgow…)

A celebrating Flotilla is being organised over the Spring Bank Holiday Weekend (24th/27th May 2019) to mark the reopening of the Forth & Clyde Canal since multiple bridges failures happened last year…

The aim of this gathering is to celebrate the reopening of the Forth & Clyde bridges and to illustrate the value of the canal network.

Lowland Canals Association (LCA) is proud of organising the Boating aspect of this large scale event and you are invited to join this fun and very special boats gathering!

Crafts of all shapes and form are invited to take part to this event (Canoes, Rubber dinghies, Barges, Sailing Yachts… anything that floats basically!).

This celebration should be punctuated with several social events along the way. The calendar should work as follow;

Fri 24th May; Gathering of boats at the Falkirk Wheel (+ social event)

Sat 25th May; Flotilla followed by a gathering at Auchinstarry (+ social event)

Sun 26th May; Flotilla followed by a last gathering at Kirkintilloch for Civic Reception at Council offices (+ social event)

Mon 27th May; Some salt water boaters and other participants completing the F&C crossing until Bowling…

As you understand, this great social event is a fantastic opportunity to engage Communities and Politicians in the Canal life…

A response to this invitation would be very much appreciated as we are trying to get up to 60 boats to move flawlessly through the network in Unison and present the best possible memorable show for the Public…

To register your intent please contact Robin Fryer (from the LCA Committee) at the following email address (

While registering, please state your; Boat name, length, beam ,Hull type and home mooring, along with your contact details.

Many thanks and hoping to get you along this special weekend of fun!