Monday, April 26, 2010

A few facts about the Caledonian Canal

[Maryanne]From our handy guide to The Caledonian Canal (given to us by one of the Lock keepers)
  • Opened in 1822, and designed by Thomas Telford, the son of a Scottish shepherd. Telford also designed the Menai suspension bridge (in Wales). Despite little formal education, Telford became so esteemed an engineer he was the founding president of Britain’s (now World-renowned) Institution of Civil engineers.
  • 106’ (32.2m) climb from sea level to the “top” in Loch Oich
  • 29 Locks, 8 Road and 2 rail bridges (15 locks up and 14 down – when travelling from Fort William to Inverness)
  • 60 miles long with 22 miles of man-made channel.
  • The average maintenance guy mows 8km of canal side grass a day!
  • Neptune Staircase lock keepers walk up and down the locks as the boats traverse, a total hike of 15km on a busy summer day.
  • The Great Glen can be transited by Boat (via the canal), Boot (via the Great Glen Way) or bike. The Great Glen Way (120km, 72miles) attracts 10,000 walkers each year. There are a number of cycle trails off the main way to challenge any level of mountain biker. The main road crossing the same route is the A82.
  • The canal is used annually by up to 2000 boats (many rental boats can be found on the canal every day, while Footprint just passed through).
  • The canal uses 41 million gallons (187 million litres) of water a day; enough for every person in Scotland to have half a bath. Each locking is enough for 10,000people to take a bath. All still a small portion of the water draining (and raining) into the basin (most water bypasses the canal, travelling via rivers and weirs).
  • Modern shaped wheelbarrows were “invented” (along with a host of many other useful engineering stuff) during the building of the Caledonian Canal; well there was a lot of soil to shift!
  • The canal is twinned with one in Canada (Rideau Canal) and one in Sweden (Götta Kanal, also designed by Telford).
  • The canal took much longer to build than planned (it was 12 years late), and was much over budget (£900,000 – twice the original estimate). By the time it actually opened the British navy no longer needed a protected route from Napoleon’s fleets (Napoleon having been long since defeated) and modern, larger steam powered boats were too deep to fit in the canal designed for their predecessors. The canal was never the commercial success it was expected to be, but soon became a hit for travellers, tourists, and recreational users. Queen Victoria was one of the first tourists to day-trip on the canal (in 1873), and this much influenced others of the era – a huge boon to the local economy.

There - now don't say I never tell you anything!

1 comment:

Mommy Dearest said...

Always wonderful with the facts, Ma'am. Thank you!