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New Scottish Helix to 'open up Scottish inland waterways'

by Claire Caffrey/Sail-World Cruising on 30 Sep 2013
The Helix - will open up the inland waterways for sailors SW
One of the most ambitious projects in Scotland ever is the Helix project, which will significantly improve the yachting experience for Scottish and visiting yachts, in that it will increase the hours of transit into the Forth & Clyde Canal by threefold, and you won't have to de-mast in order to enter the Lowland Canals.

Good news too that the Royal Yachting Association Scotland has given The Helix its stamp of approval, with its CEO stating that the 'unique and exciting' project will 'fundamentally improve the boating experience on Scotland’s canals.'

James Stuart, Chief Executive of the RYAS, paid a visit to the site of the £43 million project, which is transforming 350 hectares of previously-unused land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into a world-class visitor attraction and marine hub, earlier this month.

One of the most ambitious projects under construction in Scotland today, The Helix, a partnership between Scottish Canals and Falkirk Council, is due to open in April 2014. Featuring a new one-kilometre canal extension and sea lock linking the Forth Estuary and River Carron into the Forth & Clyde Canal, the project will allow larger and more varied boats to enter the Lowlands waterways for the first time.

Also featuring a new canal hub, watersports and boating lagoon, and state-of the-art visitor centre, The Helix is expected to attract more than 350,000 visitors a year and inject more than £1.5 million into the economy.

James toured the site with Scottish Canals’ Head of Enterprise Richard Millar, visiting the new sea lock and canal, and marvelling at the Kelpies – two colossal equine sculptures inspired by the heavy horses that were integral to the history of the waterways.

Standing a third taller than Gateshead’s Angel of the North, the 30-metre-tall, shimmering steel sentries will flank the new canal section and will be the largest equine sculptures in the world on their completion.

James said: 'It was fantastic to be able to see The Helix first-hand and I personally can’t wait to come back in April to see the completed project.

'The Helix fundamentally addresses the access issues from the Forth estuary onto the Forth & Clyde Canal, but it does so in a way that opens up the area for a huge number of opportunities. The excitement from this project is that it’s not just about the mundane solution to an old problem; it’s taking the opportunity to go further and create something unique.

'The lessons and knowledge gained from creating and running the Falkirk Wheel are clearly being drawn into this project, and the quality of the experience journeying up from the sea lock to the Kelpies and beyond is going to be incredible.

'From a boaters’ perspective, the opportunity to get off the Forth before you have to de-mast will make a huge difference, as will the wider transit windows offered by the new sea lock.

'The Helix lagoon also offers a perfect venue to introduce more people to sailing and I’m confident it will entice a lot more people to get out on the water. I have no doubt that The Helix will fundamentally change the boating experience on Scotland’s canals for the better.'

The Helix is set to be one of Scotland’s most exciting and innovative visitor attractions and will open up the inland waterways to marine traffic from across Europe.
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