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Scots urged to share #CanalMagic at Red Bull Neptune Steps ahead of 2016 World Canals Conference

Press release   •   Feb 29, 2016 16:07 GMT

#CanalMagic – a public programme which celebrates the innovation, heritage and economic value of Scotland’s canals - will get underway at the world’s only uphill swimming race in Glasgow.

Red Bull Neptune Steps, a high-octane swimming race which takes to the water of the Forth & Clyde Canal in Maryhill on Saturday 9th April, will be the first of six Scotland-wide events inviting residents and visitors to share their experiences of Scotland’s inland waterways via social media.

Under the banner #CanalMagic, which is being organised by Scottish Canals and supported by the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, cyclists, runners, walkers, boaters, canalside communities and local businesses are being encouraged to record what the nation’s 137-miles of canal network mean to them.

The public will be able to take part in a master-planning workshop for Ardrishaig in Argyll and Bute in April, a design workshop in Bowling in the Spring, a drop in community consultation in Falkirk in May, the Edinburgh Canal Festival in June and the Go Wild community festival in Muirtown Basin, Inverness, in September which will feature designing, building and racing rafts on the canal.

#CanalMagic invites canal users, from commuters who cycle along the towpath, ramblers spotting wildlife and boaters or paddlers enjoying the tranquillity of journeying along the water, to submit their ‘one of a kind’ photos and videos via Scottish Canals social media channels.

The best images and videos will be collated into a short film which will be screened in front of a 300-strong audience of international waterways experts, global academics and business leaders at the World Canals Conference in Inverness this September.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:

“With Scotland’s 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, we have the opportunity to put Scotland on the map in a new and exciting way, positioning the country as a mix of traditional and cutting-edge at the same time.”

“Scotland’s canal network acts a great resource for education, recreation, regeneration and tourism. So whether you’re an adventurous thrill-seeker or you’re more at home taking the dog for a walk along Scotland’s canal network – the #CanalMagic programme is an innovative way of celebrating Scotland’s past, present and future, and has a real community spirit at its heart.”

Spectators at Red Bull Neptune Steps, the toughest open water race in the United Kingdom, will be encouraged to capture and share moments from the event using #CanalMagic as 200 elite endurance athletes swim 420 metres of cold water, climb 18 metres over eight canal lock gates and push themselves to their limits in a test of speed, strength, and resolve.

Steve Dunlop, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals, said: 

“Scotland’s canals attract 22 million visits a year from cyclists, walkers, runners, boaters, paddlers and anglers around the world and we want to capture what makes these 250-year old heritage assets so special to them today.

“#CanalMagic will help showcase the role that canals play in communities up and down the country and the fantastic contribution they make to Scotland’s economy. This, in turn, will help us to continue using them in new and exciting ways to create jobs, stimulate business growth, encourage tourism and help drive regeneration across urban and rural areas.”

He added: “Where better to launch #CanalMagic than at the world’s only uphill swimming race? It would have been unimaginable a few years ago that Maryhill would welcome 3,000 spectators to cheer on Europe’s top athletes competing in a gruelling adventure race but by the end of the World Canals Conference in September, we hope to see many more examples of how canals are being used innovatively to stimulate economic growth and deliver fantastic public value.”

Con Doherty, world leading junior triathlete competing in the event, said: 

"It’s such a unique racing format, and will be a real test. There’s nothing else that exists like it, and it’s going to push competitors to their absolute limits’. 

Sign ups for entry to this year’s race will open on 1st March at 10am, opening up the opportunity for 200 participants to swim, climb, and conquer the adventure race like no other. 

For more information on watching the event or taking part please visit

Red Bull Neptune Steps will take place on Saturday 9th April at Maryhill Locks in Glasgow.

- ENDS -

For further information, please contact:

Nicola Sturgeon, Communications Mananger at Scottish Canals on 07767383557 or email

Chris McDonald, Communications Executive at Scottish Canals on 07917 217 608 or email

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    Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design begins on 1 January 2016 and ends on 31 December 2016 and will build on the momentum generated by the current 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
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Scottish Canals

  • Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of five Scottish canals as well as the surrounding estate and The Falkirk Wheel. See or follow @ScottishCanals for more information
  • The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands, together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness
  • Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles
  • The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22 million visits each year