Multi-million pound project begins to upgrade Crinan Canal

The scene on November 19 between locks three and four through Ardrishaig

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The Crinan Canal, known as ‘Britain’s most beautiful shortcut’ is undergoing a major refurbishment, and the first step – draining of the waterway – was well underway last week.

This is the beginning of the first phase of major improvement works along the canal this winter, with £3.7 million being invested by Scottish Canals to replace lock gates in the eastern section, requiring a full canal closure and drain down of the whole eastern section from lock eight at Cairnbaan to sea lock one in Ardrishaig. Works will be undertaken by contractor AmcoGiffen between November 2020 and March 2021.

The canal has been identified as priority for gate replacement due to ‘condition, age and criticality’. Initial surveys in 2019 led to design work focused on new steel gates for locks one to four.

Work will also begin this winter on designs for locks along the western section of the canal to Crinan, development of upgrades to Cairnbaan Bridge and modifications to both Crinan Ferry Bridge and Oakfield Bridge.

Scottish Canals estimates that the total investment needed to upgrade the infrastructure on the Crinan Canal, including the replacement of all canal gates, is approximately £8-12 million. The entire project is expected to take three years to complete.

Dredging will also be undertaken at Ardrishaig Harbour and other locations along the canal between January and March 2021, boosted by £1 million of additional Scottish Government funding to Scottish Canals to undertake dredging in both the Crinan and Caledonian canals.