Crinan Canal prepares for phased re-opening

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The Crinan Canal, dubbed ‘Scotland’s most beautiful shortcut’ is preparing to re-open to navigation from July 17.

Scottish Canals this week updated interested parties on plans for its waterways network as coronavirus lockdown continues to ease.

In a statement, Scottish Canals said: ‘Since we last wrote to you, the First Minister announced phase two of the easing of lockdown restrictions on Thursday June 18, and so we wanted to update you on Scottish Canals’ ongoing response to COVID-19 in light of this.

‘Phase two will see an increase in the volume of outdoor work being carried out by our operational team in areas such as vegetation management, weed-cutting, litter-picking and channel clearance to prepare the canals for navigation.

‘Our offices, visitor centres, indoor cafes, holiday accommodation, and locks and bridges remain closed until phase three, with the majority of our staff continuing to work from home.

‘During phase one we welcomed back leisure boaters living within five miles of their mooring and residential boaters to use the canals for local boating. However, there are still numerous restrictions in place, including no operation of locks and bridges, limited services and limited staff available on the ground. This remains the position.

‘We are, however, pleased to let you know that Scottish Canals is planning to re-open canals to navigation in line with the announcement that Scotland’s tourism sector is preparing to reopen during phase three of the Scottish Government route map on July 15. Subject to the confirmation of phase three from that date, the canals will open to navigation as follows:

  • Crinan Canal – July 17 – pre booking required
  • Caledonian and lowland canals  – July 22

While boats will be able to transit the canals, the operating hours and days still have to be confirmed’

When the canals were closed to navigation at the beginning of lockdown, mooring customers received three months’ navigation licence free of charge to June 2020.

Scottish Canals added: ‘We have decided to extend the concession to cover July, with mooring customers getting a credit note issued to their account next month in addition to April, May and June.’

A deferment of boat safety certificates has also been further extended until September.

With health and safety in mind, Scottish Canals will adopt strict social distancing, segregation and hygiene measures to minimise the risk of transmitting Covid-19 for the foreseeable future, including cough screens at transaction points, queue management and clear signage to remind people of the importance of physical distancing and good hand and cough hygiene.