Tag Archives: scottish waterways trust

Community Fund – Scottish Waterways Trust – October update

During October Scottish Waterways Trust‘s Canal Shed in Polwarth packed a lot in! First a planning meeting for our next block of 10 weeks leading up to Christmas… One idea was #upcycling old items of furniture using scraps of wrapping paper, cuttings, etc. (see photo!) Then Alex and Ashley carried on with the “pasta picture”, Rob and Averill did some monumental leaf collecting in the garden, while the rest of us turned our attention to a huge bag of of apples donated by Christine from Polwarth Parish Church. This gift was timely, as very wet weather looked set to wash out our planned berry-picking trip along the canal for cordial making. Still sticking with the autumn harvest theme, however, we peeled, cored and chopped our way to some delicious spiced apple compote which we ate with pancakes – and potted some up to take home.

Or/And come and join us at Canal Shed any Wednesday morning 10.00-13.00 for a variety of #sociable activities, tea and blethers on the #canalside, in local #greenspaces or indoors. Canal Shed welcomes everyone aged 18 or over….

Community Fund – Scottish Waterways Trust – July update

Life on the canal continues to be busy and vibrant and there is great anticipation in the air due to the forthcoming Edinburgh Festival and Fringe which will bring an abundance of visitors to the city.   The recent completion of the upgraded towpath from the Falkirk Wheel site to Edinburgh , has opened opportunities for communities from outwith the city boundaries to access the city centre via the canal towpath.  These upgrades have increased the usage of the towpath as an active travel network helping: connecting canalside communities; increasing physical fitness of local residents; giving access to the built natural and cultural heritage of the canal to all ages and abilities.

 Volunteers on the Canal

Adobe have been out again helping with the maintenance and upkeep of the Edinburgh canalside.   A total of 13 people participated in theses volunteer days and participated in a range of tasks including; sanding and oiling benches, painting bollards and gates, weeding and planting native wildflowers.

Canal Shed

New members are always welcome, with stories or skills to share and an open mind and heart to meet new people, try their hand at new activities, and be active in their local canalside community.

In July:

  • We welcomed a group of young people who were on an exchange visit from the USA. They greatly enjoyed their tour of Polwarth Church – and of course Dawn and Nathalie’s cakes – and lent a willing hand (or rather 42 hands in all!) to the gardens and other useful tasks.
  • We had a special visit from Sam Adderley of Re-Union Canal Boats, who told us about some exciting volunteering and training opportunities based on the canal.
  • We also had a session with Tom Gold, who as well as being an amazing outdoor educator and bushcraft survival expert, is also a trainee life coach. Who gave us a short talk on what Life Coaching is all about, and will do some taster one-to-one sessions with those who would like to take up this opportunity.
  • Also joining us were some volunteers from the Edinburgh office of CGI IT, who are keen to see what we get up to and lend a hand on the canal.

Canal Shed will be closed on Wed 26 July and 2 August.

We now have two new members of our staff who have joined our team in the last few weeks: Lisa Snedden – Canal cultural heritage officer and Claire Martin – Community Engagement Officer,  Both will be working with the Edinburgh communities to ensure that the built natural and cultural heritage on the Edinburgh union Canal will be maintained.

Community Fund – Scottish Waterways Trust – June update

Schools sessions for 2016-17 concluded with an OPAL water survey conducted by the wonderful children from P4C at Canal View Primary School on 1 June. They trouped along the canal to Hailes Quarry Park, where they collected water samples and netted some interesting invertebrates to check the water quality of the Union Canal. Despite appearances – there is often a lot of litter in the canal here – the water came out top notch yet again, which is great news for the canal, great news for canal wildlife, and great news for the people of Wester Hailes!

All the children in the schools programme this year – and their class teachers – worked extra hard to earn their Discovery-level John Muir Awards. They learned lots about the Union Canal and the wildlife it supports, about boating on the canal and about the history and heritage of this amazing feature of our Edinburgh landscape. They took photos, did drawings, wrote a poem and made posters to raise awareness of the canal and how to keep it beautiful for future generations and safe for people and wildlife. And of course everyone enjoyed getting out into our outdoor canal classroom to feel the fresh air and see the sights… The children at Canal View and Tollcross Primary Schools were presented with their John Muir Award certificates, a water safety certificate, and a nice purple goody bag from the Scottish Waterways Trust as a thank you!

Both the Canal View children (P4c) and the Tollcross children also had the chance to become part of a new canal heritage initiative, the Union Canal Unlocked project, which is a Heritage Lottery-funded partnership between Re-Union Canal Boats, the Scottish Waterways Trust, Scottish Canals and Sustrans. The Canal View children worked with animation students at Edinburgh College of Art to produce three short animated films based on the history and heritage of the Union Canal. Meanwhile the P5s at Tollcross held an assembly where they sang the Union Canal Song by Robin Laing so beautifully that the songwriter himself came to visit the children and sing with them! The recording and excerpts from Robin’s Q&A session with the children will be included – along with the animations – in a smartphone app guide to the Union Canal which is being developed as part of the UCU project. 

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

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Community Fund – Scottish Waterways Trust – December Update

December was a quiet month in terms of activity on the canal, in part because during the quieter winter months, the canal gets a bit of an “MOT”, with maintenance and repairs being carried out along the network. As part of this process, this year there is an opportunity to…

See the Union Canal as you’ve never seen it before – without water.

As part of its wide-ranging programme of winter maintenance, the water level will be 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 will be drained from the canal.

At an Open Day from 1pm-3pm on the 4th of February, visitors can hear from Scottish Canals’ engineering team about how they’re working to safeguard the Union Canal’s rich heritage for future generations to enjoy; take a trip into the history of the waterway with a time-hopping tour of its construction; and have a look at the canal’s 200-year-old infrastructure as it exists below the water.

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Community Fund – Scottish Waterways Trust – November Update

Out and About

On 22 Nov we had our first session of this school year with Tollcross Primary School. The bright and lively P5s went out with Anna for a lovely walk and introductory session to the John Muir Award and their first outing to the Canal. As the local section of towpath was closed for some winter servicing, they instead visited the old North British Rubber Company HQ (soon to house the Edinburgh Printmakers’ fabulous arts venue), and the “Meanwhile” site, with all its amazing community projects – which are about to disappear because the site is due to be redeveloped soon. So the children got to see a bit of Canal community history in the making!


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Community Fund – Scottish Waterways Trust – October Update

Edinburgh Schools

Discussions with three local schools have begun to with the first session taking place at Tollcross PS (intro to John Muir Award and canal session 22 Nov). Most of the sessions at Ratho PS and Canal View PS have not yet been finalised, but are expected to take place in Spring 2017.

Final Survey of 2016

Our October “BeeScene” bumblebee survey saw us welcoming three new volunteers, who remained enthusiastic despite the damp and chilly weather, and the small number of bees we saw. They were keen to learn more about bumblebees and biodiversity on the Union Canal, and to hear about our project, even though this was our last outing for 2016 and we only spotted half a dozen critters to add to our survey record for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT). As far as our citizen science recording goes, however, these are still valid findings, and reflect the seasonal changes in the bumblebee population everywhere.  Roll on next year, and many thanks to all our amazing volunteers for helping us monitor these endearing VIPs (very important pollinators) of the Canal!  For more information on how you can get involved in bumblebee surveying in your area, check out the BBCT website here: here: http://bumblebeeconservation.org/

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Community Fund – Scottish Waterways Trust – September Update

Doors Open Days

Scottish Waterways Trust was pleased to offer some canalside activities as part of Edinburgh’s annual Doors Open Days events on 24th and 25th September, with 23 people joining our Cultural Heritage Officer Gemma on a tour of the Union Canal around the Fountainbridge area of the city

Changing Seasons

Our series of wildflower and bumblebee surveys is now drawing to a close, and the bumblebees are proving trickier to spot as they prepare for winter. Highly sensitive to changes in the atmospheric temperature, bumblebees need warmth to stay active, and so we usually see a decline in numbers at this time of year. There are still a good few of the wee critters around, but they’ll keep a low profile, preferring to stay warm and dry. If you want to help the bumblebees during the autumn, don’t mow your lawn or cut back your vegetation for winter just yet! Bumblebee queens depend on late-flowering species to sustain them during their winter hibernation. And the common buff-tailed bumblebee actually stays active during autumn and winter, and also needs food sources such as ivy, which flowers during September to November, and the ivy berries from December to February help sustain overwintering birds too.

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Community Fund – Scottish Waterways Trust – August Update

Citizen Science in the City:

As our bumblebee and wildflower survey programme marches on towards the end of the season, we had a busy August with two wildflower survey days plus one day for the bees. On 6th August, Anna followed the survey session with a special workshop on an ancient photographic technique – producing pretty cyanotype prints to preserve the stunning canal flora in all its glory.

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Community Fund – Scottish Waterways Trust – July Update

Picture1Hidden treasures in the city: Our summer bumblebee and wildflower survey programme is continuing apace. Anna was out with a merry band of ten volunteers on 16th July, undertaking a canal wildflower survey for which the data feeds into the Botanical Society of Scotland‘s Urban Flora of Scotland Project. And it was a very knowledgeable band of volunteers – sharing their own skills and experience including archeobotany (the study of plant remains from archaeological sites), horticultural plant knowledge, outdoor learning and medicinal herbology, while Sunday 17th saw the second bumblebee survey taking place.

The dates for the next surveys are Sat 6th August (Wildflowers), and Sunday 21st August (Bumblebees). All very welcome to attend; please contact info@scottishwaterwaystrust.org.uk to let us know you are coming along.

Spring Cleaning: A wee bit late for a spring clean maybe, but we have had some keen volunteers from Adobe’s offices in Edinburgh helping us to keep the canal and its environs spick and span. Back in June they spent a morning helping our Volunteer Development Officer John to tidy up the community garden on the edge of the canal at Calders in Sighthill, as it had been getting very overgrown. And on 7th July they joined our Cultural Heritage Officer Gemma, getting handy with the paintbrushes to conserve the historic canal bridges while learning about the importance of caring for these structures in the long term.