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The Geek Atlas by John Graham-Cumming

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The Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk, Scotland

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Raising and Lowering Canal Boats Using Just 1.5 Kilowatts

The Union Canal starts in Edinburgh and heads roughly westward, following the contours of the land until it reaches Falkirk in central Scotland. The Forth and Clyde Canal starts outside Glasgow at the Firth of Clyde (which links to the Atlantic Ocean) and heads roughly eastward, ending at the Firth of Forth (which links to the North Sea). But at Falkirk the two canals meet, and are linked by a stunning and unique boat lift.

The boat lift is needed because there’s a 35-meter drop from the Union Canal to the Forth and Clyde Canal. The link was originally navigated by traversing 11 locks over 1.5 kilometers. But in 1933 the locks were dismantled, disconnecting Edinburgh from its historic water link to Glasgow.

The link was reestablished in 2002 with the spectacular Falkirk Wheel. The locks have been replaced by a rotating boat lift that uses a tiny amount of power to lift 300 tonnes of boats and water from the Forth and Clyde Canal up to the Union Canal, while lowering another 300 tonnes of boats and water in the opposite direction.

Boats arriving from the ...

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