Chris Bowness Landscape | The Falkirk Canal Tunnel

The Falkirk Canal Tunnel

July 07, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Falkirk Canal TunnelFalkirk Canal TunnelBuilt in the 1820's, this tunnel is 630m long and the Union Canal runs through it from Edinburgh to Falkirk Completed in 1822, the 630 metre (690 yards) Falkirk Canal Tunnel was a marvel of its time. The tunnel forms part of the Union Canal that was built to link Edinburgh and Glasgow via the Forth and Clyde Canal at Falkirk. The tunnel was not originally intended but it is a consequence of the local landowners, the Forbes family, who lived in the stately Callander House objecting to the canal spoiling their view.

This tunnel is then a consequence of Nimbyism. These particular Nimby (Not In My Back Yard) complainants were very well connected and forced the canal builders into building this expensive tunnel before that now popular acronym was even conceived.

Before the canal millennium projects, where many millions of pounds were spent in restoring the canals of Central Scotland, this tunnel had no lighting or railings. The railings are for safety as there is no need nowadays for horses to pull the barge through the tunnel. Lights have been installed too, but it is still a very dark tunnel to walk through, with a lot of people using their phones for additional illumination as they hurry through it.

I have spent time in this tunnel taking photos and after a half hour of long exposures using a tripod I realised that the tunnel has bats, as only once my eyes adjusted to the low light did I notice them skimming silently past me.

Falkirk Canal TunnelFalkirk Canal TunnelThis is the Falkirk end of the Falkirk Canal tunnel in scotland

Falkirk Canal TunnelFalkirk Canal Tunnel Falkirk Canal TunnelFalkirk Canal Tunnel The thing that strikes me about inside the tunnel is the colour of the living rock that is visible at the entrance. These colours are amazing where there are greens, blues, turquoises and yellows visible where I expect the rock to be brown or black. There is also a lot of water coming into the tunnel through holes and cracks, where you have drips hitting your head and a pretty intense (and noisy) spout of water near the entrance. Halfway through the 200 odd years of water ingress has coated the walls with minerals and stalactites are forming. This coating on the walls is porcelain/yellow and looks wet and slimy but when you touch it is as hard as rock. 

The Dripping WallsThe Dripping WallsFalkirk Canal Tunnel

The oozing WallsThe oozing WallsMineral formations inside the Falkirk Canal Tunnel I spent so much time on my two (photography) visits, I even managed to catch a boat coming out of the concealed entrance. The noise of the engine as it heads through the tunnel is amplified and is thunderous and disorienting. It drove Digger crazy and I had to comfort him and get him out of the tunnel. If I ever go back to take more pictures, I will leave him at home, as I've realised that dogs and tunnels are not compatible.

Falkirk Canal TunnelFalkirk Canal TunnelA boat emerging from the Falkirk Canal Tunnel



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