20 June 2009

Spectacular finale for international homecoming flotilla

Mr Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure & Climate Change, met youngsters from the 18th Inverness Muirtown Sea Scouts, Inverness Sea Cadets and Caledonian Canal Ceilidh Trail band at Muirtown Basin on Saturday 20 June, as they took part in the finale celebrations of The Crossing.

The shore-side and waterborne activities at Muirtown Basin marked journey’s end for the international flotilla of 16 historic and modern craft, which travelled the length of the Caledonian Canal this week in celebration of the cultural and historic importance of the canal to the Highlands.

The afternoon event and evening ceilidh at Muirtown Basin followed similar well-attended local shore-side events held during the week at Banavie, near Fort William, and at Fort Augustus.

Mr Stevenson said: "I am delighted to see this fantastic celebration of the Caledonian Canal taking place as part of the official Homecoming calendar. The canal boasts unrivalled scenery from Fort William to Inverness and is home to historic innovative engineering. The Crossing will highlight the important part our canals and waterways play in the local community and the many benefits they bring us including leisure, tourism and environmental opportunities.”

Steve Dunlop, director for British Waterways Scotland said: “British Waterways Scotland fully supports Homecoming Scotland 2009 and we are delighted that our contribution to the year-long celebrations, The Crossing, has received such a wonderful welcome from local communities along the Caledonian Canal and visitors to the area. Our thanks go to the flotilla participants, who have travelled from far and wide in a rich variety of stunning craft, for this unique journey along this beautiful and culturally and economically important canal. I’m sure The Crossing will be truly memorable for them and the communities and visitors who have enjoyed this special five day event.”

Marie Christie, project director for Homecoming Scotland said: “The year of Homecoming is all about reaching out to Scotland’s people around the globe and inviting them back to join the celebration of our country’s many great contributions to the world. We are now at the half-way point in the year and have already enjoyed hundreds of events attracting thousands of people back to Scotland. We are delighted to be working with British Waterways Scotland and to join the local communities, flotilla crews and visitors to the area in celebrating the Caledonian Canal.”

The afternoon event at Muirtown Basin, Inverness, featured a spectacular mix of land and water-based fun. The start and end of proceedings was marked by the landing of an Aviat Huskie amphibious seaplane. Visitors also had the chance to see the impressive Tall Ship, The TS Royalist.

Exhibitors at the Food and Drink Produce Fair, sponsored by Scotland Food & Drink, included Orkney Isles Preserves; Real Food; The Isle of Skye Baking Company; Wester Lawrenceton Farm; Berry Good (Scottish vodka with Scottish fruit); Bouvrage (all natural berry juice); Macleod Organics; Cairngorm Brewery and Balliefurth Farm.

George McIvor, a fellow and former Chairman of the Master Chefs of Great Britain, also inspired visitors with a programme of chef demonstrations.

In addition to street theatre by ‘The Telford Twins’, music by the Caledonian Canal Ceilidh Trail and Gutty Slippers and storytelling by Bob Pegg, waterborne activity included free taster sessions courtesy of the Inverness Sea Scouts, Seagull Trust Cruises and the RYA Scotland ‘Sailing in the City’ initiative for 8-14 year olds. The Sea Scouts and Sea Cadets also took part in a friendly boat race.

British Waterways Scotland’s thrilling Waterwalkerz inflatable spheres were also there for those seeking the unusual thrill of ‘walking on water’.

An evening ceilidh with the Sensational Jimi Shandrix Experience brought the five day celebratory Crossing event to a toe-tapping conclusion.

Stewart Stevenson
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