, the Forth and Clyde canal
had been built, linking: Glasgow
(on the Firth of Clyde
) and Glasgow and Grangemouth
on the Firth of Forth
Between Falkirk and Grangemouth, the canal passed through a ladder of 11 locks
taking it down from 110ft above sea level down to the Firth of Forth.
Between 1817 and 1822, the Union Canal was built to link the centre of
with the Forth and Clyde canal at Falkirk.
The Union Canal starts life in Edinburgh in the Fountainbridge area. If you are
walking up from the city centre along Lothian Road, just after you pass
The Meadows on the left you can take a right hand turn down the hill and you will
see, if you are on the right street, the Leamington Lift Bridge. This provides
a good access point onto the canal. You can walk for a few miles heading out of
the city. Depending on the wind direction you might smell the sea, or else the
brewery. The canal is usually quiet at night. Sometimes I would walk along it at
two or three in the morning when the thoughts in my head were becoming too much
to bear. The canal lies hidden, it runs behind the houses of the city.
You pass all of those lives unnoticed. The water is still. It is quiet. In the
darkness it is calming.
After I started seeing a girl while I was still living in the city, we got into
the habit of going for walks at night along the canal. I think it was the
peacefulness we treasured. Her hand fit perfectly in the pocket of my
grandfathers coat. Even in the winter I was able to keep her hand warm.
Two things happened to us on those walks that I would like to tell you about. I
don't remember how long we had been seeing each other at this point, perhaps it
was only a few months, we could read each others minds.
There were some swans living on the canal. Approaching the end of one of the
tunnels. myself and the girl had paused to kiss a little. The swans had
followed us. I had by back to the wall, she was leaning into me and I could see
over her shoulder. The two swans were side by side in the water, not 3 meters from us,
looking at us kissing. I caught their eyes. Staying where they were in the water
they simply turned their heads to look away. They were bashful.
The swans became a fixture for us. We would go to see them, see if we could feed
them. One day we went back. There was a man a woman and a dog on the bank. There
was an argument. It is no longer clear to me exactly what happened. The dog was
barking, almost out of control. It was trying to get away from its owners so
that it could get into the water to attack one of the swans. The man and woman
were arguing. I think he had been hitting her, I think she was trying to hold
onto the dog. I think I asked if I could help, I am not sure even now. He
threatened me, but not in a specific way. The dog was frantic, Myself and the
girl walked away quickly, she was shaken, so was I.
We never went back to the canal.