Visit Edinburgh on a canal boat holiday

Visit Edinburgh on a canal boat holiday

From Drifters canal boat hire base at Falkirk, you can cruise to Edinburgh and back on four-night or week-long canal boat holiday.

The journey takes you along the Union Canal, from the Falkirk Wheel to Edinburgh Quay, travelling 32 miles in around 11 hours.

The route passes through the Falkirk Wheel, through two locks, two tunnels and five major aqueducts. And takes you through the lovely lowland villages of Linlithgow, Broxburn and Ratho.

Canal history

The Union Canal opened in 1842 and was built to bring coal and other minerals to Edinburgh. It is linked to the Forth & Clyde Canal at Falkirk by the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first rotating boat lift.

Both canals were closed in the 1960’s until their Lottery-funded restoration was completed in 2001.  The Falkirk Wheel opened a year later.

Replacing a flight of 11 locks, the lift is like a giant ferris-wheel, moving boats between the two canals in two massive gondolas, raising or lowering them 35 metres.

Moor up close to the City Centre at Edinburgh Quay

Visitor moorings are available at Edinburgh Quay, just a five-minute walk from Princes Street in Edinburgh City Centre.

From there, it’s easy to reach the City’s many attractions, including Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyrood, Mary King Close and the Royal Mile.

Journey highlights include:

  • Outstanding views of the surrounding countryside from the top of the Falkirk Wheel
  • Rough Castle Tunnel with its psychedelic lighting
  • The Falkirk Tunnel with dripping water, stalactites and rock hewn sections
  • The Avon Aqueduct, the longest and tallest in Scotland, carrying the Union Canal 26 metres above the Avon valley
  • Seeing many types of birds, including herons, swans, ducks, moorhens and gulls
  • The historic town of Linlithgow, with Linlithgow Palace, where Mary Queen of Scots was born and St Michael’s Church with its unique Crown of Thorns spire
  • The Four Marys pub in Linlithgow, named after the four ladies in waiting to Mary Queen of Scots
  • The canalside Bridge Inn at Ratho, serving food made with fresh Scottish produce from local suppliers

For more information about canal boat holidays on the Scottish Lowland Canals, go to Canals of Scotland. Interactive map of the Scottish Lowland Canals (