To help more people living near the Caledonian Canal unlock the amazing secrets and mysteries of this spectacular waterway, The Waterways Trust Scotland has taken on a dedicated Canal Officer.
Over the next two years, Stephen Wiseman will be running a series of projects and activities to help people get out and discover the canal’s wonderful wildlife and heritage.
Stephen explains:“At 60miles long and with a reputation that spreads far from Scotland’s shores, the Caledonian Canal is relatively unknown locally. While visitors come from far and wide to cruise along the waterway, there are few opportunities for people living in its vicinity to experience the canal.”
Stephen wants to get local people to explore, use and, more importantly, care for the waterway, which stretches from Inverness to Fort William, he continues: “We’ve got lots of exciting hands-on activities in mind to help raise awareness of the canal, practical conservation projects, training local people to become ‘Canal Custodians’, helping people to research and record the history of the canal to name just a few. The canal created the fortunes of the region and whilst we now have different ways of getting around, it can still play an important role in the way we live today.”
Rebecca O’Hara from Scottish Natural Heritage, said: “The canal has a fantastic history and is surrounded by wonderful wildlife. Providing better information about the canal in a way that engages, entertains and raises awareness will improve the experience for both local people and visitors alike. It really does offer something for everyone – a place to bring learning to life, somewhere to get fit or an opportunity to relax and enjoy nature on your doorstep.”
Colin McLean, Head of HLF Scotland, said: “The Caledonian Canal is one of the great unsung heritage assets of Scotland. It rates among the industrial icons, but it also has important natural heritage, local stories and, originally viewed as a regeneration project of its time after the Highland Clearances, it still has plenty to tell us for today. This project provides opportunities for local people to get involved in exploring all or any aspects of that heritage, from monitoring bats to hands-on conservation or archival research.”
Councillor Carolyn Wilson, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Resources Committee, said: “We are happy to support this new post, which promises to maximise the benefits of the canal network and promote our wonderful environment.”
Martin Culbertson from Highland Council, said: “Both the Lochaber and Rural Inverness LEADER groups were very supportive of this project and it is exciting to see that it is really beginning to take off and have an impact locally.”
The Trust secured funding from Scottish Natural Heritage, British Waterways Scotland, the European Community Highland LEADER 2007-2013 Programme, Highland Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund and works in partnership with the Great Glenway Ranger Service and Forestry Commission Scotland for this post.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about how you can get involved with the Caledonian Canal.