Canal Festival

Messing About in Boats

"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing–absolutely nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." said Ratty to Mole in Wind in the Willows

Kenneth Grahame

 And indeed after our Festival of Europe event on the 14th May I would have to say I agree with this!

The day dawned sunny and clear for our Festival of Europe/European Movement Scotland/Glasgow Loves EU group canal festival and boat trip. The aim of the day was to celebrate the wonderful engineering achievement that is the Forth and Clyde Canal and to remember that one of the funders of its regeneration has been the EU and European Regional Development Funding. The regeneration was made possible through strong partnership approaches with for example Glasgow City Council. 

On the day we offered a canal boat trip option and also wanted to provide a community event with musical entertainment, face painting and refreshments onshore once the boat had docked.

Canal History

The Forth and Clyde canal stretches across Scotland from Bowling on the River Clyde to Grangemouth on the River Forth. It was originally opened in 1790 and, amongst other uses, it provided a route for Glasgow to trade in goods across the North Sea to the Baltic countries etc.  The canal closed for West/East navigation in 1963 and parts of it lay abandoned before being reopened in 2001 in The Millenium Link project. The canal has branches into the centre of Glasgow and also links into the Union canal at the new Falkirk Wheel. The spectacular Kelpies horse head sculptures by Andy Scott are located at the eastern entrance to the Forth and Clyde canal. The canal and its associated tow paths as well as greenspace and nature reserves are well used by cyclists, walkers, birdwatchers and fishermen and have now been shown to have improved health and wellbeing in the area. They were in particular a lifeline during the covid lockdowns providing a wonderful breathing space in the city.

Canal Festival Day

The canal boat we travelled on was called Voyager and it is run by the Forth and Clyde Canal Society who provided a wonderful experience for us all. What surprised me was how calming it was. The boat took us from where it is docked at The Stables pub, (formerly a stables for the canal horses) near Kirkintilloch right to the heart of Glasgow and our destination at Maryhill Locks, where there is a series of locks. From here it is also possible to walk onto the River Kelvin walkway – another green artery into the West End of Glasgow.


During the voyage we saw many cyclists and walkers enjoying the tow paths. A stretch of the canal passed alongside the Antonine Wall, the most northerly frontier of the Roman Empire and a World Heritage Site. We passed under the new Stockingfield junction bridges, the latest development to make the canal paths even more accessible for all by linking up various routes. 


The boat docked for the period of our small community festival and was much enjoyed by those visiting. We were entertained on the day firstly by a member of our group, Craig Potter on guitar.

folk musiciansAnd then by members of Glasgow Fiddle Workshop who provided some toe-tapping traditional music. They offer lessons now not only in fiddle but in a dozen traditional instruments both via zoom and in person.

Our food on the day was provided by the wonderful Joy of Cakes shop on Maryhill Road. And face painting by Sarah just added to the festival atmosphere. We welcomed members of the public and also some of our local political representatives who we were very happy to see.


A good day was had by all!

canal view

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