Community Fund – Scottish Waterways Trust – January Update

The Canal as it has never been seen before

After the hustle and bustle of the festive season January has been fairly quiet on the Canal.   Scottish Canals carried out their planned wide-ranging programme of winter maintenance, with the water level being reduced along five kilometres of the 200-year-old waterway at Linlithgow between the 9th of January and 16th February. In total, around 30,000 cubic metres of water has been drained from the canal.  At an open day on the 17th January from 1pm-3pm visitors heard from Scottish Canals’ engineering team about how they’re working to safeguard the Union Canal’s rich heritage for future generations to enjoy; took a trip into the history of the waterway with a time-hopping tour of its construction; and had a look at the canal’s 200-year-old infrastructure as it exists below the water

Edinburgh Activities

The John Muir Award schools proposal been approved – and the JM Award management are delighted with the work we’re doing with the children on our canal wild space in Edinburgh. Tollcross Primary children are currently working with their class teacher on some preparatory activities to link current class projects (Amazon rainforest; water cycle) to the Scottish context (native trees and waterways/ canal wildlife) and to the work we’ll be doing on the canal in March.

The report on the 2016 wildflower surveys and bumblebee surveys, is currently being developed with some interesting quotes from participants and leaders alike, and a brief spotlight on some of the amazing skills our volunteer surveyors bring to the groups: As an example of these skills we have Sam, a seasoned contributor to the wildflower surveys, but who is also a skilled basket maker and willow weaver, and has helped to run wildflower cyanotype printmaking workshops – these were organised in partnership with the Fountainbridge Canalside Initiative, taking our survey findings into the wider community around the canal, and recording them creatively in addition to our scientific data collecting. We also have a three wonderful photographers (two of them professionals) who have donated many of their beautiful images of the canal and plants – and of our sessions. Soutra researcher Dr Brian Moffat is another regular, bringing a wealth of knowledge of geo-botany and archaeobotany – with fascinating tales of how plants move around the country, distributed by natural and anthropogenic means, and how they have been used in all sorts of interesting ways… Volunteer development has never been so rich and exciting! Other participants have been sending in recipes and poems, and recommendations for books and websites to share – so these will be collated and included in the final report as well for all to enjoy – and to help everyone stay geared up and tuned into the canal plants and bumblebees till our next round of funding for 2017.

Polwarth Canal Shed

The inaugural meeting of Polwarth Canal Shed Pilot was held on Wednesday 1st February in the Drennan Hall at Polwarth Church.  Thirteen people attended the meeting to set the scene for the SWT Canal Shed pilot.   The group are keen to be involved in the general upkeep and maintenance of the towpath and its surrounding environs and to learn more about the history of the union Canal and develop a project that will leave a legacy for future generations.   The aim of the project is not only to improve the environmental heritage of the canal but to improve general health and well-being of those attending the Canal Shed  and to engage with the local community and target groups that help people who have had life journeys that have led to them feeling isolated alone.