The Millennium Link will restore the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals, which pass through the narrowest part of central Scotland and link sea to sea and city to city. From its westernmost end at Bowling on the Firth of Clyde, the Forth & Clyde Canal links the Forth estuary at Grangemouth and thus recreates a navigable waterway from the Irish Sea and North Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea. The Forth & Clyde Canal, which was completed in 1790, also has a branch into the centre of Glasgow.
The Union Canal, completed in 1822, runs west from Edinburgh to join the Forth & Clyde Canal at Falkirk. And it is here at Falkirk that the most exciting feature of both the engineering project and the restored waterways will be situated – theFalkirk Wheel.
The Falkirk Wheel is a 25m-diameter boat lift which will join the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals near the Roman Antonine Wall, at Falkirk. As well as being critical to the restoration of the two canals, the Wheel will be a great visitor attraction in its own right. An engineering masterpiece, using state-of-the-art modern mechanical, electronic and hydraulic engineering, it will be a spectacular sight as it transports boats and people 25m from the height of the Union Canal down to the Forth & Clyde Canal and vice versa.
Completing The Millennium Link, bringing 110 km (69 miles) of canal and towpath back to life by autumn 2001 will involve:
The Forth & Clyde Canal
The canal was 35 miles long, with an additional 3.5 miles on the branch into Port Dundas in Glasgow. 60 feet wide and 9 feet deep, it rose to 156 feet above sea level, through 20 locks on the eastern side and 19 on the western.
The Union Canal
The Union Canal was 32 miles long and 5 ft deep. A contour canal, it followed the natural contours of the land and although it had no locks, it boasts the only canal tunnel in Scotland (690 yards long) and the largest and tallest aqueduct. The Union Canal lies 73.14 m (239 ft approx.) above sea level. It connected to the Forth & Clyde Canal at Falkirk by a flight of 11 locks, which dropped the canal 33.5m over a distance of 1.5km.
More details of the canal history from the Millennium Link site has been included on this resource:
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